Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

For Series Writers

I'm writing the second Nicholas Colt thriller, and the storyline in book #1 is very much pertinent to the storyline in book #2. I don't want to assume that everyone who reads book #2 will have already read book #1, so I'm trying to incorporate all the back story into the first few chapters. I'm using some exposition, and some dialogue, and trying to avoid the dreaded "info dump."

For those of you writing a series, how do you generally handle back story?


Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

I'm not a series writer, but I'm going to butt in anyway. I don't think you should do any (substantial) backstory at all. Think James Bond: He gets his new toys, he orders it shaken, not stirred, and he flirts with Moneypenny. He does NOT discuss his previous escapades. That would turn us off.

Just have your character be himself.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Steve. Probably good advice, although I've always heard Bond was a rather flat character in the novels.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I try to keep it to a minimum.

Note that Sue Grafton often has a paragraph or two in the first chapter of each novel explaining how old the character is, what she does for a living, and a little bit about herself--maybe a paragraph or two--and that seems fine.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Mark. I have almost all of Grafton's novels, but I think I've only actually read J is for Judgment.

Gives me an idea. I'll look at her #1 and #2 and see how she handled the transition.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Douglas Dorow said...

I've written the first book in a series and started the second. I'm no expert. But I've read plenty of books in series.

I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but don't info dump. The pertinent parts of the back story should come out in dialogue and character interactions. If it can't come out that way, then it probably doesn't really matter and will feel forced to the reader.

Good luck


8:29 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thank you, Douglas. I think you (and Stephen and Mark) are absolutely right, and since I've posted this I have eliminated about 1500 words of back story. It just wasn't needed.

9:46 AM  

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