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Author Resource Round Table > Backtracking in a sequel

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message 1: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Peltier | 71 comments So, as a reader, I find it extremely annoying and distracting to read the second, third, etc installment of a series and constantly being reminded of what happened back in book 1. But pretty much every author I've read has done that. Why is that? and is it necessary? The way I look at it, if you didn't read the first book, you shouldn't be reading the 2nd! I'm writing a sequel right now and am wondering how much back tracking I really need to do. Thoughts?

message 2: by Michael Cargill (last edited Aug 23, 2013 08:51AM) (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 217 comments I'd imagine that the people faithfully following the story as the books are released might find the reminders useful.

I recently read all the Game of Thrones books on the trot and found the recounts a bit annoying in places, but helpful in others due to the sheer amount of characters involved. Remember that there's a gap of two years or more in between each book.

message 3: by Darth J (new)

Darth J  (j___) I actually like when an author reminds me of something that happened a few books ago in a series. Similar to what Michael said, there are usually long gaps between book releases. I like a refresher every now and then, especially of details I had forgotten. It's helpful to me, at least.

For your own book, do as much backtracking as you are comfortable with. It's your story, after all. Happy writing :)

message 4: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments Personnaly, I stopped reading The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (after the sixth or seventh book)because of the backtracking. The further I read the longer the backtracking became to a point I felt it was just old trash mashed and served again. I felt the 600 pages + could have been easily cut down to 350 or so without it.
I don't mind a little backtrack as long as it is well incorporated in the story, (when it calls for them). For instance, if it is the base of the story, I don't want to be reminded of it every time. If I liked the book it is most likely because of that said base and I am more than likely remembering it. (Example of it would be: if no man can be a sorcerer I should be able to remember that no?)
Little things like who a person is or what he or she did previously can be reminded within the story without looking like a recap, so that I don't mind and of course, it can help when the story has many characters.
Sometimes I am wondering if a short recap in lieu of a prologue wouldn't be better than to spoil the whole book with endless 'old stuff'. Well, that's just my opinion. :)

message 5: by Jenelle (last edited Aug 23, 2013 10:54AM) (new)

Jenelle I think to some extent it depends on the age group your book is meant for.... In children's and ya, backtracking is very common, almost expected... At some point, usually in chapter 2, the author gives a brief summary of who each character is and what happened in the last book.

However, in books meant for older audiences, I think it's a waste of page space and not as necessary (though, if your books are super long, involved, are more than 3-5 books long, and contain countless characters, aka Robert Jordan's wheel of time series, then it might be helpful to do some backtracking every now and then....

message 6: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Holloway | 393 comments I read a lot of books. Sometimes I will read several books by different authors and then read read sequels as they come out. I like to be reminded of the relationships between the characters etc. In my Judith McCain series, I remind the readers that Julia is Judith's twim sister etc. Because I figure that the readers read more authors books than me. All five of the books stand alone, that is, you canread them out of order because they are all different cases. It's kind of like Patricia Cornwell does with Kay Scarpetta. When you read her books, you are constantly reminded that Lucy is her niece. So, it's more of a reminder than anything else.

message 7: by G.G. (last edited Aug 23, 2013 10:35AM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments Well, that is what I meant. When it is reminded by way of the story, for example in yours, Geoffrey, if your heroine goes to the gym in a sequence, you might mention what she is doing there (Taekwondo) and with her moves it could be easy to hint that she is left handed without looking like you pushed it out yet again to readers. THAT I don't mind and in fact I appreciate it. It is also usually short and sweet, not pages of "I knew that already" experience.

message 8: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Banks | 65 comments As a heavy reader depending on when the books come out I might find it annoying. Most authors don't release the installments back to back. We're usually waiting a year or more for the next installment and lets be honest a lot can happen in that time for us to forget stuff. I think it's a catch 22 you're dammed if you do dammed if you don't.

message 9: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle Ginette wrote: "Well, that is what I meant. When it is reminded by way of the story, for example in yours, Geoffrey, if your heroine goes to the gym in a sequence, you might mention what she is doing there (Taekwo..."


message 10: by C.M.J. (new)

C.M.J. Wallace | 193 comments In writing my series, I repeat characters' full names at first mention and very little else, aside from perhaps some physical description.

When I read series and there's been a lag of years between book releases, I reread the entire series and then start in on the new book, so too much recapping annoys me.

message 11: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments You know--now that we all have websites for our works (grin) Just do the back track there. It would be easy to just print a URL in the book in the acknowledgements or some where there at the front and say---if you want to know the salient points of what happened before, go here.....

message 12: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments And this is the other way to handle back story---just keeping publishing!

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