I have this great character, Riley. She is a very pretty girl and very popular with the boys. She has a great job, as a reporter for a local TV station. Riley is a very feisty girl and has a good life, but she manages to get herself into trouble. Trouble with her boss. Trouble with her boyfriend. Trouble with her sister.
I want to write a story about Riley’s adventures, but it’s impossible to fit Riley’s story into the confines of a standard novel. Riley is worth somewhere around 3000 pages. How about a series? Since it’s about Riley and her adventures, we can call the series The Adventures of Riley. That should give the reader an idea of what’s the series is about.
Book One: Riley is in a relationship with a Homicide Detective. She gets involved in a murder case. Along the way, a young defense lawyer takes a shine to her and attempts to come between her and her detective. Lots of conflicts. Takes about 100,00 words to tell the entire story, including the murder trail and Riley’s relationships with her detective and the lawyer.
Book Two: Riley’s detective is assigned to a Federal Task Force, and the time he has available for Riley is limited. Riley gets involved with another man while also getting involved in a drug investigation. Probably another 100,00 works. No problem.
In Book One, I introduced Riley and told you all about her. Her relationship with her sister. How she managed to get such a great job. All about her boyfriend. So, when I write Book Two, I don’t need to repeat any of that information. You already know everything about Riley.
“But, Wait! What if you pick up Book Two, and have never read Book One. You won’t know anything about Riley. You may wonder how she managed to get such a great job at such a young age. Why is her detective boyfriend so upset about one simple date with another man. What’s the real story about her sister?
Here we have the conflict in writing a series. How much detail about the character must we include in each new book. For those readers who are reading anything but the first book, we need as much detail as possible.We have to tell them all about Riley, and her past adventures. Otherwise, some of the passages in this book won’t make any sense.
For those who have followed the entire series from Book One, we don’t need any detail. In fact, the details would seem redundant.
There is a very delicate balance which must be maintained between to much and too little information. It’s a different balance then writing a ‘Stand Alone’ book, and one I am finding difficult to master.
In my series, Danielle and Friends, each book is about a different couple. But as the name of the series would indicate, each couple is connected to Danielle in some way. If you’re reading The Front Porch, a story about Alex and Tony, how much do you need to know about their relationship with Danielle. You might say it depends on how much influence Danielle has on this story. But, without knowing who Danielle is, you may not understand why she has an influence on this other couple.
If you read the first book in the series, which is about Danielle, you’d know why she appears in all the other books. But, if The Front Porch is the only one of the series you read, you’d need more information about her. Where is the balance?
If I ever figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you know!