Thursday, December 27, 2012

Constant Improvement

We write books because we have  wealth of stories within us that we need to tell, more than we can ever hope to get down in our lifetime.

We write books because what makes people tick intrigues us and we want to figure it out.

We write books because we want to make sense of the world, even if we set our tales in other worlds.

Once you’re on a regular publishing schedule, though, it’s easy to fall into patterns.  Tell similar stories, because that’s what people responded to the last time out.  Change the names of the characters, change the names of the locations (even if the locations themselves are similar), use a familiar formula.

Genre fiction relies on formula -- it’s part of what makes it comforting.

However, each time we tell a story, we need to challenge ourselves to tell it in a more unique, interesting way than the last time we told a story.  We need to keep looking at the world in new ways.  We need to challenge ourselves, our perceptions, and, especially, our mis-perceptions.

We need to build on the craft of what we do.  “Craft” isn’t silly or boring or something we “don’t have time” to bother with -- solid craftsmanship is what lifts our stories and makes them stand out among the rest.  It’s a way of telling our readers we care about more than their wallets -- we care about giving them a wonderful experience and we care about showing them the world in a way they might not have discovered on their own.  We need to keep trying new techniques.  We need to push our own boundaries of comfort.  We need to choose better language, more vivid imagery, make our characters more complex.

Part of that is by reading.  A lot.  We learn from what we don’t like as much as what we do. 

When I read a book by an author I think is wonderful, I don’t get depressed.  How can wonderful writing be “depressing”?  It’s exhilarating! I don’t think, “oh, I could never achieve this -- why bother?”  I get ENERGIZED.  I’m thrilled when the bar is set higher.  It’s a challenge to go deeper in my own work, and not take the easy way out on anything.

When I read a book and don’t like what the author’s done -- whether the protagonist is an idiot who doesn’t learn from her mistakes, or there are too many copy editing errors in it, or there’s no logic -- I analyze why I had such a strong negative response, and, the next time I work through a revision, I watch for the elements that annoy me in other people’s books.

I want each new story to be an adventure -- both in the writing AND the reading!

May you have a joyful, prosperous, and WELL-WRITTEN 2013!

(PS - Come join us over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions.  I’ve got some questions up to help you formulate your writing goals for 2013).

--Annabel Aidan is a full-time writer publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction.  Her paranormal romantic suspense novel for Champagne is ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, combining witchcraft, theatre, and politics.  Website:


Big Mike said...

Reading? Your joking right. I used to read 2 to 4 books a month. Since I started writing novels myself, other than critquing author bud and budettes WIPs, I haven't been able to finish a book on my read list. Not enough slices in the pie so had to give up that piece of fun stuff.


Annabel Aidan said...

I still read about 4 books a week. Of course, some of them I'm PAID to read! ;)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I'm reading much more than I ever had before. The Kindle helps me read faster; I never lose my place. While I read, my own WIP or edits will get fresh eyes when I return to the fine tuning.

Coffee Time Romance and More has introduced me to some new authors who are very good. it's great to see these people getting out there to be discovered by new readers who will take a chance for $6.00 or so.