Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Difference Between Your FIRST Novel And Your SECOND

With my first novel, I was pretty starry-eyed about the whole thing. I thought if there was passion, great writing, and a fabulous concept, I’d nail an agent like that. *snaps* After all, I’d watched my three closest friends get book deals on their first books with Big 6 Publishers and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I couldn’t either. I almost expected it to happen. Cue wild hysterical laugh!

Man, was I deluded!

But don’t you think you need to be a tad delusional in your first stages of writing… If you weren’t, would you really jump into the process? I mean, no one enters this business thinking, “I’m going to write a book because I want to beat my head against agent’s and publisher’s doors just to see how long I can before I pass out.” (Well, I could be wrong) But I think we start because we want to create magic on the page, fulfill that part of our soul that needs to be set free.

Think back to your first story. Maybe you were a kid, maybe it was last year, maybe it’s today, but there’s magic to the first words you put on paper. (Regardless if it’s crap, there’s magic)

But now, with my second book, I look at it more clinically. I want to perfect this craft. Just like any talent. Most of you know I was a hard-core ballerina for years. And it takes YEARS to develop the muscles and skills with careful training to achieve perfection. Why would writing be any different?

Yes, I think that some have more natural talent than others, which will always be the case with everything, but the technique is still there. The tools are still the same with how to hone your skills and create a worthy piece of work.

Am I going off subject?

Anyway, my point is, I know my second book is better. But what’s interesting is I don’t feel the same intense passion about it. Do I love it? Yes, but it’s different from my first. Is it because all first novels are different? Is it because I’m looking at it more like a job? ß Which is great. My passion for writing is still the same.

Where are you in the journey? Maybe you can explain better what I’m trying to convey. I think the process is fascinating. I love it. And I can’t wait for a year from now when I’ll have even a better grasp on everything.

Red. Head. Out. :D 

43 comments:

  1. I was pretty starry-eyed about my first book too. Second one, yes. Third one, not so much. I just finished my fourth, and its the most excited I've been about a book. I feel like this one's my baby. I don't think there's any set formula, but I do know I've become a better writer. My advice...just keep writing!

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  2. It's a twisted individual that signed up to beat his head on the publishing wall!
    My first full story was awful. (That's what I get for writing it as a teenager.) Completely rewrote it thirty-odd years later. Not sure if that makes it still the first story or the second? Did end up being my first book though.

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  3. My first book was more of a challenge to myself to see if I could actually do it. There were no thoughts of agents or publication, just producing a full-fledged novel was enough. But you are right, the second book was more clinical, and yes, it is leaps and bounds ahead of the first one. Will the process be the same as I embark on a 3rd, in a different genre? TBD! :)

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  4. I agree Morgan. My first book was NOT good. But I was starry eyed over it because at that time I knew nothing about this industry so I was delusional and happy.

    Now, I know more (not all...I don't think we can ever know all) and I do realize how much work it is but I'm still happy.

    Once we lose that happiness that comes with writing, then we're in trouble.

    Do I sometimes miss being delusional? Yeah. But rarely. I have a way better chance now then I did before, even if I was floating among the clouds... :)

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  5. I am working on my 1st one, now. And I am a mess of emotion if I let myself think to hard about it. I am hopeful it will be received well, but I know from speaking with others about it, that this one may not be accepted. I try to keep that in the front of my mind, but I don't lie...my daydreams are filled with 1st novel success.
    I, too, look forward to growing and perfecting the craft in the coming years.

    Great post, lady!

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  6. My first novel was completed in 9th grade. And yes, it sucked monkey balls! As with any craft, writing requires years of honing your skills before you can produce anything worthy. I always compare writing to my martial arts, and how far I've come over the years.

    A little bit of emotional detachment is good as well. It helps you be a little more ruthless with your own work, and to give you the strength to "kill your darlings," so to speak.

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  7. Interesting point, Morgan. There is probably a distinction to be made here between excitement and confidence. I was probably more 'jazzed' about my earlier projects (like Mt. Dew fueled cheerleader jazzed...) With each successive project I've gotten more confident, but also more critical. Simply because I think I have a better understanding of what 'good' is and more perspective on how far or close I might be from that. That has probably toned my excitement some, although I'm always looking forward to my next writing session (probably more so now).

    I just want to be proud of something I write. Which, for me, means when the dust finally settles on revisions, betas, etc. I think, "This is the best I can do right now." I haven't reached that point with anything yet. I always think I can do a little better, and a little better, and so on. It'll come at some point. I think! : )

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  8. It's such a learning process, isn't it?

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  9. I remember getting all jittery with excitement when I'd sit down to write on my first ms. And yes, it's TOTAL CRAP and hiding in a box. I know I'm doing better on this go-round, and get excited about it when I flow into a new scene or connect ideas, but I'm still incredibly worried it's TOTAL CRAP. Maybe that's part of the exhilaration of writing--floating on excitement while hoping not to fall in the crap :)

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  10. I agree about feeling differently about other projects (second, third, and so on) than your first. My first lit the fire in me to write. My others have kept me writing, long after I realized I suck and I need a lot of work. LOL!

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  11. I think writing, as with anything anyone delves into in their lives, is a process of learning and perfecting. I believe we continue to learn all through our lives!

    So, of course the second, the third etc., will improve as you progress.

    I have the same feelings as you though with regard to my first book and although my second is still in the development stage, that spark of excitement attached to the first novel is just not the same!

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  12. Oh, by the way Morgan congrats on coming second in Rachel's Platform Building Campaign! You deserve it!

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  13. I was hopeful with my first book, but I think I knew deep down the writing wasn't at the level it needed to be. It's a great story, and maybe someday I'll rewrite it, but I'm grateful the first one didn't get picked up. If it hadn't, I wouldn't have challenged myself to do better, and my second book wouldn't be as great.

