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crime fiction > sequels and standalones

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message 1: by Jude (new)

Jude Tresswell | 21 comments My second novel, Polyamory on Trial, went live at the end of August. Writing it posed three main problems, one of which I'd be pleased to hear people's opinions on.
According to the blurb - and my intention - Poly on T can be read as either a sequel to Badge of Loyalty or as a standalone. Is being both a possibility?
I am, as I've posted before, a huge fan of a Scottish author called Jack Dickson. He wrote some standalones (Crossing Jordan, Oddfellows) but he also wrote a trilogy about a gay cop/ ex-cop called Jas Anderson. By sheer chance, I read the three books in the order they were written. My favourite is Some kind of love, the third in the trio. If I had read the three books out of order, I wouldn't have been half as satisfied. Some bits of background story do appear in Some kind of love's first chapter. Some references to earlier characters are sprinkled across the pages. Had I not already been fully aware of the nature of the protagonists' relationship, though, and of the events which brought them together... Oh! I'd have missed so much!
And so to my two books.
I've tried to get 'new' readers up to speed as quickly as I can, working information in around the dialogue, and sometimes, directly, but I can't repeat Badge of Loyalty's story, and I'm very aware that readers who haven't met my four lovely men before might wonder what the hell is going on. (I think my men are lovely, anyway! A couple of Goodreads reviewers didn't agree!) The hints and little details serve another purpose, of course. I hope they'll tempt 'new' readers to backtrack and buy the first book.
I'd be interested in general thoughts about this sort of writing dilemma. I'd be interested in thoughts about the degree of success I've had in dealing with it.

message 2: by Meg (new)

Meg Perry | 11 comments Hi Jude, I deal with this all the time, since I'm 16 books into my series. All of the experts - i.e. people who've been writing series far longer than me - say that each book might be the one that a reader picks up for the first time, so you have to assume that they don't know anything about your characters. I find that usually a sentence does the trick; I try not to do long paragraphs about what happened before. And yes, I hope it's enough enticement to make the reader go back and pick up the rest of the series! I've started series in the middle, and then gone back, and remember thinking, 'Oh, this makes sense now...'

Here's an example from a WIP.
Brian Cochrane was at the door. When he saw me he shook his head, grinning. “I didn’t even know you were in town until Mike Chavez told me. I should have, though. An off-the-wall death turns up, and here you are.”
I laughed. “Oh, come on. This is only the second one.” The first was during my initial visit to Alamogordo, when a TV host named Dixon Gill crashed to his demise through the skylight of Steve’s office building.

message 3: by Jude (new)

Jude Tresswell | 21 comments Thanks, Meg. Your comment is much appreciated.

message 4: by Jude (new)

Jude Tresswell | 21 comments Glad to say that the reviews of the third book in the series (Ace in the Picture, published March 2019) were pretty unanimous in feeling that I had the balance right. I do sometimes wonder if I've written a series or a serial. I'll be publishing the fourth one soon, so, fingers crossed.

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