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Prequels and Sequels – Weigh In

Image by Moshe Harosh from Pixabay

Last night I was thinking about the original three Star Wars movies. They were classics written in order (I am assuming) and released in the order in which they were to seen. I loved the movies and I did not find myself with lingering questions about the backstory or origins of any of the characters. Then the prequel came out, I never saw it.

I found myself wondering if I wanted to watch all the Star Wars movies, where should I begin? There were many opinions, some of which I did not read because the articles definitely had warnings they contained spoilers. The interesting thing was, people did not agree. Some suggested watching in an order other than by chronological release dates. Some said the prequels had spoilers of the original films.

So, as a reader or viewer, where do you stand on prequels? Are there times when a book leaves too many questions and you want more of the backstory? Do you want prequels to stand on their own? Being a huge Broadway fan, I loved the musical Wicked, but if I had never seen it I still would have loved The Wizard of Oz. Are prequels a marketing tool to cash in on a successful story?

As a writer, have you written a prequel? If so, why? Did it seem necessary or did you realize there was much more to tell than made sense in one book? Are prequels a tool to prevent too many flashbacks in a story? If you write a series or sequels, do the preceding stories automatically become prequels?

I remember taking some Master classes with well known authors and a few talked about keeping timelines and character spreadsheets to prevent mistakes in their writing. I can see where a series could get complicated quickly. I am famous for changing character names in a simple story let alone a series.

I am interested in your opinions both as a reader/viewer and as a writer.

(If you have thoughts on  the order in which to watch the entire Star Wars catalogue, I would be interested in your opinion on that as well. Just no spoilers please!)