Revisiting Characters Years Later
There is a wonderful series on Youtube Red (soon to be on Netflix) called Cobra Kai. For those who don't know, Cobra Kai is a follow-up to the extremely popular film The Karate Kid from the early 80's. Cobra Kai picks up with Johnny Lawrence and Daniel Laruso after their highly publicized fight at the All Valley Karate Championships. Unlike the movie, the series follows both characters as they try to navigate adulthood.
Daniel is now a successful business owner while Johnny is down on his luck. Through a few turn of events they wind up facing each other at the All Valley once again...albeit through their respective students. This series was a great example of revisiting characters and storylines years later and not missing a beat. It was full of throwbacks to the original film including locations, one-liners, and even the soundtrack!
All in all it was a great love-letter to a beloved movie but more than that the series stood on its own without diminishing the characters or story from the film. It also introduced new characters and set up plot lines for season 2.
Question is: How can you relate that to your novels?
We all know by now how novels are birthed. An idea is impregnated in your brain that must claw its way out before the host body is threatened. Said novel is then nurtured through the initial pages, edited, and sent off into the world to find its place. But sometimes that novel returns with luggage in hand looking for a place to crash for the night, which inevitably turns into months and then years. I know it sounds like I'm speaking about children, right? Well, in a way, a writer's work is their baby. Sometimes a beautiful blessed child and at others a spoiled brat.
I have a fond place in my heart for everything I write even if it never sees the light of day. My novel Karma had a strange journey. The novel itself is the story of a young woman who's life is turned upside down at the revelation that she has superpowers. Throughout my process of writing it, the initial story changed several times. I knew I wanted to incorporate magical realism and fantasy elements as an ongoing theme in my writing (I grew up reading Dean Koontz afterall!) but I also realized I wanted to make the focus of this series a very human interest story. I mean, what would you do if you suddenly realized your entire life was a lie?
Karma was released in 2016 and met with some stellar reviews. At that time I intended to do a sequel immediately afterwards in the continuation of what I'm now calling the Silke's Strikeforce Series but life has a way of making you wait. Fast forward to 2020 after a great deal of bumps in the road and I finally returned to the series. I was up for the challenge but it quickly became daunting. It had been awhile since I'd seen Silke and her crazy friends. I'd been knee deep in other projects like my first self-help book Be Your Own Superhero. So I had to go back and find out who these characters were, what made them tick?
What I found out is that when you create characters they become a part of you. As soon as you breathe life into them they remain with you for all time, ever so subtle but still alive in your memory. It didn't take me long to pick right up where I left off...and let me tell you its been fun. I've also been introducing new characters along the way through the series that I didn't expect to show up. That is the magic of writing!
I really did enjoy revisiting my old friends and putting them through more ordeals and troubles they had to find their way out of. My teams Silke's Strikeforce (the heroes) and The Sin Squad (the villains), are comprised of a diverse cast each complex in their narratives. The best characters are real, flawed, and genuine in their motives.