The Writing Sparrow Episode 38 | My Experience of Writing My Whole Trilogy Before the First Edit

In this week’s episode, I talk about my experience of writing all three books of my Blood Wisp trilogy before I started editing the first book. I talk about what the benefits and downsides are for me to help you decide whether this might be a good approach for you.

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[The Writing Sparrow theme]

Sarina: Hello, and welcome to The Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer and this podcast is all about writing, publishing, and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at Let’s get started.

Good morning, friends and sparrows, and welcome back. This is the 31st of May 2021. This is Episode 38. Today, I’m talking about my experience of writing my current trilogy, that’s the Blood Wisp trilogy, before I start editing any of it.

A few weeks ago, let me just find the date for you. I have already had a chat about this with Noelle Riches, that was on January 25th if any of you would like to have a look at that, or listen as it were. [00:01:00]. We talked about the benefits of plotting your whole trilogy before you write it. This is similar because I have now written my whole trilogy before I start editing. And oof, it’s been interesting, let me tell you. I think I probably start with the cons so that we can end on a more positive note.

Con number one. This probably goes without saying, but it’s taken a really long time to do. I think I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but I’ve had the covers done, completely finished, ready to go for just over two years. [chuckles] So, yeah, when I say a long time, it really has taken a while. This was made a lot harder by the fact that [00:02:00] these three books have kind of started off as novellas rather than full-length novels, so I had to go in and basically readjust and restructure everything because one of my critique partners, [unintelligible [00:02:16], has very helpfully pointed out that they didn’t really work as individual novellas, they read more as one book. And she was completely right. Yeah, they needed a big restructure for one.

I want to stress here that not every book you write will need quite so much rewriting. This really has been a special case, I think. Either way, it has taken quite a long time because, of course, in this case, I didn’t write just one book, I wrote three. So, of course, it took three times as long. Yeah, I love my characters so much and I love the world for this, and I love the lore, [00:03:00] and I love that it’s kind of a sequel to my Relics of Ar’Zac trilogy, and I love that I got to explore more of that world, but I’m also kind of really sick of it now. [laughs] This probably makes me a terrible book parent, but there we are. No, I love them, but I’ve spent so much time with everything that I think I’m due a break from it and I really, really want to break from it now. That’s definitely something to consider. If you think that you might like to try this, you will spend a lot of time with these characters and with that world.

Con number two. I’m now editing the first book in this trilogy. Let me tell you, it feels really weird to go back to the very beginning, when I’ve only just written the very end. All characters, I think, should genuinely go through some kind of development. Of course, by the end of trilogy, there’s been an awful [00:04:00] lot of that. The character that I have just finished writing is basically a completely different person to the main character at the beginning of the trilogy. It feels really strange now, I think, for me to go back and see her at what’s essentially her worst before she’s done any of that developing, when I’ve just come from her living her best life, being her best health at the very end of the trilogy.

It’s a little bit odd now to go in and add new chapters of someone who’s effectively a completely different character. It’s doable. I’m certainly managing, but, yeah, it’s interesting. It doesn’t quite feel natural to go back to that state of her. Yeah, to come back to just calling it again interesting, I think that’s the only way I can describe it. [chuckles] [00:05:00] It’s interesting. It’s doable, but, yeah, that’s something to consider as well, if you think that you might want to approach the next series this way, it’s interesting if I haven’t said this already. To come back to your main character at the very beginning of the journey when you’ve just written them at the very end, because of all the development, but let’s move on.

Con number three. I can’t see this working for anything that’s longer than a trilogy. I think Noelle Riches and I had talked about this a little bit because, well, obviously, there’s an awful lot of work that goes into it and sooner or later, you presumably actually want to publish what you’ve written, I’m guessing, this is why we’re all here, right? I’m considering writing maybe a five-book trilogy, or maybe even something longer than that, and I’ve just done an interview [00:06:00] with– bear with me, my memory is clearly terrible, with author, Sharon Turner, about both writing a 10-book series, and I just can’t see this approach working for anything that long.

As I’ve said, I’ve already been on this trilogy for such a long time, I’m kind of tired of my characters now. I really want to move on to something else. The idea of spending maybe 10 times as long or 5 times as long on something that you would normally only spend– I don’t know. It depends so much on how fast you write and how fast you edit, but you need to multiply that by however many books you think you will have in the series. It could potentially take for a 10-book series, I don’t know, maybe a decade? [chuckles] Not to be a downer on this fine morning but, yeah, that’s something to consider.

Again, eventually, you might actually want to publish what you’ve written, [00:07:00] your readers probably eventually want to read what you’ve done next. It would be a lot of work to do this for anything longer than a trilogy. It was already an awful lot of work, just for this trilogy. So, yeah, do think about that before you head in. And if you do start, and you realize that it’s too much in one go before you start editing and publishing, there is nothing wrong with stopping and just doing what you would normally do, and edit right away, and then publish after obviously, beta readers and critique partners and editing and all that, but writing the whole series before you edit anything is one approach, but it’s definitely not the right approach or anything. To be honest with you, I’m not sure if I will do it again, just because it’s taken so damn long, and because I have got a little bit tired now of my characters [00:08:00] in my world. They are great, it’s a lot of time with the same people. I can’t stress that enough. If you like variety, this may not be the approach for you.

