Power of the Series: The Sidequel
This month, I'm continuing to explore different aspects of book series.
When it comes to book or movie series, most people are familiar with the sequel and the almost always inferior prequel, but fewer people realize there's another option: the sidequel!
The sidequel (sometimes called a spinoff or parallel novel) is unique in that it usually takes place during the same timeframe as a previous installment, but it tells the story from a different perspective. It's almost entirely a book series thing as I'm not sure how many people would pay to watch the same movie again from a different angle.
My favorite sidequel is Ender's Shadow, a spinoff of Ender's Game that tells the first novel's events from Bean's perspective (one of my favorite characters in the series). I'm also a big fan of Grendel, a version of Beowulf that turns the monster into a sympathetic character. Finn, a retelling of Huckleberry Finn from Huck's abusive father's POV, was big for 15 minutes. Then there's the most ill-conceived sidequel, the retelling of Gone with the Wind from the slaves' POV called Wind Done Gone ... yup ... that was the title.
A sidequel is an interesting option for a book series since literature tends to be more character-focused. The sidequel opens up a plethora of possibilities that a straight-up sequel can't. The story can be told from the perspective of a supporting character or even a villain. It allows the reader to get a deeper understanding of an interesting character while putting a creative spin on the story we're already familiar with.
In my attempt to create supplemental material between main releases in my After the End post-apocalyptic series, I decided to write a sidequel that told the events of the first novel from the perspective of Mecca's enemy, Tranquility Hills. It forced me as a writer to look at things from their point of view. I created a cast of new characters to supplement the ones who already existed. Now I had to populate the building with people with their own motivations and backstories and conflicts. It changed my perspective on the book's main conflict and forced me to make changes in my main series books.
As they say, there are two sides to every story. Sometimes you have to write both sides to finally understand what that means.
If you want to see a sidequel in action, check out Enemy on the Hill, a sidequel to the first book in my After the End series. You can buy it here!