Editing a Series: Using Last Books to Edit the First

There are serious advantages to drafting an entire series before editing (if possible), not the least of which is, quite frankly, time. Time for the writer to gain skills. Time for the world to evolve. Time for characters to grow. Time for time to answer questions you didn’t know needed asking.

Kovenlore Chronicles Series

All 7 novels (and a novella, Trellis House) shown as they’d fall in the novel structure I use. Thus, for instance, the midpoint in Book-4 is also the midpoint for the series. Diagram: CA Hawthorne

Thus, when it’s all said and done, later drafts help mend and enhance the earlier ones. For me, the time period is simple. Trust in the Forgotten was drafted in March 2016, Wrath of Purpose in December 2021.

This post is about editing, but I will briefly mention facts that were also influencers.

One is the drastic improvement in my health. It was poor when drafting Book-1 and a dumpster fire when drafting Book-2, which was so bad I rewrote it.

The other was capping the series in July 2019, which altered my approach. All at once I had one big story of almost a million words — sort of.  The seven novels stand on their own, witnessed by the fact each has a different primary antagonist.


Despite my earlier writing, it wasn’t until 2014 that I seriously studied craft. I didn’t write my first short stories until late 2015.

My renaissance came in 2017 when I “got my air back” and shed my occasional oxygen deprivation. Since, I’ve drafted novelettes and novellas. The more intimate Pannulus stories also influenced the series. In 2018 I started my writing journal.

When writing the first two novels I was still struggling with Deep 3rd POV. In contrast, the last two books were drafted without those issues.

Evolving World Vision

My approach to worldbuilding is to create the basics and expand as needed. As sick as I was when drafting Book-2, A River in Each Hand, it conjured countless new worldbuilding from what was my first ever sequel.

*I don’t count my 2000 series because those weren’t standalone books.

As mentioned, capping the series halfway through set the tone for each book. Book-1, then, became the inciting incident, Book-2 the first plot point. That new perspective made a difference. The original cap was five books, but then I incorporated the prequel and Kasaria’s novel into the series. Ironically, that didn’t change the position for the original five.

All I’ve mentioned, though, did lead to continuity edits last year.

Evolving Characters

This would be easier if citing character changes weren’t spoilers.

I won’t remark on Riparia’s ultimate fate, but it was imperative she remain dynamic or the series was doomed. I don’t mean doing stuff, but instead change, though not always growth. That meant, quite often, going back to lay groundwork, and not always foreshadowing.

For instance, one character slated to die instead took a different course later. That meant returning to the beginning to tweak actions.


First and foremost, this is about getting to know someone while they live their life. I’ve spent over six years with Riparia. She had to get from A to Z, but when I sat down to write Book-1 I knew little beyond A. I wasn’t even certain a sequel would happen.

I’ve lived years of her life and expanded her backstory, twists and turns included. She’s vivid in Book-6 and less distinct in Book-1.

Trust in the Forgotten mood board where associated pictures are linked because they overlap. Note: Doppla the horse.

Trust in the Forgotten mood board. Note: Doppla the horse. Mood board: CA Hawthorne

For instance, early in Trust in the Forgotten she attends a meeting where she should be awkward and nervous. Instead, in the original draft, she all but takes control. Possessing an avid interest in female historical figures, she barely reacts to mention of Queen Vernathia.

Also in Book1, she’s an avid reader, yet never has a book. She suffers from anxiety, yet it was understated until Book4.

Part of my advantage is seeing the book with fresh eyes because I’ve other books to work on in-between. Another aspect, though, is seeing books with comparative eyes and noting inconsistencies.

The book that best illuminates Riparia for me as a writer is Book-6, Aramon Daughters. You learn a lot about a person when you see them at their worst.

Ironically, I hadn’t envisioned that novel in the beginning. It wasn’t until I capped the series after Book-4 and structured it that I realized a novel would span the third plot point, or dark night of the soul. That demanded a grim tale for Book-6.

Book-4, which laid Riparia’s past bare, pointed to where I needed to go in Book-6. Structure, though, set the tone. In turn, the least anticipated book told me the most about Riparia’s human essence. That’s how it became my best guide.

More than anything, this is all testimony to the value of editing and how it pays you back. None of what I’ve discussed has anything to do with line editing. All this goes far deeper than that.


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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