When I began writing Fantastic America the first time, it wasn’t the novel I have now. My vision didn’t include a national news celebrity, a dogged federal agent, or a maniac magical serial killer. All of those characters grew out of the same ‘what if’ question, how would people react? Originally I had a first book of six main characters that don’t even appear in the novel now. Those characters are waiting for their time on stage starting with Midwestern Magicians. Even those books could change as I write them.
The great thing about telling (or showing) stories is that they can build on themselves. As an author I had to reevaluate the amount of material I had written. The rough draft was too long compared to commercial fiction guidelines (once I knew that was a thing). I had to break that embryonic book into two, then four and now at least six books. As the characters grew more unique so did what they needed to say to leave their stamp on the series.
I’ve agonized over who should appear in which book. Knowing which POV to show the scenes through can be difficult. Including the right amount of each unique voice in each book is taxing beyond the words on the page. I didn’t know I needed any of that when I started my writer’s journey. I’ve had to learn (and keep learning) craft and commitment to the work. Take writing one day at a time, one page at a time.
Nothing is set in stone. I’ve had to kill my darlings to advance the plot. I’ve left out some details, and added in more emotional attributes for my audience. Some material changed the tone of a scene or chapter, even the whole book from some perspectives. So the audience has the best experience they can while getting my story on the page. Anything else is trivial and subject to a red pen stroke.