Sequels and descriptions

Bumming around with the first chapter of the second book. The revision process is a little less fun now, because book 2 needs a lot less work than book 1 did, even with all the cultural rebuilding I did. Mostly I’m killing off adverbs and adjectives, simplifying sentences, killing extra phrases that don’t need to be there.

One thing bugs me though: re-describing the characters. I know there’s a certain assumption that people who are reading the second book already read the first one, so they know this stuff and should only need a little refresher. On the other hand, there’s also an assumption someone bought the book without noticing the "Sequel to X" beneath the title, or forgot most everything between one book and the next, so they need you to re-hash everything. You need to remind them who is who, what they look like, what they’re all doing where they are now.

It used to drive me insane that every time I’d pick up an X-Men comic in high school I’d have to read about "the focused totality of my psychic powers" whenever Psylocke was on-page, and Wolverine’s "adamantine-laced skeleton and mutant healing factor." I understood that the writers were accounting for the fact that anyone could pick up an issue of X-Men, fans or not, and needed to know what was going on. At the same time, it seemed to punish regular fans by reguritating those phrases at us every dang month.

I know that novels aren’t something that come out every month so you need to pound that stuff into the reader, but you’ve got to have some level of recap in a sequel. It always feels awkward though. I never know how much is too much… and since I have a natural tendacy to over-describe and over-word my books, anything that requires me to artificially add more always makes me itchy.


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