Revision surprises

A few months ago I posted a bit about story as ouroboros worm – that is, as you’re writing, what you write at the beginning informs what you write at the end, which informs how you should revise the beginning. I was writing it in the context of a single novel, but it’s true also about the longer story arc of a series, I’ve found; which is the reason I plot out a series in full before I call the first novel done.

Seeing how a story grows and unfurls and chooses its own path as it goes is always fascinating to me, no matter how many times I’ve plotstormed something. Where I think a story is going is very rarely where it actually ends up. (Another reason to want to have the series worked out in full early in the process.)

This is certainly the case with the full Secrets arc. I just wrapped up the first drafts of the synopses for the sequels, and was surprised where the story took me. First of all, I’d been thinking it might only be two books, not the three it became. I’d also been thinking the antagonist of book one would be taken care of in the climax of two and the conflict of three would involve a different antagonist pulled from the cast of earlier in the story. But the original antagonist had more staying power than I gave him credit for. A major event that I thought would spin off the whole conflict of book three didn’t actually end up happening till the end of three and didn’t have the repercussions I expected.

Knowing how the story plays out now, I’m returning to revisions of book one and realizing there’s going to need to be a lot more work than I’d originally been thinking. It’s kind of like doing a house update where you thought you were just going to move a wall and install a new light fixture only to find the floor needs reinforcing and the electrical is three decades out of date. But that’s how it goes, in both renos and writing. Both projects will be the better for having done the extra work.

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