Thursday 12 January 2012

On Writing a Series

So I started writing the sequel to Ravensborough today. For those of you who don't know, Ravensborough is the young adult urban fantasy novel that I entered in last year's ABNA contest.

It was strange writing as a character that I hadn't visited for almost a year. I really enjoyed being back in the world and meeting up with my secondary characters.

I found that I slipped back into Scarlett's voice relatively easily, and the dialogue came naturally enough. My main problem was this - when writing the second part of a series, how do you pace the details of what happened in the first book? I want to avoid info-dumps at all costs.

I think it's even more difficult with fantasy, because as well as letting the new reader know what happened in the first book, you have to let them know the rules of the world you created. It's a lot of information and it can overwhelm a new reader while boring someone who read the first instalment senseless. I know I tend to skim read when I'm reading the 'last season' recap in books.

Anyone got any tips for me?

(Thanks for all the support while Polly was in hospital. Thankfully she's now home and healthy.)


  1. My series was based on real life, so I didn't have the same issues you do with fantasy. My five books overlapped though, so backstory was provided through similar events only seen through a different character's eyes.

  2. Glad to hear Polly is doing better!

    I tried not to recap my first book too much in the second, other than a few references when they felt natural. I wrote it with the idea that it would only be read by people who'd read the first... which may or may not work! We'll have to wait and see.

  3. I try to slip backstory in a few sentences here and few there because, like you, I tend to skim it when its in solid chunks!

  4. My only advice is to read other books that have done it well. The Maximum Ride series is a good place to start :)

  5. I agree with J.A. Bennett about reading other book series to see how the author did it. I haven't read the Maximum Ride series, but I did just get done reading the last book in the Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead. She does a good job of incorporating everything a reader from the start already knows into the later books for new readers.
    I'm sorry to hear Polly was sick, but I'm glad she's out of hospital. Sending healthy thoughts to you and your family!

  6. I am glad polly is out of the hospital!


  7. Oh, man--that is such a hard thing to figure out. I think my instinct is to write too much and I haven't quite mastered the art of pulling it back out again. I think, though--that process--putting it in then pulling it out--will leave in what you need most naturally. Good luck!

  8. I'm currently writing my second in a series and this has come up as an issue. It's been great to read the other comments on your blog. I think attempting to use only a couple of sentences at a time is a great idea because that way you aren't going to drag readers down into an info dump, but are giving them an idea of what went before. I like the idea of reading other series as well. I'm due to start reading another book in a series, so I will be paying attention to how the author works it.

  9. This reminds me of the Babysitters Club Books I used to read as a preteen. Every book had a whole chapter devoted to introducing the characters (again) and their roles within the club (again). I used to skim the heck out of those chapters.