I’m in the middle of rewrites, with more to go. I wanted to write a novel that focused on escalating battles. With me, the problem is that when I focus on something, it’s possible that I focus too much. When I first started writing (and no one should EVER do this), I concentrated on one thing that I wanted to learn and improve on with each novel I wrote. The first novel was all about plotting. I studied other authors’ novels and graphed peaks and valleys, made notes on when they added subplots and (for mysteries) clues or red herrings–looking for patterns. I still have one of the novels I studied with scribbles on the edges of pages and outlined ideas on the title page.
A small press bought my endeavor and printed it as a sort of short newspaper to sell to people at airports (I still like that idea, but it wouldn’t “fly”–get it?–these days with e-readers. But at that time, people could buy the “newspaper fiction” for reading on their trips). Fun, but when I finally got my copy, the editor had slashed here and there to shorten the novel to fit the format–sometimes making the writing impossible to understand. I wasn’t too thrilled, but I knew nothing about writing or publishing back then, so considered it a learning process. I wouldn’t let that happen again.
My second novel was about pacing–how to keep people turning the pages. In the third, I experimented with POV, etc. (As you can see, I wrote a lot of novels that no one wanted–which was all for the better). I made a habit of writing one step behind trends, so that when I sent a manuscript to editors, they’d say, “We’ve already seen ten zillion of these and never want to see another.” It was a strong point of mine, writing a serial killer novel right after the market was glutted. But eventually, I came closer and closer to getting most things right. Not that I, to this day, have sold a book to a big publisher. But I’ve sure learned a lot. And that’s a big part of why I finally decided to put my books online as e-books, because then I can continue my habit of writing the thing that captures my attention at the wrong time, or my equally enduring habit of never QUITE getting the genre exactly right without crossing genres a bit, so that an editor asks, “How would I market this? It’s not exactly urban fantasy, but it’s not paranormal romance or a mystery either.”
Anyway, in my follow-up novel for Fallen Angels, I decided to write a novel with a lot of battles–because I wanted to learn how to write them better. The result? I didn’t have enough characterization and character conflict to make anyone care if the good guys won or lost. A series of battles does not, in and of itself, a good story make. So lots of rewrites to do? Yes! Is it fun? Only some of it. Lesson learned? Characters are what drive a story. The tension has to come from them. And tension between the main characters is even better–so that there are battles on and OFF the battlefield.
My advice to you? Don’t write like I do. You might learn a lot, but there are easier ways to do it.