Man, I thought world-building was tough. As much as I love going into the details of a place and its people in my stories, even I must admit that it can be a lot of work.
But I had no idea just how difficult it could be to world-build for a second time.
One of my mantras for the last two years has been that The Warden of Everfeld: Legacy is not a traditional sequel. Some of the characters from WoEM are carried over, but ultimately, I want it to be an independent story. I want a reader to pick up WoEL and feel just as immersed in the world without having to read its predecessor first.
That is much easier said than written.
Two of my characters in Legacy, in particular, follow story arcs that are the direct result of events that occurred in Memento. This brings up some difficult questions that I am frankly not sure how to answer yet:
- I don’t want to leave a new reader (someone who hasn’t read Memento) out in the cold, so the info must be included. How do I convey that background without simply rehashing Memento in info-dumps?
- In the same vein, I don’t want people who already read Memento to feel like they’re getting the same info twice. Is there a way I can give the necessary background without being redundant?
- Is all of this just a matter of sprinkling in the previous context in small bites, so that new readers feel in the loop and old readers are still reading a new story?
So far, I have gone with option 3, revealing small bites of detail through dialogue or perhaps the character’s train of thought to not overload the narrative with background that some readers may already understand.
This still leaves me with one conundrum…
At a certain point, a new reader has to understand certain basic details about the character’s background in order to buy into their arc and feel the stakes rising.
These are not details that I want to tease out over the course of the entire book. I want to drop this context as soon as possible and run with the new arc. Doing so naturally, it seems, is the problem.
Dear other writer friends: How have you solved this dilemma? Or did you avoid it all together by just throwing your hands up and saying READ BOOK ONE!!!! Because I’m considering that as an option.