This is supposed to be an update on the progress of the new book, Well of Sorrows
, so the numbers are at the end. But I found myself thinking about something today while writing and I thought it interesting enough to share, sort of as a writing tip.
Every book is different.
What I mean by this is that so far I've written *mumble mumble* many books. *grin* No, no. I've written . . . six complete novels and I'm on my seventh. And what struck me today is that each and every book was different experience for me as a writer. None of them were the same, none of them were easy, but they were all hard in different ways. So I thought I'd talk about HOW they were all different, in the hopes that everyone out there will realize that every book is a struggle and that even after you're published, it doesn't get easier.
My first book, Sorrow
(unpublished), was hard simply because I was teaching myself how to write. I mean, teaching myself the basics. Think basic. Now think more basic than that. I mean BASIC
. Yeah, that basic. But I had fun while writing it. If I hadn't been having fun then it would never have gotten finished. And at the time I was writing it, I thought it ROCKED! I tortured my best friend with this novel, and when I finished, I went back and reread it and decided it sucked and I could do better. So I wrote it over again. And again and again and again. And my best friend read every single version
. THAT is the sign of a true best friend. Thanks comixboy
. He still reads everything I write. So that first book was hard because I didn't have a clue what I was doing and it was a huge learning process. I probably wrote my proverbial "million words of crap" during that book alone.
The second book, Eventide
(unpublished), was a sequel to Sorrow and in this book I learned that having a ton of characters who suddenly aren't all in the same group and are having their own individual adventures SUCKS. For this book, I struggled with holding a thousand threads between two fingers. I count this as a finished novel, even though it didn't really end. For this book, I just had too much going on all at once and I learned that not every character needs or even deserves to have front time. You have to pick and choose which characters to follow, and even though you KNOW what happens to some of the side characters, that little adventure just isn't important enough to include in the book. Very hard lesson to learn, because all of those little adventures were interesting to ME.
I also learned that you should never write a sequel until the first book in the series sells. It's just not worth the time, when you could be writing something else that might sell. Oh well.
The third book, Fever
(unpublished), gave me problems for a completely different reason. I knew how to write well by this point, and I'd learned my lesson well in the second book and decided I didn't need a cast of thousands for this book. I had one main character, everyone else was secondary. So what was the problem? I decided it needed to be written in first person. And it DID need to be written in first person. But I'd never written in first person, and so I struggled through a good chunk of the book learning how to do that. I think this was valuable time spent well though. Because it helped tremendously while writing . . .
The fourth book, The Skewed Throne
. First person narrative in a dark and gritty fantasy setting. All of the previous books led up to this I think. But Skewed Throne still wasn't easy to write, mainly because in order for the book to work I had to be evil. You all laugh, but I mean that. I'm not a wicked person. I don't like anything that violent, don't like slums, and can't imagine myself killing anyone. And yet . . . and yet . . . in order for the book to work I had to BECOME all of that. Maybe that's actually WHY the book worked, because I'd learned that it wasn't enough to just sit down and write what came to mind. You had to BECOME it for it to come alive. And in Skewed throne, I did that. I asked myself the hard question (what would it take for me to kill?) and pushed myself to write some hardcore scenes. Violence, death, emotionally traumatic scenes. I pretty much pushed myself in every possible direction I could think of at the time. And it must have worked because that's the book that caught attention and got published first. It snagged me a three book deal.
Easy sailing, right? All I had to do was write two more books!
The fifth book, The Cracked Throne
, was immediately a challenge simply because of pressure. The first would be out shortly and now I had to produce something equally as good. It was under contract and *gasp* under DEADLINE. I'd written Skewed Throne at odd moments over the course of 2 years basically (mostly during the summers, in between semesters of grad work). I no longer had the luxury of time. But . . . the book surprised me. It actually WAS easy to write. Oh, don't get me wrong, getting myself to sit down and churn it out was still hard, but I didn't flail around trying to figure out what it was about or where it was going or anything like what I'd done on all of the previous books. This book just . . . clicked. Everything fell into place. Every plotline, every character arch . . . everything. It couldn't have gone better if I'd planned it. At this point, I figured I'd learned it all, that from now on all of the books would just fall into place like well-trained minions and it would be smooth sailing from here on out.
The sixth book, The Vacant Throne
, immediately began kicking my ass. Let's call this the slayed beast rearing its ugly head syndrome. The first problem was that I suddenly realized I had WAY TOO MANY CHARACTERS! I obviously did not kill off enough characters at the end of the second book. So I'd fallen back into the same problem as the second book I'd written . . . but this time I had more experience under my belt, so I figured out how to handle that. Some characters just didn't get the page time that they may have otherwise been given, in a world where editors don't care about page counts and profit lines and things like that. *grin* This wasn't that big of a problem at all, because of past experience actually. But it was a sign of things to come. Because this book began being a problem child in a different way: it didn't like it's prescribed ending. I struggled in this book because I kept trying to push it toward the ending I thought it was supposed to have, and it took me half the book to figure out that it actually had a different ending. Then it took some time for me to give up on the original ending and just let myself accept the new ending. Needless to say, this book did NOT click into place seamlessly. I think it took so long for me to "give up" on the original ending because I was under contract, and a deadline. Why risk experimenting with some unknown ending when I had to get the sucker done? But I did give up and so far the reviews on the book are good.
So what's up with the seventh book, you ask? How is the seventh book different? Well, first off, I went back to third person. And getting out of the first person groove after writing four novels in that POV . . . is hard. I think I'm out of that mentality, finally. But the book is still difficult. This time, the book just doesn't seem to want to end. In all of my previous books, especially the published ones, the plot was always rather well contained. Meaning it didn't go off in random directions and ask me questions along the way. Thought provoking questions. The other books ranged a little bit, but they always returned to the main plot thread/idea in the long run. This book . . . is free ranging all over hell and back. And after struggling against this initially, I finally broke down and have just let it run. It's a first draft, and when it's done, I'll have to come back and do some major, major rewriting. Trim all of the fat, so to speak. I've never written a book like this. I know writers that do (scbutler
springs to mind) and it's certainly been an interesting experience. I've reached the point in the novel now where I know there IS a novel here, a good one I think. I just have to get it finished and start the chainsaw.
So, moral of the story? I don't know. But thinking back on each of my published novels in particular, I see four completely different experiences while writing the books. One clicked and just came together, as if written on its own. One rebelled and chose its own endings. One was just alot of hard work, but linear work. And the current one . . . well, it's a little gangly and overgrown for its own good. Each different. But each one fun in the end. If they weren't fun (with their own heartaches along the way), I wouldn't be doing this. It's too much work otherwise.
In any case, here's the wordage for the work in progress. I finished chapters 15 and 16 recently (I forgot to report when I finished 15). So:
Words for Well of Sorrows
Words over budget: 25,500.
Worries: None. It will work out in the end.