I hate my book and here’s why!
The good news, this year I resolve to complete my first novel.
The bad news, this is the third year that I’ve made this promise.
It’s normal to hate your first book… right?
Setting out to write a novel is one of those things many of us hope to do. Not because we expect to become best-selling authors, but because we want to tell a story. Our story and our way. And as an avid RPG player, I wanted to create something set in a world of my own creation.
I’ve learned a lot these last few years, especially for someone trained in technical rather than creative writing. It turns out, writing dry reports for the army or digital marketing blurbs for a website are completely different from the artistry required by an 100,000-word novel.
After a long conversation with a reader, I realized that I’ve put off finishing this novel for months. I’d rather read nutrition facts off a cereal box than return to my world. It dawned on me, I couldn’t finish my work because it wasn’t interesting to me. I kept trying to write a novel for the “market” or for the sci-fi / fantasy audience rather than for me.
So, after much soul searching I discovered some of what sucked about my book and what I need to do differently. As an aside, if you ARE writing to become the next Tolkien then you should ignore everything that I write and read about what sells in your market. I’m not trying to sell, I’m trying to finish something for myself first and the audience second.
Trilogies are a gimmick
The biggest mistake I made was to listen to marketing advice. As every blog ever likes to state, you must write a trilogy. Trilogies are so hot right now.
Problem was, I started to write unimportant filler to increase length. I mean, now I need to break my original story into three parts to string the reader along. I need multiple retellings of the same material, but by character isn’t brooding if he doesn’t do it for 500 pages.
Huge mistake! The hugest.
Now, I’ve freed my mind and will write the book I originally intended. One story in one book. Case closed. Sure, a new book could have the same characters, but it’ll be a new story. This could also because I’m tired of trilogies that exist for no reason except to fulfill a marketing goal and revenue goal.
Characters need each other
That character who owned chapter three. You remember that guy, right? He took out an entire army of tentacles with a spork. Well, he never meets up with the rest of the characters. Instead, I have each person telling a different tale separate from the others.
I think this is a world builder problem. We have so much we want to cover that we create a point of view for each location. The problem is that my characters need other characters to confront, work with, hate, love, etc. What could be better than having them team up with my other memorable characters rather than a bunch of side characters.
Duh, beginners mistake! It’s a story and not a guide to the world. Now I’m weaving their stories together.
Bringing the fantasy back
I like realism, especially internal realism. That elf that surfs the shield down the staircase while vomiting arrows. That annoys the hell out of me.
But, this IS fantasy. It’s okay to have oversized cities, fabulous magics and extra tentacles. Too often I went the safe route when I should have played up the otherworldly and weird in my setting.
I think this is another challenge for RPG players. We are tired of super thin plots of kill the dragon and save the prince. Comic book heroics are also out. Who needs some hero that doesn’t bleed, suffer consequences or die? Not George Martin, that’s who.
So, I need to create a new balance. I want realism to make my characters believable and relatable, i.e. not a bunch of D&D stats. But, I need the fantasy elements too, because that is what makes this genre so much fun. So, time to edit those fireballs back into the story!
Are you writing a book, but dread going back to finish or edit it? Then you too may hate your book. Don’t despair! Think about what you hate about it and go a different direction. Break the restrictions you set on yourself. When you think about it, those really only exist in your mind.