Last weekend I finished the initial edit on Riparia’s Bk4 (#3 is a prequel that she’s barely in). Simultaneously, I completed the revision map that will kickstart my next editing pass when I return to Bk4 in the future. Book Four. It’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around that sometimes.
That’s good. It means another milestone is prompting me to reflect on where I am in the series and as a writer. This post is some of those musings so it’s probably going to be a bit unstructured…
There is an oft quoted Toni Morrison adage: If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. I believe that with all my heart. After I returned to writing after a long illness this quote helped turn around my approach to writing and led to overhauling my fantasy world starting in 2015.
I was determined to not only write the book I wanted to read, but to place it in the world of my choosing.
It was more than that, though. I’m someone who seeks out mixed genre books. The problem was, for most of my life I was frustrated in my efforts to find the books in the gray areas. Shrugging off the epic fantasy that wasn’t a good fit, I dove into other world fantasy tales with romance, suspense, and magic. They were tales not afraid to address social issues.
With each book (there are three others outside Riparia’s tales) I wonder if this will be the one when I run dry and the ideas cease to surface. It’s amazing to me that hasn’t happened. I’ve always followed Ray Bradbury’s advice to not hold anything back. In other words, don’t have an idea surface and save it for a future book. Pack everything in and have faith that your imagination will come up with more. Thus far, his advice has served me well.
Some might wonder how a character can arc over multiple books. For one, we all have a lot of growing we need to do to become the best version of ourselves. Riparia is no different. She’s saddled with a lot of baggage when the first book opens.
The other side of the arc question is that each book presents new challenges she must grow to meet. She also discovers more about herself and her murky past as time passes. I’m a positive arc person and she’s a reflection of my attitude. That’s another element of the books I must write.
Now I’m back in Bk1, the only one that’s been edited more than once. I’m agonizing over word choice and adding details I no longer have to worry will be cut during editing. Drafting is about a sprinting imagination racing to fill pages, but editing is a more considerate approach.
Each time I draft it makes me a better storyteller. Each time I edit it makes me a better writer. Just as Riparia finds a way to arc with each book, so do I. One advantage to drafting multiple books in a series before publishing any of them is I can go back and add foreshadowing long before the event. I can also add better writing.