It occurred to me last night, whilst lying in bed completely failing to get to sleep, that there’s a factor to writing sequels that I haven’t yet taken into consideration. I’ve written sequels in the past but never with a view to getting an audience for them. Spiritus and Animus… well, I’m actively trying to get them published. That means I have to approach the sequel a bit differently, on the basis that not everyone reading it will have read Spiritus first.
In Spiritus, I spent some time setting up the background – how society and the world works, history, magic, different races, and so on. It wasn’t just set-up – in many instances it was an integral part of the story. With Animus, that’s no longer the case. The story has, in my head at least, moved on beyond that to ‘what happens next’. So how much of that starting information do I need to include again, and how much space do I need to give it?
I’ve given myself one advantage in that the narrator’s perspective is very different this time, so a lot of opinions will change. That means I can give them again without really repeating myself, providing both set-up for first-time readers and an interesting insight for a returning audience. The thing to be aware of is that the audience isn’t as clued up on this world in my head as I am, and I can’t write as if they are. At the same time, I can’t bore the people who read the first book by telling them stuff they already know – particularly since, in a sense, I’m already doing that with the plot by telling the same story from the other side. It’s a delicate balance, as with so much in writing, and I’ll need to be that little bit more self-aware in order to achieve it.