Saturday, 12 June 2010
This is turning into an accidental mini-series on exposition; you might want to check out my earlier thoughts on the importance of subtlety and expository dialogue.
I'm currently working on a sequel to REBELLION (yeah! Volume 1 finally has a title!). And a sequel opens a whole new can of worms so far as exposition is concerned. How to make the new book accessible to a new reader, without boring or alienating those who've already read volume one?
On a lot of TV shows, each episode opens with a reminder of pertinent scenes from earlier episodes. It would feel clumsy to put a similar "The story so far..." get-out in a book, but the need is still there. It just isn't safe to assume that every reader will have read the previous book.
Well, I suppose you could simply insist - but that would be not only arrogant, but counterproductive. If someone happens across a later volume in a bookshop or a library, wouldn't it be preferable if they could read it right away and then (if they enjoyed it) go back to read the earlier books afterwards?
I actually have to face up to this twice, since it seems that the Charanthe series has morphed into a trilogy (against my better judgement - fantasy trilogies are such a cliche....).
In both cases, without really planning it, I have new characters appearing within the first few pages. This definitely helps: there are questions that would naturally be asked, which will help me to bring out a tiny bit of context.
There's only one way to find out whether it works, though: I'm going to need to find some test readers who haven't read any of the series so far. Because there's only so much pretending-I-don't-know-my-own-story that I can do!
I'm in Greenland! I promise to catch up on comments, and come round and visit you all, just as soon as I get home. I'll try to keep in touch via Twitter and my Facebook page.