The other day I was thinking of how much has changed in the publishing world and my writing. The publishing world is something I cannot control, even by self-publishing. People will buy what they want to buy, no matter how much you advertise or if the book is published by a big five (formerly six) or small press.
So I rather talk about what I can control: my writing.
No way would I say my writing is at the level I want, but I can easily say it’s many times better than when I wrote my first book. It was a medieval with the unique (not!) title of DARK DESIRES. Go to Amazon and type that title under a search for books, and you’ll see what I mean. It has been a common title for many years.
My first 40,000 word book took several years to write, and thankfully I had the sense not to send it out to editors and agents. Bless their hearts. They had to deal with several others I finished after that one.
What are a few things I learned about myself and writing in general? Do you feel a list coming on? Oh, yes, I do love them.
- I needed to work on my grammar. Now I’m a proud owner of at least eight grammar books. And I still work on it. I swear!
- The more I learn about writing, the longer my books become.
- The average adult reads at a 9th grade level (Click here to find out more. Under Readability and newspaper readership). So I believe simple is best and I've found my favorite authors unknowingly do the same. This is more to do with sentence structure and word choice, and my preference to entertain and not educate.
- I've learned to keep my plots simple with only a few but hopefully surprising twists. The more complicated, the more confusing the book becomes and the bigger chance for plot holes.
- I usually keep to no more than two Point Of Views in one book. Will that change later? Not sure. I just know if I’m reading a book with multiple POVs (let’s say four or more), I become frustrated. “When is she going to return to the people I really care about?” “The hell with the main characters, I like the secondary characters better! Why didn't she write their book?”
- I work hard to make each beginning to be different. Such as I do the happily ever after endings, yet that brings me to the next one:
- I like to end my books with one of my characters saying something funny.
- More than once I've claimed when I get bored writing my book, I kill someone or blow something up. That’s true. Good thing I write romantic suspense (in particular, assassins, spies and mercenaries).
- I try to keep my chapters around 10 manuscript pages because a friend of mine mentioned she hated long chapters. Because she could sneak-read short chapters in odd places (e.g., waiting in drive-thrus), and she often found herself neglecting bathroom runs if they were too long. Personally, I take the book with me. Yeah, yeah, bet you take your cell phone into the stall. Same difference.
- I avoid prologues, not only because most editors hate them, but because to me they are a false start to the story.
Remember that every author has her own quirks and may be totally the opposite of mine. That’s okay. It doesn't mean they are wrong to do so. There are plenty of readers who love different styles. Thank goodness. Besides, my style continues to evolve.
Carla Swafford writes erotic romantic suspense. Her second book, CIRCLE OF DANGER, won the GDRWA Booksellers' Best award in erotic romance.