If you’re reading this, then you’re probably aware that I’m responsible for the creation of a series about Genetically Modified Species, specifically, a story about 15 genetically engineered and weaponized children.
What you may not know, is that at the time of my writing this post, I have just condensed what was supposed to be 180,000 plus words of the two middle books of a quadrology, into one, 93,000 word adventure.
Before I ever found a publisher, I penned out an entire arching storyline, and it was a confusing and jumbled, overly technical mess.
And I’m glad I did it.
What I’m also glad about? I was able to let it go.
Don’t start singing just yet.
I’d already learned to do some self-editing by the time Thurston Howl Publications signed the first book. I’d reduced the number of Genmos by 2, dropped some blurbs and cut out entire chapters that didn’t enhance characters or advance the plot.
Upon reading my submission, an in-house editor made some very useful comments, some of which had a dramatic influence upon the first book, and made massive changes to the series as a whole. For example, I dropped a few characters who weren’t vital to the story, changed a few superpowers around, and also CHANGED THE ENTIRE SERIES VOICE FROM 1ST TO 3RD PERSON!
What this meant, was that I had to, and still have to do for the third book, is rewrite the remaining books. Now, while that means going over my works AGAIN… IT IS NOT A BAD THING!
Because I had already penned the other books, but they weren’t set in stone, I was able to adapt, but the BIGGEST advantage to having already penned the trilogy, is that I could add foreshadowing to my rewrites. I could hint at characters to come, or foreboding. Any changes I had made when I penned the original series could be enhanced. For instance, I had characters introduced in the third and fourth novel, who I could now hint, mention, or even feature them in radio conversations or photographs much earlier.
Having completed the trilogy also let me keep characters. One of the in-house editors had suggested dropping someone who was too sympathetic as a villain, but once they saw the plot-outline for the series, they agreed to keep them.
Lastly, having finished the series really let me cut out the fluff during rewrites. If an ending was too abrupt or a plot hole too open, it was easy to see and correct.
Now, I’ve heard some authors say that you shouldn’t write a series until the first book has been published. My answer to that: Do what works for you. If having the series completed will help you, then write it all up. Just, don’t make it stuck in stone. With a little extra help, you’ll be surprised what can be done.