So someone cornered me the other day w/a comment about how bringing old characters from previous books into a new story farther into the series timeline is “lazy writing.” It “takes up word count” and “doesn’t add anything new.” Now I posted that little reality on facebook and had several interesting replies, mostly about enriching the depth of the world-building, and how nice it was to see “where they’re at now.” One person stated she looks for series for that reason – that she can stay with the same characters and watch them grow and develop over time.
My points exactly.
Now, I’ve done snippets from Duality as memories, mentioned in Hedda’s Sword (Cianan), Lycan Tides (Trystan) and Dust of Dreams (Benilo). But because each man was in a different place and played a different role in the battle and the aftermath, their memories were different, and they were affected differently. What came before affects how they react to the current situation they found themselves in when their own stories came around. Cianan was a paladin, a priest-warrior, who dealt w/the exorcisms, Trystan was a warrior and Benilo was a healer in the aftermath. But Duality started them all.
People have pasts. The best characters do, too. In my current WIP, Riever’s Heart, children are starting to play a role in their lives, healing old wounds…and creating new ones.
I’m starting to consider where to take my series next. Recurring characters, getting everyone settled and at peace over a six-book series. Then launching a new spin-off series, maybe “Children of the Guardians.” My son suggested “Guardians: The Next Generation” but the ST fan in me couldn’t quite go there! But time goes on, and so new characters must grow and emerge from the shelter of the old ones.
There’s Ioain and Braeca from Lycan Tides, Finora’s children. Ioain can see the truth of a person, both their heart and their being. Braeca inherited her mother’s ability to predict storms. Dara and Loren have a daughter, Elyria, who’s already showing signs of being a fiery independent handful. Wolf and Tzigana have twins, a boy and a girl. Their son Antal is a warrior-prince. Their daughter Piroska is fated to be the most powerful witch in ten generations. Tzigana’s little sister Jana will have to decide whether or not she wants to become a priestess of Orthia (she’d need to be merged w/a tree sprite, sacrificing her freedom for all time, to gain that power).
And what of Mog, the young goblin shaman in Dust of Dreams?
In Riever’s Heart, Prince Aryk wants peaceful relations with his neighbors. Shamar in his nearest neighbor, but he’s haunted by recurring visions of his son Joro being slain by a woman – Piroska. Which seriously strains relations between him and Wolf and Tzigana. Each trying to protect their child from the other’s…
Recurring characters allow for depth and growth over time. It’s not lazy writing, because you’re not rehashing the same old information. As long as it changes and evolves and matures, just like real people over real time, it can add an anchor or realism and plausibility and new complications and bonds. New dimensions. Added depth.
Obviously, some people disagreed with that assessment. But others embrace it. Guess there’s room for all. Would love to hear people’s thoughts on the subject!