Monday, October 02, 2006

How much?

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned one dilemma I face when I'm writing a series, and that is how much information from a previous book to include in the book I'm currently writing.

The short answer is, as little as possible. For one thing, I don't want to bring the pace to a screeching halt while some Basil Exposition relays the plot of the previous book. For another, I want every book I write to "stand alone" -- I don't want readers to feel lost if they pick up a later book in the series.

That's why I usually move the action of the current book away from the other books in the series, to a different castle or town. That way, the main characters of this book aren't meeting up with the past characters, although, as in the current w-i-p, they may think about them sometimes. But those thoughts also have to do with the backstory and motivation of the current characters, especially if we're talking family members. Even so, I try to keep them to a minimum, because those previous characters have already had their story. Now it's the "new" characters' turn to be in the limelight.

That said, I do want readers to think, "Oh, there was a book before this? About some of the same people? I've got to buy that now!" Sales mean I can keep writing, after all. So I'll sometimes have the previous book(s)'s hero or heroine or both make a cameo appearance, usually at the beginning or end of the new book.

In some ways, writing sequels is easier -- I've already "met" the main characters -- but finding the line between what a reader needs to know from a previous book and what you can/should leave out can make it tricky, too.


Kathy K said...

I have to say that I've enjoyed tremendously all your books; and the connected stories are great in that you don't have to do a back search on information. That said, I do like the relation between characters and books, too. The last two, HERS TO COMMAND and HERS TO DESIRE were terrific reads and over FAR too soon! Very much looking forward to your next book!


Margaret Moore said...

Thanks, Kathy! Your comments made my day!