Round two of my thoughts on series. As I mentioned in the last "Series" post, I really wanted to veer into the topic of keeping the continuation of the story without overloading the reader with large info dumps.
This aspect has really been the hardest for me to overcome. When it comes down to it, the previous books in your series become back story to the current book. I personally have problems with back story and try to keep it at a minimum. But you can't do that in a series. All the back story is important and the reader has to be "caught up" on what's happened.
I mean, come on, there's no break in the characters "lives", yet there's months between the release of each book. That means that my characters don't need caught up, but the reader does.
In my first drafts, I'm usually too scarce with back story. Through my first couple revisions I have to figure out where to remind the reader what's happened, why the character is reacting or feeling a certain way, why a decision was made or not made, or why someone likes or dislikes someone else. All this without allowing the previous story to take over the current book's storyline.
It can be tedious to say the least.
What I usually find is that the first couple of chapters end up with heavy info drops...I'm not going to say info dumps, because I think there's a difference between drops and dumps. Don't ask me how, I just do...
...Where was I? Oh yes...
At least heavy from my perspective. Now, like with book 2, my beta readers felt the information was fine and actually asked for more in some parts, as my background info didn't match the pace of all the active characters. Because, face it, in a series book 2 and on has all the characters already actively engaged. There's no time to slowly introduce them and bring them "into the fold" so to speak.
It makes this doubly hard when book 1 has different main characters than in book 2 and so on, because you have to get this information across from people who were secondary to the situation in the previous book.
But, I think in the end I relied on my beta readers and the end result came out fantastic. I just had to stretch my comfort zone in my writing style a bit.
That's what we writers want, right? Right??
I did learn that a series with a single set, or group, of characters is not for me. This new series I'm working on has the same world, but each book is a different agent on a different case, and at different periods of time (backward or forward). So, I have enough leeway on where I take the story depending on the science I learn each time. Plus, I don't need to rely on the characters or back story of previous books.
All in all, I think I found the right framework that fits my writing style, and I enjoyed the challenging journey into series writing. The Telomere Trilogy was a fantastic adventure, and I'm oh so found of those group of characters. I know they'll do well on their continued fictional journey away from my laptop.
What obstacles have you all faced in series writing? How did you overcome the dreaded info drops (no dumps...no, not that)?