I’ve always said when you stop growing as a writer, your writing dies. We’re like sharks, swimming and swimming to keep that oxygen pumping through our blood.
A few years ago, when I first started writing seriously and sold my first story, I was on top of the world. I felt like I had finally arrived, and knew how to do this shit. People were actually taking me seriously as a writer.
That didn’t last long. I got a rejection, and another, and another. I sold a few more stories too, but then my reviews started coming in, and I got dinged for my lack of good characterization.
I’ve always been an epic fantasy and sci fi guy, drawn to the genres by the fantastical plots and whiz-bang tech. It was a reality check for me that I needed to also focus on the people in my stories. So I worked on that really hard, figuring out who they were and what made them tick, and slowly my reviews got better.
Fast forward to today. I’ve reached a reasonable measure of success with my writing–while none of my books or stories have been runaway bestsellers, I’ve reached the top of a number of Amazon charts over the years. I even reached #64 overall, one day last November when I had a BookBub for “The Stark Divide.”
So now I have this writing thing all figured out.
Apparently not. Although I have a wonderful group of devoted fans (love you guys!), my efforts so far to find an agent or land a big publisher have gone unrewarded. And a fairly universal theme has emerged in the rejections, those that took the time to give me a reason – the writing itself is great, but the plot doesn’t advance well enough.
So it’s back to square one, and time to reassess.
I write epic novels with huge casts — and lots and lots of plot threads. They lend my stories a depth and breadth that I love, but I can see how it can leave readers feeling a bit muddled.
I’m also a big fan of flashbacks, which give insight to the characters’ pasts and show events which overshadow the present action.
I also POV hop several times in each chapter, although always in separate scenes.
I’m writing a new novel, and have decided to change up all of those things to create a story with a much stronger plot. The new story will have just three POVs (I think Ithani had eight or nine). Each POV gets its own chapter, and there are no flashbacks. And the action will hopefully power through the first few chapters to carry the reader into the heart of the story.
Will it work?
Who knows – it’s all one grand experiment. But the point is for me to keep growing as a writer, so by that measure, it will be worth it.
So it’s into the deep end I go!
To my writer friends – have you ever had to reassess your writing skills and methods? How come? What came out of it?