Retreat to Go Forward

December 28th, 2009 by David Leave a reply »

I finished Sword, Staff, and Chalice on Yuletide Eve, which was a nice present. Starting with a plot that was fairly solid but had some gray areas in it, I wrote 120,000 words in under two months, which is a good pace for me. The first draft has been described as a ‘page turner’ by its intrepid first reader (I haven’t even re-read the book myself yet), which is something no one said about Beowulf Stormbringer.

When I was midway through book one, Scott Sigler gave me some good advice, namely that my first book would suck. I resisted that wisdom at the time, but after learning how to do it properly, I can now say that story-wise book one is too internal, linear, and simple. Things come too easily to young Beowulf, and as a result, he has more conflict in his own mind than he does with the world. Not ideal for sword and sorcery… My task right now is to discover my events that complicate and enrich his path toward discovering his own strength and the sword that is a two-edged, um, sword for him.

It is for this reason many people wiser than I have argued that starting your novel-writing career with a series is idiotic—you have to sell the series on the basis of the first book, and guess which one is likely the weakest? However, even if I had gotten that sage advice before starting, I might still have started the way I did. It’s been a wonderful learning experience, and I believe I can finish a strong three book series. Writing a standalone second book might get me to market faster, but speed is not my goal. I don’t want to be published until I’m have something that is fun, satisfying, and just a little edifying, I am ready to maintain a pace of two books a year, and I already have one or two sequels or new projects nearly complete to follow it up.

At the same time as I work on the plot to book one, I want to push ahead with book three (just starting to flesh out the plot now), and I have at least three other projects I am itching to start. That means more living very simply (which as long as I have a roof over my head and enough to eat is actually fine with me), working hard, and writing 3,000 words per day when I’m writing rather than plotting, researching, or editing. All of which I’m really looking forward to.



  1. MG says:

    Good thoughts and goals here. Definitely ambitious. Now you’ve worried me about my first book in my series… I need to follow your example about not being in a hurry. That’s the toughest for me.

  2. Genericwit says:

    Well, I’m thoroughly impressed that you’re doing that much writing a day. I’ve been on a dry spell. I’ve been pumping out plenty of writing, probably on average 7-10,000 words a week, but most of that is going towards RPs, fanfictions, etc. I don’t know what’s going on with my original fiction, and that scares me.

    The thing is that this RP is from a fandom in which, in essence, we’ve only taken the characters. It’s in an alternate time period with alternate careers and alternate relationships. And we’ve got a good storyline planned out.

    Is it that I’m more motivated when consulting with someone else? Or is it that my own creativity has died, and I need someone every once in a while to kick me in the arse with a good plot line that makes me want to top it with my own?


    As for the first book, if it’s the weakest and it’s still good, that says a lot about the strength of the series, obviously.

    Did your first one ever get picked up? And about this one, why am I not reading it right now?!

  3. David says:

    MG: I have a feeling the plot of your book one is better than my book one. Happy to read it when/if you want to share.

    GenericWit: What fandom is your RP (at least the characters) from? BTW, I don’t really see a distinction between writing for a different universe as opposed to your own original fiction. In both cases, you are creating and writing. If you like collaborating, go with it! It’s great having someone else to bounce ideas around. With regard to book one, I haven’t even submitted anywhere other than sending it to my test readers for feedback. I know it needs more work. You can read book two after I do at least a round of copy edits. I have some things to clean up.