Sunday, June 17, 2018

Writing in a series

Recently I sent my finished draft of Alien Vows off to my copy editor. Having finished a stage in the process of creating a book, I realized that wrestling with that story had made me reflect on how writing in a series is intrinsically different from writing a standalone story.

I have several book in my Three Con series, but that's a series only in the sense that the universe is shared. All the ThreeCon books assume a universe with the same history and level of technology, and there are some shared events but no shared characters. It doesn't matter what order you read them in.

The thing is, with a standalone story, clearly every reader is a new reader, With a true series where the same characters age throughout the books, you have to allow, at least to some extent, for three categories of readers:
  1. Those who recently read the previous book
  2. Those who never read the previous book
  3. Those who read the previous book, but it has been a good while
My two Haven books, The Sixth Discipline and No Safe Haven, are a true series with the same characters, and one is a sequel to the other. But with those books, trying to accommodate the second category of readers was less of an issue because there were no aliens with different biology. There was nothing about the cultures on Haven that needed elaborate description to make things clear to the reader. In Alien Bonds, Wakanrean biology has some fundamental differences from human biology, and those differences are crucial to the story. I have to balance how much I need to repeat a) how things work and b) what, specifically, happened in the first book when I narrate the second one. I don't want to annoy Category 1 readers or even Category 3 readers by trying to not lose Category 2.

And of course, this is Book 2 of a trilogy. I already have a very rough draft for Book 3, Alien Skies, and this is one thing that I'll have to consider all over again after I get Book 2 published and go back to working on Book 3. I'll have even more places where I need to evaluate how much info can and should be repeated.

I've never put the two covers side by side before; I rather like how different they are because the second book covers a new generation. There are, in fact, two new protagonists, even though the original two make an appearance in the second story.

It's always exciting giving birth to a book.

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