MOU Behind the Scenes: The Imperfect Iron Fold and How to Do a Sequel
This might be a recurring thing, who knows.
On the SFC, there are a lot of sequels. I’ve written a ton, and have been ever since people seemed to like Month of the Skyfolders almost eleven years ago. I’m old, folks.
If you have a full and complete story, how do you improve on the ending and prove that a sequel is worth existing? The first story has to be a complete story, obviously. Your main character goes on their character arc and everything is wrapped up in a tidy little bow. And yet, a sequel is supposed to build on that foundation and prove that it deserves to exist.
Not all of my sequels have been good. Going back to the Skyfolders example (And I mean the original Skyfolders, not the one edited for Bounty Hunters) we have Skyfolders 2, where Jacob comes back for no reason. Then Skyfolders 3 where Noah gets a clone for some reason. Noah’s always been big on doubles. These stories don’t have much of a reason to exist beyond existing, and as such, they’re bad sequels. Still had a ton of fun writing them though. Gosh, they were so dumb, but they were so fun.
Fast forward about five years, and it’s now time to write the sequel to The Invincible Iron Fold. The first was a pretty big deal, since it started the MOU and introduced the very important character of Clark Anthony Largent. He went on his character arc of becoming a ‘hero’, though still being a bit rough around the edges. (See the ending where he leaves Nard out to dry.) And then, he joins the OrigAvengers, saves the grades, and is now the Iron Fold.
Thinking of a sequel was very difficult. I had the inkling to adapt something similar to Demon in a Bottle, but, you know, without the alcoholism, and featuring an origami Madame Masque as the villain. Fun fact: Cassidy Lashay was originally going to be this Madame Masque until she was cut out and became Scarlet Witch later. This just wasn’t working, though. What helped cause a breakthrough was asking a question: where would Clark’s head be at this time? If he’s already susceptible to pride and prejudice, where would that lead him if he’s one of the heroes of the school?
From there, the story became fully formed: Clark’s pride is the villain of the story as he wrestles with all of this attention and figures out how a hero is supposed to act. Because until this story, Clark isn’t that great of a person. He’s a good guy, sure, but he doesn’t know how to be one. The purpose of the Imperfect Iron Fold was to bring Clark up the level of being a true hero.
From there, everything fell into place; Cal, trying to be Clark’s sidekick; Robby, worried about his best friend; a repentant Nard helping bring him back to ground zero, and the one I’m most proud of, Emily masterminding a scheme to help Clark see the error of his ways. Emily was a fairly standard love interest in the first story, and this new role gave her some much-needed flavor to show just why she was Clark’s better half!
Ultimately, The Imperfect Iron Fold became one of my favorite stories that I’ve written here on the SFC and helped dictate the arcs of Clark, Emily, and Cal all throughout the rest of the MOU.
So, are sequels hard? Absolutely. But here’s my advice: when writing a sequel, ask yourself the question: where is my character at right now? If you’re able to map out a character’s thoughts and how the events of the last story may have changed their perspective, roll with it. If a character gained confidence last time, could they also be overconfident? If a character gained a family last time, how do they interact with that family? If they got a good sandwich, what did they think of the sandwich?
Sometimes, a sequel really isn’t necessary. But if you can ask interesting questions and show just why your characters are worth the focus, you could have something that’s even better than the original!