Writing Nowadays: The Story So Far

Steven Harper PiziksBack when I wrote the Silent Empire, I wanted each book to stand completely alone so that no matter what order readers might find them, they could read them all.  I also wanted to avoid the problem of readers saying, “Oh–this is book two, and there’s no sign of book one anywhere. Never mind!”  This is why each book says, “A Novel of the Silent Empire” on it instead of “Silent Empire Book I.”

When it came to the Clockwork Empire , I wanted to do something similar.  The trouble is, I had an overarcing story that made it difficult.  Additionally, readers always forget some details–they read Book I many months ago, and they forget, say, that Alice met Gavin when he was only 17, or that Gavin’s best friend died in an air pirate attack.  I needed to remind returning readers of key details and give new readers a chance to slip into the story, and I didn’t want to do it by trying to sneak in all kinds of exposition into the book itself.

And then I hit upon “The Story So Far.”

TV shows do it, after all.  How many shows can you count that start with, “Previously on . . .” to remind you what happened a few episodes ago?  And why couldn’t my novel do the same?

So I started THE IMPOSSIBLE CUBE with a sort-of prologue called “The Story So Far.”  It was supposedly written by the book’s editor, and he enthusiastically welcomes back old readers and heartily greets new ones.  Then he tells everyone quite pointedly that if you already remember everything from THE DOOMSDAY VAULT, you can skip right ahead to Chapter One, but if you need a quick orientation, feel free to read this prologue.  I deliberately wrote the material as fast and funny–no reason a big hunk of blatant exposition can’t be interesting!  Then I held my breath.

Reviewers loved it.  A great many reviews and blogs mentioned how much they liked a section that reminded them of details from the previous book, and one blogger said the information let him read THE IMPOSSIBLE CUBE without getting THE DOOMSDAY VAULT first.  So I started THE DRAGON MEN and THE HAVOC MACHINE the same way, to equal success.

Now I’ve become a fan of it.  BLOOD STORM has just come out, and it includes a “Story So Far” section of its own.  If you missed IRON AXE, don’t be shy!  Jump right in–we’ll make sure you understand everything you need to know.  Though of course you can buy both.  They’re perfect for all your gift-giving needs.

–Steven Harper Piziks

DANNY on sale now at Book View Cafe.

Danny Large



Writing Nowadays: The Story So Far — 1 Comment

  1. I’ve come to the conclusion that, if the narrative voice is entertaining enough, a writer can get away with anything. (Of course, definitions of ‘entertaining’ vary as much as writers do. But humor goes a long, long way. Terry Pratchett was proof of that!)