Order! Order! It’s important.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

Do your books have to be read in any particular order?

To put this question in context, I have written four series and seven stand-alone novels. These series feature Sci-fi, Steampunk and Cozy Crime.

I’ve always tried to make every story capable of being read as a stand-alone, by referencing any past events in some way during the narrative, to let the reader know what had happened before. Not too much, just enough to ensure that everything made sense.

However, as some of my series have developed, the backstory has become more important as a driver of events. It’s becoming harder to get people up to speed without a certain amount of information dumping.

I hate information dumping, as a writer and as a reader.

It reminds me too much of reading textbooks, something I never enjoyed. I think it detracts from the pace of the new story and, crucially, it’s a little unfair to the readers who have stuck with the journey, having to read it all again, maybe several times as the new volumes arrive.

I can see the logic in leaving some things unsaid, it gives a reader who likes a book more of a reason to investigate the rest of the series. And you can’t keep reminding people about book one when you get to book six.

Which means you have to be careful about how much back story you reveal.

So, to answer the question, you should read my series in order but, if you happen upon a mid-series book, don’t worry. I’ve tried to make sure that you’ll be able to keep up.

Incidentally, all of my series were never intended to be series, as I wrote the first parts, I saw how the stories could go forward (or backward, even sideways) and just carried on with them. I found that, the more I did, the more ideas kept turning up.

I have sequels planned for at least two of my stand-alone stories, which raises the possibility that they too will become series. I suspect that number will continue to grow over time.

That’s the trouble with starting to write, once you put pen to paper, or fingers on the keys, there really is no limit to how far your characters can take you.

What about you, authors on this bloghop? Do your books need to be read in order?

Let me know below, then check out what my fellow writers have to say on the subject.

Until next time.

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8 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    I think I had a similar situation to you – I had never really intended for Chasing Shadows to be a series, but as I wrote it, I could see ideas and events that didn’t play into the main story being told!

    • Richard Dee

      My series were all unintentional. The characters in my early novels demanded more of my attention, I was unable to resist. Now I love finding out (and telling my readers) more about them.

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    At one point, my Harmony Duprie series was meant to be a romance books with different main characters in each book. Well, that didn’t happen!

    • Richard Dee

      That’s just the way it is. 🙂 I’ve learned to leave it to my characters, they know the way the stories are supposed to go far better than I do.

  3. snapdragon

    I dislike when authors info dump everything from the previous book in a series into the next book. Its why I’m going to spread the information of the events that happen in the first book out in the second.

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