I have a really, really crappy book in my past. I never tell anybody which book it is. I figure the less I talk about it the more hidden it will stay.
Yesterday was one of those days, though, when it just sort of jumped out at me on the bookshelf, cover faced forward, the hero and heroine staring at me.
I said, "Stop that! Stop looking at me!" But there it was. Hero and heroine just staring at me, sort of accusing me of letting them down. LOL
Because I did let them down and yesterday, as I stared at their cover, I asked myself why. Or maybe how. How does a reasonably good author write a gaggle of good books and then produce a raging lemon?
I came up withe three things.
2. Surface skimming.
3. Writing what people expected me to write, not what my characters were telling me.
Actually, we're going to take them backward and start with writing what other people expect me to write not what my characters were telling me.
These two characters were cute and fun. The story I put them in didn't really suit them. If I'd have thought about that long and hard enough I would have seen that. But...I didn't have time to think it through.
So I skimmed the SURFACE of the story. I knew exactly what marks I had to hit with these two and we hit them, but we never really got to know the characters and, let's face it, readers read to get to know the characters to sort of 'be' the characters for 200 or so pages. And though surface writing gets things done, it doesn't allow readers a chance to get to know the characters.
Which takes us to rushing. I had a deadline. I had to meet it. The only way I could meet it was to write the book. (Duh.)
I also didn't have the tools at my disposal that I have now. I didn't know to write a one-paragraph story summary to get to the heart of the story quickly. I didn't know how to create a storyboard so I could "see" the major steps of each chapter and see how they meshed. I didn't know much about character arcs. About threading the growth of both of my characters through that storyboard so I could make sure they both grew...but also make sure that readers really got to know both characters.
I know better now. I know A LOT better now. (Laugh. I did.) But the thing is...that book never comes off my book shelf. It is one of my almost 50 books and will be forever.
That reminder is just a little something for all of us to ponder in this day and age of self-publishing. Every book you publish becomes part of "who you are" as an author. True, you can pull it from Amazon if or when you realize you didn't give your bad book a good shot...but you can't get it back from everybody who bought it.
And sure as shootin' just when you least want it to that sucker will surface! LOL