1. louis1
    Offline

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    7

    Question about sequels.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by louis1, Oct 11, 2012.

    When writing a sequel, how much should I re-introduce the characters and back story?
    I'm having a hard time balancing between giving a new reader enough information and not bore a reader who read the first book.
    Any tips?

    Please don't tell me not to write a sequel, that's not what i'm asking for. ( I know about this already ) Thank you.
     
  2. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    my best tip is to not write a sequel unless your first stand-alone novel is selling like hotcakes...

    of course, if you're only self-publishing and not trying to get an agent and a paying press to take it on, that's another story... in which case, i'd say to study how the authors of bestselling sequels do it...
     
  3. louis1
    Offline

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    7
    okay thanks, let's say I have a first stand-alone novel is selling like hotcakes just to focus the thread on what I'm asking for. Thanks
     
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Series you may want to study (even if the genre is not your thing):

    Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series, from "The Hunt for Red October" through "Dead or Alive" (including the prequel, "Red Rabbit", written in 2002).
    W.E.B. Griffitn's "The Corps" (aka "Semper Fi") Series or his "Brotherhood of War" series.
    Richard Hooker's "M*A*S*H" series ("M*A*S*H", "M*A*S*H Goes to Maine" and "M*A*S*H Mania" - do NOT include any of the spinoff novels he did with William Butterworth to capitalize on the television show).
    C.P. Snow's "Strangers and Brothers" series - much more loosely connected than the other series that are mentioned, but better written than any of them.
    Allan Drury's "Advise and Consent" series ("Advise and Consent", "A Shade of Difference", "Capable of Honor" and "Preserve and Protect" - spare yourself the alternate conluding works, "Come Nineveh, Come Tyre" and "The Promise of Joy"). Probably only available in the second-hand market by now.

    Also, it has been pointed out in other threads that a series of sequels and a trilogy are two different things. A trilogy differs from a sequel in that it is a single story broken into three parts, and so no refresher of the reader's memory is needed. A sequel (or series of sequels), OTOH, is a series of stories, each building on the foundation of what came before, each presented as a separate work. Asimov's Foundation novels were conceived and published as a trilogy, but then also produced two sequels ("Foundation's Edge" and "Forward the Foundation") and a prequel ("Before the Foundation"). There was also a book, "Foundation and Earth", which may have been a spinoff (haven't read it). You have to admire a writer who knows how to milk a cash cow franchise.
     
  5. louis1
    Offline

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    7
    Ahh okay thanks. I did not know the difference, I'm writing a trilogy so it's unnecessary to remind people of details about the people and the place?

    That's great to know thank. A load off my shoulders really.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    each book should be able to stand alone and be enjoyed/understood as if that's the only book that author wrote... bookbuyers/readers don't like to be forced into buying a prior book to figure out what's going on in the one they're reading...
     
  7. louis1
    Offline

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    7
    Okay mammamaia, so you're saying the exact opposite of EdFromNY.

    I guess what's best is making sure they're all stand alone but without ever repeating myself. that's a challenge
     
  8. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Actually, we're addressing different parts of the issue. My post described the difference in approach between trilogies and sequels, and mammamaia described something that is true of both.

    If you look at a trilogy like Foundation, the three component volumes really are separate stories, and I would think that any of them could stand alone. It's just that you would miss something. OTOH, anyone who walked into a bookstore and picked up "Second Foundation" would see that it was the 3rd book in the series, and would look for the first volume. But that's why you almost never hear of a trilogy as an author's first published work - the costs are too high for publishers to take the chance on making such a large investment in an unknown and unproven writer.
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    In fact, the Foundation series was originally a compilation of several short stories and novellas published in science fiction magazines. Asimov did some cleanup and added some material to bring them into a uniform series of novels, years after most of the individual stories were written.

    No new writer should be planning a series. A new writer has too much to learn, and publishers don't want to take the risk of a series from a new writer anyway. Hell, they are sticking their necks way out whenever they take a chance on a standalone novel from a new writer!
     
  10. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I did not know that.

    I know that!
     

Share This Page