Why Book 2 before Book 1

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Write for yourself, edit for everyone else

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An important part of writing flow and stoking your own creativity is letting go of all external expectations. Too often, young writers can grow anxious as to whether anyone will want to wear what they’re proverbially sewing together. This anxiousness can drain your creative tank and otherwise demotivate a writer from continuing, much less finishing, a written work.

Own your idea

The idea that came to you while showering or driving or watching TV won’t leave you alone. It follows you like a thief follows the chink of stolen coins in shallow pockets. This idea fires your imagination and keeps you up at night. Whatever that idea might be, own it. Grab onto it and don’t let it go.

There’s a reason this idea is burning bright within you. The concept feeds some inner desire you’ve always had, even if your story involves something infinitely more salacious or deadly than you would ever commit to, in real life. That sordid drama, dashing adventure, gruesome murder by the creek titillates your hunger for a larger-than-life experience.

Chances are, if it excites you, it will excite someone else. Don’t let that concept go. Stoke it, expand it, explore it and let it tell you what its beginning and end should be.

Test its reality

Now that your idea has flourished into a full concept, test its reality. Ask how your characters can realistically accomplish their goals. Are your characters behaving with depth? What inner conflicts, flaws or desires could prevent their smooth accomplishment? What interpersonal issues with people they trust could slow their progress? What typical speed bumps by external forces could derail your grand vision from being a reality?

It’s important to ground your story if you want your readers to relate to your heroes/anti-heroes. People are real, which means they make mistakes, don’t always do the right thing the first time — even if they’re trying to, and can let their own flaws get the best of them. While you need not write the next lifetime drama if you’re attempting to write a space epic, you should ensure that the characters — however fantastic they may be — still operate by rules of realism.

Write for yourself

Now that you’ve tested the concept, write. Don’t worry about how others will love or hate it. WRITE THAT BOOK FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL SATISFACTION. There’s only one reader you need to satisfy, at this point, and that’s YOU, the writer.

One thing I love most about writing a book is that I get to be the first person to read the content. Even knowing a heavy editing process will follow, I, at least, get to be the very first reader. I get to see what happens to Peter or Wendy or Tinker Belle before anyone else does. That is so personally satisfying that, although I aim for all my books to be read, I still find a core element of satisfaction for the pure reading experience that led me to want to write in the first place.

In other words, I write for the same reason I love to read — to experience a larger-than-life adventure! Whether I share it or not, it doesn’t diminish the reading experience, and that’s where I get the bulk of my satisfaction as a novelist — reading my own novel.

Edit for everyone else

Now that I’ve written a great yarn, now I need to sew it together for others to enjoy. I must recognize that a novel that stirs my passion is so biased to my reading style that I could omit a great many other readers who could fall in as much love with my characters as I have if I don’t shape my story properly. The imperative to edit my story now drives me to step back and take the steps necessary to prepare my draft for as many reading styles, as possible.

One of the core principles of communication is about how messages move from sender to receiver. The sender must send out a clear message through a clear medium in a manner the reader can best receive. If any of these three elements fail, so will the message.

As a writer, I must frame my “living daydream” into clear, concise language that adequately conveys my imagination into a format that most readers can consume with as much visceral and emotional accuracy to my original vision as possible. While not all readers will like your style or your story, you must frame your language and your concept so as to be most available to the most number of people in order to best spread the message of your vision.

Principles like clean use of language, simplified terms, adequate descriptions of people and places without inundation, appropriate foreshadowing and fully explaining mysteries in a satisfactory manner are important elements to ensuring readers are satisfied with your mystery/adventure.

You first, then others

Only until you’ve completed your vision and written our your entire first draft should you really consider how others might take it. If you do your homework with ensuring your concept is based in a form of reality and fully flesh out the entirety of your idea, then editing is mostly a task of shaping the written language to best deliver your dream.

So don’t get caught up worrying about others. Focus on satisfying yourself and the precepts of reality, first. Write out that novel. Enjoy it. Only then should you get it ready for everyone else.


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