Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Anticipation

C'mon, fellow YA readers, you know what's coming next week. Chant it with me...
Mock-Ing-Jay!
Mock-Ing-Jay!
Mock-Ing-Jay!

I'm re-reading Hunger Games and Catching Fire this week. I love getting the next installment of a new series.  But, with Mockingjay coming out just four days after Adversary, I got to thinking about a problem with book series...

How do you keep the reader's knowledge of specifics--characters, relationships, past plot developments, and/or alternate history? If you write paranormal stuff, readers also need to know about special abilities or twists on cannon. Do your vampires sparkle in sunlight rather than bursting into flames? Do your werewolves change form with ambient temperature rather than moon-cycle?

If you don't refresh their memories, readers will be confused by some of the new plot ("Who's that guy, and what on earth is he doing?").  If you give them too much of a refresher as everything starts up again, your first chapters drag. 

In Adversary, I wrote a "Dear Reader" letter for the opening which gave a quick overview of the main characters, their abilities, Ganzfield, G-positives, and dodecamine. In Legacy, I've done the same, but also added a bit of information about the plot developments from the last book.  I've been making final revisions this week--it goes to the editor in the first week of September. I keep wondering which way to err. Too little info might confuse people, but too much might bore them or at least make them say, "I know this already!"  So, now I'm asking you:

When you read a series, do you prefer to have a lot of reminders in the opening chapters, or do you prefer to have the story pick up immediately and assume you know the details from the previous books?  

Thanks again to Lea at YA Book Queen for hosting my guest post yesterday, and thanks to all of you who clicked over and said hi!   


* Image copyright Jennifer Larson, http://www.an-architecture.com/2010/04/couch-cushion-architecture.html 
* Wine not included. No, this isn't my living room; I found the picture on an architecture website.  Really.

9 comments:

Disgruntled Bear said...

BTW, my copy of Mockingjay has been pre-ordered since January. Back then it was called "Hunger Games 3" on Amazon and had no cover art.

coley said...

I like to have the story pretty much pick up where it left off, maybe one chapter of a re-cap sort of thing. I tend to re-read the previous books in the series before the new one comes out to refresh myself anyways. (Or sometimes I've read the previous books so much I could tell the story by heart!)

Disgruntled Bear said...

I tend to re-read the ones I've really loved (Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.), but I don't have time to do it for every book. The last House of Night just jumped right in, and it took me a while to remember who everyone was, where they were, what colored marks they all had on their faces, and what those marks meant.

I've tried something new with the "Previously, at Ganzfield..." letter, and I really hope it works!

aspiring_x said...

MOCKINGJAY!! MOCKINGJAY!!!
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
*ahem*
i like for the book to pick up fairly quickly, i get really annoyed by all the reminder stuff... i think your dear reader letter is PERFECT! what an excellent idea!

mockingjay! :)

i just got my copy of mockingjay preordered (drop in price coninciding with a gift certificate is a beautiful thing!) and i'm SUPER SUPER SUPER excited!!

MOCKINGJAY!!!!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I tend to remember the ones I love, like HP, etc. Vampire Academy 'Frostbite' Richelle Mead wrote a little catch up section at the beginning, but I was ready to dive in.

I can't wait for Mockingjay either...not long now. I'm avoiding any sites that even try to spoil it for me. lol.

Vicki Rocho said...

Haven't read this series yet. (Sigh) I'm so far behind the cool crowd it's not even funny.

Disgruntled Bear said...

I seem to have found a pocket of kindred spirits here at the 'Bear.

shariwrites said...

I usually like the book to pick up where it left off. I don't mind a little comment thrown in here or there, but they usually bother me because I know they're only there to catch us up. If the book was being written without any previous books, those comments wouldn't be in the story.

I totally like the idea of some kind of plot summary from the previous book.

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