Practice is supposed to help you improve, right? The more you practice a process, the easier it becomes. Yet I’ve talked before about how each book seems to be more challenging than the last. From speaking to other published authors, I know I’m not the only one hitting this apparent paradox.
So just for fun, I thought I’d break down the books and figure out some of the major challenges and lessons I had to learn from each one.
Goblin Quest: 1st published book. Just trying to write a publishable work!
Goblin Hero: 1st sequel. Had to figure out how much to summarize from book one. Also added a second PoV character, with her own plotline.
Goblin War: Left the goblin lair and went out into the world, which required a little more worldbuilding. Had to learn how to conclude a series. Had to learn how to incorporate backstory and intertwine it with the current storyline.
Stepsister Scheme: New series with a somewhat more serious tone. New world, new characters, new everything!
Mermaid’s Madness: Four PoV characters, each with their own plotline. Eep! Massive sailing/ocean research. Larger worldbuilding (multiple nations, cultures, etc.) than anything I’ve done before.
Red Hood’s Revenge: Stepping out of the pseudo-European fantasy feel into a different cultural context. Working with sustained plotlines and character developments that carry through 4 books.
Having thought about this stuff way too much, it’s not that writing gets harder the more you do it. Instead, I see two factors. (Okay, two and a half.)
1. I’m writing more ambitious books. Goblin Quest was a blast, but it’s not the most complex plot, and there’s only one PoV character. I suspect that if I were to go back and write a similar book, it would be a lot easier than the current work in progress. (Being stubborn, I suspect I’ll just keep getting more ambitious until my brain explodes, though.)
2. I’m more aware of the different aspects of writing. Compare it to karate. The first time you go, you learn some basic moves. “Look ma, I’m punching and kicking! Go me!” But the more you practice, the more you become aware of things like stance, breathing, the proper way to make a fist, how far to extend your punch, the snapback after an attack… With time, a lot of that becomes instinctive, of course. But for every aspect that becomes automatic, you discover three more new things.
2.5 My family situation has grown steadily busier since I wrote Goblin Quest. So basically, I’m writing more challenging books with less time. Whee!
Please understand that I’m not complaining. I love what I do. I’m just trying to understand this phenomenon. I’m still young in my career, so I don’t know how things will evolve over the next 10, 20, or 30 books. (Yes, I’m an optimist!)
Have other people found the same increasingly steep curve? Or maybe it’s my memory playing tricks on me. This novel always feels like the hardest one to write because it’s the one I’m doing right now, and I forget how hard the last one was. (I’ve heard there’s a similar phenomenon with pregnancy and childbirth, actually.)