Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Only as Good As?

They say a writer is only as good as her last book. True, very true. If you’ve turned out a string of pearls and deliver a lump of coal, that’s what you’ll have to overcome in the next book.

I don’t think I’ve done that yet. Not to brag (OK, it’s bragging), but one reader says each Duckworthy book is better than the last one. I’m not examining that sentiment far enough to see what it says about the first two. Nope, not doing it.

But what occurred to me yesterday, as I completed a scene that I very much like, and one that popped up all on its own, as they are wont to do, is that maybe a writer is only as good as her last chapter. Her last paragraph? Her last sentence?

No wonder writers exist in a constant state of mild anxiety, broken up by periods of sheer terror, usually induced by deadlines.

Am I overthinking this? Maybe not. After all, you can’t stick awful sentences into your paragraphs and just continue on your blithe way. They all have to be crafted. They all have to hang together. Nothing must impede the reader, speeding through your deathless prose, turning the pages into the night—ideally.

When we do put in a stumbling block, we sure do depend on our beta readers to point those out to us so we can smooth the way.

This is very much on my mind as I finish up the second Fat Cat book and embark on the third. The first one was so well received, that I can’t believe the second one will measure up, let alone the third. All I can do is write the best book I can and fling it out there. Talk about a wing and a prayer!


I will add that I depend on my publishers’ editors to keep me on the straight and narrow to producing an entertaining book. However, it’s my name on the cover, right? One of my names, anyway.

This blog is duplicated at Janet's place,http://janetcantrell.blogspot.com/. 

2 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Kaye,

You can drive yourself crazy that way. Fact is we can write wonderful words, sentences and paragraphs -- and the story sucks. Or, as bestsellers continue to demonstrate, you can write a great story with clunky words, sentences and paragraphs and sell gazillions.

What I take from that is you need to start with a great story and then write it as well as you can (or desire).

Best of luck with Fat Cat and your other tales.

~ Jim

Kaye George said...

I admit I'm pretty good at driving myself crazy. Thanks, Jim!