Always write a bad book first

May 29, 2016

In researching how to get published I remember someone wrote that when you start writing you have to first get a bad book out of the way. I was worried for a while as my first novel that I published was the first book I've ever finished. Well, that is what I thought.

 

The first novella I finished was just for me (and no you will never see it ever) it dealt with issues in my life and was a complete fantasy world where I as the Mary Sue got everything I wanted. I actually wrote a few of these before I published my first book. Some of them are actually pretty good even if they are all Mary Sues.

 

(Mary Sues are books where the main characters is just like the author but without any flaws. They are fun to write but terrible for others to read.)

 

But once I realised that these first novellas were actually my first bad book I became a true believer in that every author needs to first write a bad book. It is not a waste of time. I learnt a lot on how to finish a story and plot development and all that from my bad books. So that when I wrote my first novel I knew what not to do and what I should do.

So here are some things I learnt from writing a bad book.

1. A story has its own length don't drag it out- Some authors are the kind to knock out a book that will rival the last book of Harry Potter and think it is marvellous. I've never been like that. My first few books were about 20,000 words. But they were finished and they felt finished. I once tried to extend one out and I totally ruined it. It is still sitting on my laptop in the 'to write' pile. When I wrote my first published books I sweated that it was too short. But to me it was finished. It didn't need anything more. A fellow author asked why I was trying to reach some arbitrary word limit when the story was finished. He was right. Let a book be as short as it needs to be. In fact shorter the better.

2. I hate Self Righteous characters- My Mary Sues always have pretty sad lives that they overcome and they are long suffering and never complain. By the end of the book I would want to kick someones butt. Your characters should be loveable and you do that by giving them a flaw. Like a character that is clumsy or someone who always walks into situations they shouldn't.

3. Alpha males are awful- Part of my sad, sad Mary Sues was these arrogant men who always came to the rescue. They were tools. Ironically my favourite male out of all my bad books was a Dom. (don't ask) because he let the Mary Sue take control. It made me realised I like nice guys in my books. Yeah, some of them are a little broken.

4. Too much baggage drowns a character- Like I had very sad stories for pretty much all my characters until that was all there was to my characters. My character were a list of events instead of having personalities. I still like to give my characters some baggage but that is only to highlight their flaws and bolster their personalities. Mostly the baggage is left in the past and my characters are who they are despite that instead of because of it. Like Degu who was raped and a raider who ends up after years of being angry finding his purpose and now he protects people.

5. Other people matter- The characters who were the most memorable in my bad books was actually the supporting characters. I let them evolve themselves but in reality people are surrounded by others. Man is not an island.

 

I'm sure there were other things I learnt like how to stick to a book until it is finished and other useful things. Hopefully this has convinced you to first get that bad book out of the way so you can write something amazing.

 

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