Ever since I watched the movie Quo Vadis starring Robert Taylor (yup...I'm ancient ha!), the phrase has become one of my go to phrases. It means, what next? And authors have a lot of 'What next' moments particularly when it comes to writing the next book or the next short story.
Now that Firebinders: Marek has been sent out to the world to be read, praised, criticized, or villified (drama much?) I have arrived at another Quo Vadis moment and I've realized that I have to take stock of what I write and how I write.
See, when I was just starting in my writing career, I was full of ideas. I was pumped and ready to go. Within the first 12 months of my career I came out with three books - Love in Her Dreams, Rapture at Midnight, and Forever at Midnight. I thought I could churn out books and I wouldn't even shed one damn sweat drop. I thought that I was immune to writer's block. That I could write without exhaustion.
In my short hubris (hey, I'm not perfect), I started to forget that characters didn't just spring out from my head perfectly made like Athena sprouted from Zeus. The adrenalin rush of coming out with published material started to wane and sometimes it was getting difficult to remember that I had to thresh out my characters before I could even start writing. But just like any author, when a burst of inspiration drops on your lap, you have to grab it by the balls and squeeze it for all it's worth. Ouch!
The frenzy of wanting to write as many books in as little time as possible is still there; but, if I want to come out with good stories that will linger in my readers minds, I have to quash the temptation of running with the pack. Of being bamboozled to come out with stories that I won't be satisfied with. And that is when characters become caricatures. When they become the shallow personifications of what they are truly meant to be.
Well, Im back to the drawing board. I've written the chapters for Slow Dancing, the 4th installment in the Second Chances series but I've stopped for a while. Why? Because I need to get to know my characters and listen to what they want to say. I did that with Luke and Gracie (which took two years in the making), Matt and Serenity (this one was the only one in the series that came out of my head full blown and made), and Oliver and Felicity (I grappled with who Oliver was and thank God I did!).
With Drake and Bethany, I don't want to short change my readers. I don't want to short change me either because if I can't feel who Drake and Bethany are, then I won't be able to write their story as well as I can. I need to know what drives them, why they have become who they are, what their goals and aspirations are, what are the wounds that stop them from being who they can be, what stops them from being truly happy?
When I have threshed out all of these, only then will I be able to write their story.
I owe it to my readers to make it the best that it can be. :-)
If you would like to read the series click on the title you'd like to read.
Be Mine (Luke and Gracie's story)
You & I (Matt and Serenity's story)
Take All of Me (Oliver and Felicity's story)