Writing–Do As I Say, Not As I Do

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.



9 thoughts on “Writing–Do As I Say, Not As I Do

  1. What a great post – I enjoy learning your process and how you’re tackling the process of editing, Judith. It’s also good to see that you keep trying new things. I guess that’s what I’m doing, only using the same novel. Each time I go through my manuscript, I edit with something new in mind. This time through, I’m tackling my voice – a huge task, really, but I think I got a bit too “Irishy” and it’s distracting!
    Ah well, what’s life if it’s not challenging!
    My best to you for the holidays-


  2. Yes, I agree. Building strong characters is the key, characters that the reader should love or hate. To be honest, I mostly doubt I’ll ever be able to crate a really believable character, but I keep on trying, write and delete, write and delete :).


    1. You’ll get there. Sometimes, when I hit a snag, I just keep writing and write past it, and then–pages later–I can see the fix for the “bump” that slowed me down. Not sure if that would work for you, but it helps me sometimes.


      1. I always pay attention to your advice 🙂 I wish you happy Holidays and a lovely New Year filled with astonishing, breathtaking new experiences…Kisses magical Judith :).


  3. The astrologer I read says that 2013 is supposed to a happy year for almost every sign. Hope he’s right. Maybe you’ll finish your book in 2013!?! That would be wonderful! But whatever happens, I hope 2013 is a magical year for you.


  4. I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award because your blog has inspired me. Thank you! 🙂 Check back at my blog for a badge if you would like to accept. If not, I completely understand that some people have already gotten this and some are just too busy. Thank you for inspiring me anyway!


    1. Thanks so much for thinking of me and nominating my blog. I’m going to pass on the badge, but I sure appreciate the thought. It’s nice to have a “family” of bloggers. Have a great 2013 and I hope, this time, you finish your book!


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