Let’s talk about the benefits because it has more than downsides.

Pro number one. Writing the whole trilogy before I start editing has allowed me to make changes to the first books, because I hadn’t published anything yet. This for me is the really, really big plus. There were a few things that came up while I was writing book three, that I thought, “Oh, this could be really great if I did it for all the series,” but I hadn’t thought of them until I started writing book three. If at this point, if I had already published book one and book two, I might never have been able to add those things into the earlier books. But now, I can easily go back in because I’m still editing them and I can easily add those bits. [00:09:00] I think the whole plot is going to read much more smoothly because of it, so that’s a really big plus for me to be honest.

Same with the foreshadowing, there were a few things that have come up now when the second book or the third book that I hadn’t originally planned. Those little bits that come up as you’re writing the things that you couldn’t have planned, the things that your characters throw at you that you never even thought of. I can now foreshadow those, and I can do just a little bit of extra with that in the first book or the second book. Yeah, that’s a really big benefit for me, because everything later on will just read like I’ve always planned it this way, even though we of course know that I didn’t, because I’ve just spoiled it. That’s been a really big plus for me. I do think that that alone honestly makes it worth considering trying at least once because as I said, it just it allows you to [00:10:00] add things into the first book and the second book that otherwise you might have had to miss out on.

Pro number two, and I’m afraid that’s it. I had three cons, only two pros, but I do think the pros are quite big points. Yeah, pro number two, while the initial wait for any of the books to come out is, of course, a lot longer, my readers also won’t have to wait as long between books. Normally, you might publish book one, and then you start writing book two, and then you have to go through all the editing and all that setup. You can easily have a year or longer this way between books, but this way, because I’ve already written them and just [ahem-ahem] need to edit them, like there was any such thing as just editing, [chuckles] it means that I can get them out much faster. This will also allow me to do rapid releases, which I’ve heard so much about, so many good things, and I’m excited to see what kind of effect [00:11:00] that will have on my books.

But yeah, again, the initial wait is longer. That’s not just for your readers, that’s also for you because, of course, even though you are working on the books is– well, it’s work that you have to put into the books. You’re not as likely to take a break maybe between books, because you’re– or at least I was very aware that I was still working on the first draft. For me, that was certainly, well, the pressure on me, I think, to complete the first draft, so that I could then get to editing, so that I could then get them out. I don’t have that anywhere near as bad when I write, edit, and publish, and then again, write, edit and publish yada, yada.

I think while this has been a positive point in many aspects, it’s certainly also maybe a negative point that you need to think about, but that comes back [00:12:00] to what I said earlier about just how much longer everything takes.

Yeah, this has been my experience writing Blood Wisp, 1, 2, and 3, before I really started editing. To summarize, the cons are that it takes an awfully long time. You might get tired of your characters after a little while, but you might then also feel pressure to stick with it, because you’ve already been working on it for so long. Your readers might eventually say, “Why haven’t you published it yet? I really want the new book out. Why isn’t it out yet?” Well, also, yay, if that’s the case, your readers want the next book, that’s a great thing.

It feels really weird to go back to the very beginning when you’ve just written the very end, because your characters have done an awful lot of developing and growing. You will then need to go back to your characters before they’ve done any of that, which basically makes them completely different characters. [00:13:00] I think that’s quite a big thing to consider for your rewrites.

I also can’t see this approach working for anything longer than a trilogy. [sighs] It’s barely worked for me for a trilogy, to be honest. It’s really hard to imagine it working for a 5-book series or 10-book series or anything in between or up from there. Obviously, you can outline, and I think I might just stick to doing outlines. Yeah, something to consider.

On the positive side, it allows you to make changes to your first books, because you haven’t published them yet. Even though the initial wait is a lot longer for your readers, they won’t have to wait as long between books, which keeps the hype going, and which will allow you to do rapid releases.

All right, so this has been my experience writing my whole Blood Wisp trilogy before I started [00:14:00] editing. I hope it’s been insightful for you, and not too boring. [chuckles] I’ve been wanting to share this experience with you because it’s been such a different approach, I think, for me at least, of writing anything. I think normally authors will do the normal thing, if I can call it that, where you write a book and then you let it rest for a little bit and then you edit it and then it goes to other people, and then eventually publish it and then you write the next one. This was an approach that I thought was very worth trying. I’m glad that I’ve tried it. If you think that you might like to try it, by all means go right ahead.

I hope this has shed a bit of light on what it’s been like for me. I hope I haven’t put you off [chuckles] but have rather maybe let it consider things that you hadn’t thought of before. All the best of luck to you, because as I said, I’m quite tired of it now and I’m [00:15:00] very, very, very much looking forward to working with different characters in a different setting.

Thank you so much for listening. If you have any more questions at all about this, don’t hesitate to get in touch. My social media handles will follow in just a second. Thank you so much for listening in today. Have a wonderful day and a fantastic week. Happy plotting and writing. Thank you, and bye-bye.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course on my website at Until next time, bye.

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Sarina Langer