Structure Within Structure

Structure within structure. Simple.

So then, why is it that sometimes I have to have an out-of-body experience and slap myself to remember what I already know?

Courtesy: Pixabay

It began a couple of years ago when faced with developing Riparia’s Bk4. I had pieces, but my destination was distant landmarks, the path I needed to follow obscured.

Rediscovering my path required the events that triggered the slap.

In retrospect, what triggered the issue was setting a limit on the series (that isn’t to say Carrdia stories will end).

Five books. That was the limit.

Okay, I’ve been kinda sorta cheating with periphery novels that influence the core series. Still, the novels with Riparia in them was set at five, no more.

Bk1, Trust in the Forgotten, I’m again editing. It’s always required more work given it was written when I was struggling to learn Deep 3rd Voice. Too, the overall series was but a glimmer in my eye back in 2016 when I drafted it.

In other words, there’s been a lot of fixing, enhancing based on updated worldbuilding, and adding foreshadowing (an advantage of having the series whole before publishing).

Late the same year, I drafted Bk2, A River in Each Hand. I was one my way, the series coming into focus. I wrote a prequel, other periphery novels, and drafted the third novel, So Others Might Remember.

Then, I set my limit.

Pressure. Christina freaking out a bit. I wanted to restrict the series so it wouldn’t go on forever and don’t regret the decision. Still, it scattered my intentions.

I turned to Pannulus stories, all the while planning to draft Bk4 in 2020. A new Pannulus idea (Talma Loyal) kept it from happening.

Uh-oh. Was I distracting myself from doing what I needed to do?

Kind of, but not entirely. Writing all those novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories increased my skills. By the time I drafted a quasi-sequel to one of my Pannulus novels last November, I realized my hesitations with Riparia’s Bk4 were unfounded.

Riparia at Lake Seclusion.
Riparia at Lake Seclusion.

Another step was returning to editing Truth in the Forgotten in January. The long break had worked. The flood gate of additional ideas had opened.

I realized another truth, too.

Riparia’s series isn’t true epic fantasy, but it is epic in its scale. When I drafted Bk3 I scared myself. I loved the novel, but feared the series was about to get away from me. The novels are long, each longer, but all reasonable for fantasy (130-150K at present). I was terrified, though, that to finish the series would require novels twice that length.

In an ironic twist, when I turned to the Pannulus stories it was with the vow to limit their length. With that mindset in place, I did exactly that, thereby learning a valuable skill.

Thus, when I returned to Riparia this year I had lots of new ideas and knew better how to contain a story. Those new ideas weren’t the path, though. They were more like more landmarks on the horizon. Limiting a story wasn’t the path, either, but it increased my awareness.

The path came when I remembered something so simple that, yes, it was worthy of a slap.

Structure within structure.

What I mean, and you’ve probably read about before, is story structure. Each novel is built upon plot points and so on. I most closely follow the Heroine’s Journey, but, in general, there’s a similarity to them all.

That applies to every story. It also applies to a series.

Mazatta. Courtesy: Pixabay

It returned to me while editing Trust in the Forgotten (yes, the title is ironic in this context). Bk1 has its own opening, inciting incident, and so on, but the novel also represents the series’ opening and inciting incident.

Likewise, A River in Each Hand represents the events around the First Plot Point. So Others Might Remember carries the series through the Midpoint with events that literally change everything.

Bk4, Aramon Daughters, then chronicles the story up to the 3rd Plot Point. Of course, it has its own plot points throughout.

Not only has the path appeared, but so too have more landmarks along the way. Even Bk5 is more clear, a lot more clear!

All this will help when I edit Bk3 for the first time, especially the end. Even when I was drafting it I knew the end would have to be changed. Unfortunately, that initiated the panic that’ll never happen again.

In fact, this clarity is reverberating through all the Carrdia books. I’d known that one of the periphery novels, Following the Essence Stone had problems. It was solving the series’ problem that helped point the way to fixing Essence Stone.

Basically, my irrational panic over Bk4 was gumming up the works.

No more.

Aramon Daughters will be its own novel, containing its fair share of happy events. It’ll also take the series into the Dark Night of the Soul. Yeah, later this year it’ll be time for me to pull on my big girl panties and face what awaits.

It’s okay. I believe in my characters, and none more so than Riparia.


About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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