Working a sequel. Have questions. How much does one backstory at the beginning to remind readers where your protagonist came from and how she got to where she is in a new book? Here's what I have for the start of book 3 in my "Protectorit" series. Any input would be welcome. Lines went over when I copied to this site and hated to cut last sentence in half, so fudged a bit on the 13 lines . . . sorry.
Kathy awoke to the hum of the Lady Jinni’s great engines. Tammaru was gone, though only a thought away. She checked the mental portal to him. His essence was stirring with colors indicating he was active and busy. She gently curtained the telepathic connection to him as he was obviously at work running the vast military of the Councillorship of the Twelve Expanses. She lay there relishing having the huge bed to herself after sleeping with a man who was the exact genetic duplicate of the man she’d fallen in love with. In reality Tammaru and Omacron Ki were as different from each other as two identical men could be. She scanned the stars floating by out the window with their soft glowing reds and yellows of distant nebulas. She sighed. Her life had changed so vastly it was incomprehensible. “You are no
G'day Kelly. I have been asked by a few people: how do you start book 2, or 3, or whatever? I have always replied that Book 2 should be able to stand alone, by itself. It should have a beginning, middle and a satisfying end, just as any story does.
But, here's the problem the author needs to work out satisfactorily -- You don't want to frighten off new readers with an incomprehensible opening and you don't want to bore those who have bought Book One.
IMHO, the lines above are, to me, about incomprehensible things -- hence, I'm confused right at the start and wouldn't be bothered trying to struggle through to gain the necessary understanding. I'm not saying the prose is bad or the storytelling is lacking finesse, I simply saying I'm confused.
What I want to know is who is she, where is she and what's her problem? It's hard to do in 13 lines, it's even harder to do in one sentence but Hemingway did it in "The Old Man and the Sea."
"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish."
That really does sum up who he is, where he is and what his problem is. I wish I could do that too, but I struggle just like most of us.
Hope this provides a little morsel of food for thought.
Thanks grumpy. Good suggestions. Was "The Old Man and the Sea" a sequel? Really? Getting too old, can't remember. Book one, I start Dr. O'Donnell off in her ER questioning why she wasn't at CDC doing real medicine and explain how she had to return home to Newport, Oregon to take care of her mother. Now she's bored, disappointed in life, and wishing she were anywhere but there. She gets her wish! I'll look at how I start #2 again.
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The Old Man and the Sea was not a sequel, to set your mind at ease. What it does do is tell the reader who the main character is, where he is, what he is doing and what he is struggling to achieve (his goal), and all packed into one sentence of twenty-seven words.
And no, I'm not suggesting you try and out Hemingway, Hemingway; that would be a cruel and unusual punishment.
I would suggest you look at Book 2 and work out how much information from Book 1 is needed to understand book 2. If it's minimal, find a way to, show it at best, tell it at worst, in a quick way and early on. Just to get it out of the way. If there are things that require 'massive' amounts of prior knowledge, ask yourself if there is any way to change the story so you don't need 20K words of back-story.