Stories change and grow and evolve over time. It’s one of the things that makes oral storytelling in particular so vibrant, that the core of the story may remain the same but the details and even the style and flow can change to reflect current attitudes and issues.
Prose fiction doesn’t adjust in the same way, of course. After all, once you write it down and especially once you publish it, it’s a fixed form. Unless you plan to emulate Walt Whitman, who continually updated and revised Leaves of Grass, that book is now set, as is the story within it.
But when you’re working on a series, there’s still room to play, to revise, to change course. Sometimes it’s because you realized something partway through, and other times because the world around you has changed—or you have—and you discover that the story you started out to tell isn’t the one you want to tell now.
When Steven Savile and I started Time of the Phoenix, back in 2009, we already knew that it would be a series following the immortal Phoenix, avatar of humanity’s creativity, throughout history. We bounced around ideas about various historical figures, came up with a rough timeline showing who the Phoenix had become and when, and then sketched out a set of five stories from that. We released the first one, “For This Is Hell,” in 2011. We were both happy with that first story, and it did well.