Writing a novel is a skill that can be learned.  So logically, it would seem that once you've learned how to plot and write a novel, it should get easier, right?


Please tell me I'm right.

The truth is that I had no idea how to write a novel when I started writing Silver.  I read a few craft books and a lot of fiction, and then just sat down and tried to tell a story.  My agent was kind enough to give me a crash course in plotting, and I rewrote a large chunk of the book before we went on submission.

So when it came time to write the next one, I figured I was ahead of the game.  I could take what I learned from writing the first one and apply it to the next book I wrote.  My second book, Spies and Prejudice, went much faster.  I wrote it in about ten weeks.

Yeah, I thought I had this whole novel thing figured out.

Not so much.

I had to rewrite the entire book.

But that experience taught me so much about plot and character that surely the next book would be easier?

Yes.  In some ways, Gold was the easiest book for me to write.  I knew the characters inside and out, and the story came together pretty closely to how I had originally plotted it, with a few, mostly pleasant, surprises along the way.  There were revisions and the beginning was restructured, but the main plot and characters didn't change much from the original draft.

Then came the book that nearly killed me- my current work in progress clicked along until I hit the second act and then it came to a grinding halt.  There were days when I couldn't write more than 100 words despite spending hours in front of the manuscript.  On days when the words did come, they were often disjointed, cliche and barely salvageable.  The plot became unworkable, and the characters were hard to pin down.  Somehow I managed to push through and finish the draft, but even now, I have a love-hate relationship with the book.  The trauma of that first draft casts a shadow over my revisions, even when things are going well.  I've had more bad writing days on this manuscript than I remember having on the other three combined.

Book 5 is my guilty pleasure book.  I call it the book with no hook, but it's the book that I think about and play with for the pure joy of exploring the characters and uncovering their story.  My agent doesn't even know about it, mainly because I'm pretty sure she would encourage me to spend my time on something more commercial.  But this book isn't for the market, it's just for me.  And while I'm having fun with it, it has it's challenges too (um, did I mention it has no hook?).  

There is no one way to write a story, and every story is its own journey.  Every book has something to teach me about craft, and no matter how much I think I've learned, the next book will school me some more.

Bring it on.


Its refreshing to hear that someone else has a love-hate relationship with one of their books! Great post.

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