The idea for The Dragon Universe began as a single book, and then grew to be too large to be a single book. It will now be a book series. Since the story has five phases, breaking the story into five books seems logical.
While I had experience in technical writing (and was good at it), writing narrative fiction is an intricate and specialized craft. Learning those skills is an ongoing effort. I study writing everyday to improve the quality of my work. The more I learn the better I become, but then the more I realize how much more I need to learn. I am investing 10,000 hours to develop my skills.
I was writing the current draft of what is now the third book when I realized I had to break the story into five books. When I began the fourth phase of the story, I approached it as a separate book that continues the series but stands alone as much as possible. For the fifth phase of the story, I will do the same. When I write the next draft of the entire series, I will rewrite the earlier three phases to be separate books as well.
My goal is to have world and character consistency across all of the books, to have proper foreshadowing of events later in the series, and to ensure I build a story universe and characters that can seamlessly continue into the next five book series that is already forming in my mind.
As an example for why I am writing all of the books before publishing the first, I point to what is happening in the fourth book (working title Buddy Journey). This phase of the story tells the tale of how the two main characters become unified. The Dragon’s change arc is pivotal to the events in this book. Compared to previous drafts, the current draft is more thorough and deeper (in fact, the two chapters I am working on right now were not even in the previous draft). I am learning things about the Dragon that requires me to return to the three previous books and change him to better foreshadow and setup for the events in the fourth book.
James Cameron spoke about the making of the next three Avatar movies (How James Cameron Wrote Three ‘Avatar’ Sequels Simultaneously). He is shooting all three films simultaneously. As part of that process, he said they “worked out every beat of the story across all three films so it all connects as one.” That is my thinking for The Dragon Universe as well. I want the entire series to flow consistently with no continuity errors. When I finish the current draft, I will return to the beginning and incorporate all I have learned about writing and all I have learned about my story, its universe, and its characters, as well as include what is needed to carry the series beyond the first five books and into the next five.
I am excited by what I am writing, but the work is hard.