For Isaac’s Story: London I decided to have different protagonists in every book. They exist in the same world and they run across some of the same larger-than-life people populated it, but every book will have a different lead character or two. With the series I want to show the evolution of the city and of the world, leading to the big climax in book 5.
I don’t have a problem with a hero sticking around for sequels. Die Hard requires John McClane and wouldn’t make sense without him. Jaws, on the other hand, doesn’t. The hoops they had to jump through to keep a narrative going between those sequels were ridiculous. Why not just have a world where there are large sharks and sometimes they enjoy munching on a bit of human? Because reasons.
I’ve got this other series, Dead Men, which has the same hero in every entry. It’s a serial with a different plot arch in every episode, but every episode is shorter than a book. This might seem like cheating on the premise of this post (as I could just move to a different character for the next season), but I’m going to keep using West as the hero once I’ve finished this season. There will be continuity for her character.
So what’s the difference?
Dead Men stars “Captain” West, a soldier, and a group of other people who are also soldiers. Getting into adventures is what they do, and carrying the same people from book to book makes sense. It isn’t weird when they step from one group of people shooting at them to another, because they get paid to do exactly that.
Isaac’s Story: London is about more normal people, and how they deal with the weirdness and danger of their city. Howard (from The Bridge) is an accountant and Jon (from The Algorithm) is a digital security guy. I can come up with ways Jon could get into another adventure, but beyond that it would be a stretch. Howard getting caught up in something else would be ridiculous.
As the series moves along there will be more action oriented characters with a more appropriate skill set, but even then I don’t see why they would necessarily get into other adventures, and certainly not the larger adventures that are the focus of the novels. They then become secondary characters, dropping in and out as their own lives dictate.
Also, have you seen the latest Die Hard movies? John McClane isn’t relatable anymore. He’s a superhero, shrugging off bullets and dancing on the wing of a fighter jet. What (arguably) made this character so great (the everyman) is gone, replaced by an action hero. And everybody knows it, but we go watch the films anyway because we love what the character used to be.
I could have done that with my series, and there are many better writers who have, but it wouldn’t have made sense to me. These characters don’t want to dodge bullets for a living and as soon as they can they will run the other way. Those that don’t (Kazumi Amaya, Salmon, Angel, Devil) don’t get to be the focus of every big thing that happens in the city, because that wouldn’t make sense. To me, at least.
Isaac’s Story: Hong Kong, coming early next year, will have characters that we stick with between books, because they are the major reason the world is changing. Just like West in Dead Men, they instigate the adventure, bending the world around them. Though that series follows directly from this one it will have a different feel, and carrying the characters from book to book makes sense there.
I’m done babbling; I have stuff to write. West is about to ******* *** a ******* if he doesn’t stop ********* her ***, and I need to get back to it to see what she does next.
Go read a book.