Monday, October 3, 2011

Keeping up the quality

So many of you write such deep, introspective things about your writing life, and I do enjoy reading them. However, my articles are sometimes serious, but not the deep introspection into writing that others have.

That’s one of the things that makes authors such unique individuals. We all may think alike as far as our writing skills and knowledge are concerned, but when it comes to topics and styles, we all have our own way of doing things. Some are plotters, planners, and organizers. Others of us are Pantsters and don’t know the whole story until we write it.

Those who write mystery, suspense or thrillers have their own way of thinking and keeping their readers on edge until the end. We have gentle, sweet, romance writers who have conflict, but it doesn’t blow up in your face.

I envy those who can write mystery, suspense, speculative and fantasy. That’s just not me, but I enjoy reading those genres. Perhaps that’s because I don’t feel I am competing with them for a reader base. I want my stories to touch the hearts of my readers as they watch the lives of my characters grow and evolve in their relationships with each other and with the Lord.

The libraries and bookstores are full of books for every kind of reading tastes. If readers can’t find something they would enjoy reading, they just haven’t looked hard enough.

Each of us writes with our own style and voice, and that’s how it should be. Being true to ourselves in our writing is what makes our writing sincere and keeps it moving. It also builds our fan base if we strive for excellence in our writing. When the quality of our writing stays true to our voice and style, our readers won’t be disappointed.

So many times we may wonder if that first book was a fluke and if everyone will hate the next ones. As long as God is helping us write, and we rely on Him to supply us with the stories, we will not disappoint.

My greatest concern with my writing is that the quality will diminish the more I write. I’ve seen it so often in the secular world, but only a few times in CBA authors. Later books by well known, best-selling authors sometimes lose the pizzazz of the first few and the plots and outcomes become much too predictable. That’s what I hope I can overcome and write so that each book keeps getting better rather than the same old thing.

Of course in romance there has to be some predictability in the hero and heroine resolving all issues and coming together at the end, but the journey to that end must be exciting and keep the reader turning the pages to find out how the two will finally be together.

What do you do to make sure each book is as good as and even better than the previous one, especially in a series?


Greg Mitchell said...

I know my series is different than some because it's not open ended. It has a defiinte finale that I'm constantly pushing towards. So the way I keep things fresh from book to book within the series is escalation. Plot twists, betrayals, character growth--all leading up to those final scenes of the last book. I really see my series as one huge super-book, cut into three parts.

If I had an open ended series--especially one like a lot of the romance authors have with different characters and/or setting each book--I fear it'd be hard to have that same sense of "building towards something" that keeps me engaged as a writer. I think it'd be really easy to just write "more of the same" and rehash the same old plots. But, by following a specific group of characters who are constantly changing from book to book, it allows for fresh stories as they enter different phases of their lives--physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

I applaud authors of open-ended series that manage to keep things fresh and exciting!

Mike Dellosso said...

Martha, I've never written a series and don't know if I ever will. It's not how my brain works, nor my patience. But from book to book I find freshness by centering the story on the characters. Yes, mystery/thriller/suspense has a lot of action and a strong plot but for me the key is still the people (both who populate the story and who read it). I, too, want to touch hearts and hopefully change lives with my story . . . through the characters.

If I can continue to write interesting, fresh, unique characters then my stories will continue to be interesting and fresh.

Beth Shriver said...

One thing I like about this group of writers is the honesty and humbleness. It's a great encouragement to hear that other writers have the the same thoughts and struggles. I've written in a number of genres and have found all of them enjoyable to write in. I prefer the story rather than the genre to guide me as to what I'll write next. I'd never written a series until now and it is challenging, but readers like to pick up a second or third book and feel they know the characters, it's like coming home again. When I read the first book of a series I almost always read the entire series kowing I'll like some more than others. So I figure the same will happen with my books as well.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Probably, my answer is closer to Mike's. With my books more character driven than plot driven, even though the books have different plotlines, they can be fresh. We are all so unique, and I try to make my characters unique.

Of course, that's a little different with this first Realms series, because the heroines are identical triplets separated at birth. That kind of feels like shooting myself in the foot. I have to make each heroine unique, but alike in many ways.

Bruce Hennigan said...

I'm writing a book series but I try and keep it fresh by mapping out just how much the reader will learn in each book. At the same time, I want each book to have a sense of completeness as if it can stand alone. Although my Realms' books will be suspenseful with thrills and mystery, I love to add in a dash of romance and a little bit of wit.
I also am a character driven writer. The plot is important but I focus on the characters first and foremost and throw them into a challenging or impossible situation. It is the characters that have always interested me and I want to continue to grow and develop them.
Thanks for the honest post. I think we all share the same fears and concerns about our future. I don't want to become derivative and predictable with my stories but I want the humanity to shine through. It is through our very human failures and triumphs that the world can see the work of our Lord. I try to keep that in forefront.

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Martha,
Since I've only recently had my first book published and am about to turn in book 2 you could say that I'm concerned that maybe no one will like book 2. Is there a sophomore slump in the writer's world? Is book 2 typically better, worse, the same as book one for most writers? Is there even a possible measurment for such a thing?

With all the competition in book selling how do you even know if book two or any of your books are good? I know, I'm getting deep. Whther it's a series or not what have you all thought about your own book #2?