I’m in no position to give anyone writing advice, so I don’t. I relate issues I come up with as I struggle along, and hope writers or anyone else can glean something of use from my fumblings.
After writing fourteen thousand words of a new book, which I knew was going to work out, I stumbled. I kept writing. The new book crashed and burned.
A few days after leaving the smoldering ashes, I can see that the main reason it flopped was because it had no center — I didn’t know what I was writing about. I was just moving the characters around.
The book was based on the opening of a different novel. This book was going to act as an introduction to that one, a stand-alone book but also a warm-up.
Those ideas are crippling when you haven’t figured out where you’re going.
I was more interested in finishing something than in thestory itself. I didn’t know where I was heading.
As someone who for years never planned out stories, I resist outlining, but it isn’t such a big deal, just a few signs on the road you want your characters to travel is enough of an outline for me.
I didn’t have that, so the book died.
I don’t know what I’ll do, exactly, but just to keep writing I am working on a new story about a character I like. It’s of a different genre and I’m having fun with it while I figure out what my “real” next novel is going to be. The characters are alive, doing their thing, and I’m just sort of sitting back and watching and taking it all down. I’m writing thousands of words a day as opposed to struggling along, forcing characters to keep moving.
(A sign the writing is poor: Characters do a lot of looking at each other, and I describe them walking. Deadly.)
Books written out of a sense of marketing duty and those written for enjoyment feel different while you’re writing them.
It’s not as simple as “You write for the market or you write for personal enjoyment.” I don’t believe I can write for The Market in that I can build something just because “The Readers” (whoever they are) will buy it. 50 Shades of Gray, fantasy novels, action novels — they’re junk to me. I should be able to knock a few off, make some money. Doesn’t work that way. The writers of those books love those kinds of books.
The balancing act is between your own enjoyment and communicating that on the page so others can partake of your pleasure in the story.
It really isn’t that complicated. It’s just impossible for 99% of the folks who try to write.
If you write what you enjoy, at least one person liked it. But that’s not enough if you want to be read.