Story telling can take on a life of its own. Halfway through writing the series there was a question that needed to be answered. This meant putting the pen down, saving the draft, and taking a journey into the past. It is a difficult task keeping the backstory out of a series. Yet the background demanded a novella. A few short sentences that held the scene needed to be told. Yes, I begin with writing a sentence for each story. A small idea swirling outward from a story, to a chapter, and finally down to a scene. Except for one thing, when the idea has had so much time, and so much thought one sentence is enough.
Backwards to go Forwards
At no stage had the thought entered my head. The backstory would be enough to hold the span of a novel. Even a novella was stretching the idea. Yet in the distant past of a series a chain of events impacted on the main story. The series was packed away. Expectations began to unravel with a few differences. The protagonist was not the same, and neither were the main obstacles. In the midst of the story details began rising to the surface. These linked the past to the main story. A complex set of events spanning across time began to reveal with a few small twists.
Was it worth going back in order to go forward? The short answer is yes. For a series with a plot embedded in a sequence of events it helped to keep focus on the main obstacles. There was one unforeseen downside, having to start a story from scratch. If you are anticipating being able to dive in to a backstory at the same pace allow more time. The biggest drawback was re-building the old world. Where changes meant having to rethink how the landscape had been altered. Alliances, communities, and the immediate problems had changed. Amidst all this a past revealed itself taking the form of a novella.