Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How much is too much?

When you’re reading a series and the author mentions something that happened in a previous book, how much do you want to know?

There are plenty of opinions on this. Some people would say, “There should be a lot of recap in a series. I don’t want to be lost, especially if I happen to be reading the books out of order.” Some would say, “There should be as little recap as possible. It’s boring, and hinting at previous events makes me curious to go read them while giving away plot points makes me think I can skip that book.” Still others would say, “Why are you reading a series out of order? What is wrong with you?”

The same person’s answer might change in different situations. Was the previous book just finished or was there two years and fifty books between them? Is the event important to the current plot? I’ve read a few books with so much recap, I groaned every time I had to skim to something new. Even when deemed necessary, recap can be done poorly. I read something recently that felt as though the author inserted a blurb for an earlier book in the middle of the one I was reading. That was kind of annoying. None of this is meant as criticism, or at least not harsh criticism, just to say that I seem to be on the side of people who only want to reread material I’ve made the choice to reread.

When an author is working on a series, she needs to remember that this is definitely one of those you can’t please everyone situations. She might use that as an excuse to do whatever she wants. But probably not. She’s probably doing her best to not confuse anyone while not boring anyone else.