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When a book series contains the same characters, to what extent is it necessary to re-introduce the main characters to the reader (in case, for example, they haven't read the previous books)?

I've read the entire spectrum of this. From awful, tedious cases where each character is re-introduced in painful detail for the duration of the first chapter, to very little or no introduction at all where I'm left wondering 'who was that again?' because I'd read the previous book in the series 6 months ago. The best ones are in-between, where there is some introduction but it just doesn't feel like it. It's a natural progression of the story.

Are introductions like this always necessary? How do find the right balance for my story?

  • I have a slight introduction of each character if they hadn't played a big role in a few chapters. I just go and say, "and then (insert name of nearly forgotten character here) did this. before (insert MC name here) went on their heroic journey. – Aspen the Artist and Author Dec 6 '17 at 21:22
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If your series is designed so that a new reader could pick up any book, introduce each character as if you were writing the first book in the series.

This does not mean using the same description as in earlier books. Your viewpoint characters have evolved, so their opinions of themselves and each other will have changed. What they notice will have changed. What they care about will have changed. Their history and relationships will have evolved.

So whenever a character who has not yet appeared in this book enters the scene, describe them through the viewpoint character's current perspective. Because the viewpoint character has changed, the description will change.

This does not mean writing boring description. Leave "painful detail" out of later books, just as you would leave it out of earlier books. Make the descriptions of each character interesting, just as you would in earlier books.

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