How to begin a sequel?

Terry Pratchett’s introductory descriptions of discworld

  • 1 Shenzhen University, Nanhai Ave 3688, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518060, Shenzhen, China
Péter Hajdu


Beginnings of fictional narratives apply various strategies to introduce their readers to the represented world, and even if they select a starting point in the flow of events as definitive, they tend to tell something about how the starting situation has been constituted by earlier events and circumstances. Some literary genres represent fictional worlds so different from the readers’ that a general description of the former is also needed in the beginning. A sequel may seem free of the burden of a descriptive introductory beginning, since readers (if they have read the previous work or works) have sufficient information to be able to cope with in medias res beginning. However, long series of many sequels have to be accessible for new readers as well, therefore they offer introductions for a double audience. The paper analyses several beginnings from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I show how the early novels use the description of the Discworld as a formal feature to begin the narrative; those descriptions fulfil the double purpose of introducing new readers and entertaining the trained ones by new ways of elaboration and adding some new traits.

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A peer-reviewed journal of international scope, Frontiers of Narrative Studies features articles reporting results of research in all branches of narrative studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. Its broad range of scholarship includes narratives across a variety of media, including literary writing, film and television, journalism, and graphic narratives.