Tricky! One of the issues with writing a series is keeping the relevant information flowing without upsetting past storylines, various surprises and/or spoiling the climaxes that have come in the books before – It probably doesn’t much matter for those readers following the series in sequence, but what about those who choose not to read the books in order?
This is where it really becomes vital that each book truly stands alone.
I didn’t think about any of this when that first concept of a book expanded into a series. One book. Many books. Sounded great (it is great). I did realize early on that I didn’t want to produce a serial where a story just goes on and on with no ending. Fortunately, there is no problem giving each book of the series its own story, lead characters, plot and climax. Keeping the ties in place however, from one book to the next, takes a little fancy penmanship.
I don’t use prologues or epilogues. As a reader, I don’t mind a prologue and an epilogue always feels like something extra – I just don’t use them. Nor do I want to stop the story to explain anything. The line and flow has to remain strong and gripping.
That means reintroducing characters and/or past events as though they were new without overdoing it. Readers might well learn that the Good Guys won in whatever that book was, but new-to-the-series-and-not-in-order readers don’t want to learn how. Ideally, they’ll want to go and find out how by reading that book!
So – new stories with aspects from the past, and that means there’s a fine balance to be found. Weaving in the past without over-telling it is and will always be important when writing a series.
Do you enjoy reading a series? Do you write one? How do you cope with past issues in your books?