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  14. A brilliant post, Morgan!

    *scratches head* still on #1 though!
    Like an itch, it will have to be scratched, so hopefully one day I will be able to compare #1 and #2... I'll be sure to let you know though!

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  15. I haven't given up on my first book yet, and I'm writing my second now. But I know this will be my last round of queries for the first one. I have rewritten most of it...so does that count as a second novel =P

    I know my writing is much stronger now. I also know my flaws, crunch words and things I skip over. I look forward to finishing my second novel, leaving it for a month or so while I work on my third, then edit it (something I didn't do before).

    Blondie Out.

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  16. Beautiful post, Morgan.
    Maybe you don't feel as excited because, like you said, you're being a tad more clinical than for your first novel. So, at least at this stage, you might be focusing more on the writing technique. You're being more rational, in a manner of speaking. Makes sense?

    Me, it's going to take months and months of hard work. But I hope something nice will come out at the end. If not, I'm going to have a nice collection of memories for when I'm old and dilapidated!
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Morgan!

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  17. Similar to the difference between honeymoon and a ten year marriage. The love is there in both cases but it's a different relationship.

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  18. I've realised that a good idea, and a passion to write it down is not enough.

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  19. At this point in my writing life, I do think writing has become more of a job, and less of some starry-dream that I started out with. I still love it, but when I sit down at my computer, I am thinking more about getting it "right" than getting it "on paper". I want what I write to mean something more now, though at times that's even more frustrating!

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  20. As I'm still mostly on my first book, I'm not sure I can legitimately chime in on this. However, I will say that even though I've been working on #1 for a year, I still enjoy working and thinking of it more than any other project I've started... and there are a lot! I agree that as we get more into the business there can be a "loss of innocence" so to speak, but I think that as writers we have to be good at keeping our imaginations well in tune - as mentioned in your last post. If we lose that, we lose our edge. If we can keep it, and keep moving forward regardless of our inhibitions, we'll be in good shape.
    I hope that all made sense... I'm tired!

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  21. I think your first book is complete magic and I think a few years down the road you will want to go back and rewrite it the way it is meant to be.....but that's just me ;) Do you think you aren't as emotionally attached to this one?

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  22. I love your humor. And your profile rocks! I love that, too. I figure I'll be studying the craft of writing even when I'm on my death bed. So much to learn and so little time to practice! I love writing, too. It's my passion. You're so right about how we feel about our first story!

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  23. I think I'd written four or five before I found my stride - BUT let me add that I didn't spend hardly any time editing and perfecting, just writing.

    It took two major re-workings of The Next Door Boys to get it anywhere near publishable, and if I could write it now, it would turn out a lot better.

    I'd imagine that five years from now, I'll look back and think - man! I could have done that so much better! But I guess that's part of the point - it's all a process.

    Also. I LOVE your blog. It makes me happy.

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  24. The OTHER thing I was going to say is that some books i have this crazy emotional attachment to, and others I don't.

    The one my agents likes the best, and people went nuts over (Kate and Aidan) I love that story, but I don't LOVE that story. Not like Night Sky, and not like a few others I've done. Projects are funny that way.

    NOW I'm done leaving comments on this post.
    Probably.

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  25. I haven't attempted novels yet, even my NaNo efforts end up as novellas and a series of short stories, have accepted my limitations. Yet, everything we write is an upward curve in progression, the first ones being the ones we are most excited about. The passion doesn't decrease per se, just that life and insecurities dulls the edges a bit. Writing dies the day it becomes a mundane chore to be gotten through, somehow...till then write, polish and hope.
    Very well said.

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  26. hhmmm, I just finished my first 'completed ms', but this is my forth attempt at a book (so can it count as my- better educated, stronger story :). My other attempts fell by the waist side cause they just didn't have heart, or I couldn't find my voice.

    The story I just finish is my baby. It's a story that I am desperate to share, not for fame or money...I just love my characters and the journey they go through. I'm hoping an agent will feel the same.

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  27. Taking up writing ....yes....but not to the point of beating the head against the doors :-)

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  28. I think I looked at my first novel the same way! But now, a year later (after lots of other writing), I had a look at the beginning and thought ... Hmmmm.
    Lol ;)

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  29. The first time we go in plotting and planning and just having fun. When the next one rolls around we "think" more. We have to, it's part of the process. but it does shift the mindset a bit.

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  30. I know what you mean, although I don't think I can explain it better. I want to find a balance with my books. I want to have the same starry eyed love about them as my first, but I also want to look at it clinically and know that its done well and done right. Hopefully at some point I can do it ALL! lol

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  31. I am learning from you!
    good luck!!!

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  32. I wrote my first novel last July. (Yikes! hasn't even been a year!)

    But holy crap have I learned SO MUCH since then. Second novel was better. Third was even better. Fourth... ya, hoping it's better still.

    I'm talking writing here though. Story? I agree. They are just different. Do I fall in love with all my characters and their stories? Absolutely. And that first novel will always have that special spot in my heart. As does my second... and third... and... ya, you get it. :)

    When I write now, I write with that same starry-eyed passion, but I EDIT with the point of view that this is a job, and I will be successful dang it! Lol.

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  33. Hey. Red. Head. :)

    Dude... are you saying WIP2 is not as much fun as WIP1... OMGosh... stressing out here :)

    Hey, I'm sure you know.. but CONGRATS on placing 2nd in Rach's Challenge... Yahhy :)

    PS... is that you in the pic?

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  34. I'm on novel #4 now. I can honestly say I've gotten better with each project (at least I personally think so). This is the one that I'm planning on shopping around. I actually love this WIP so much more than my others, and with each book I write, I love the most recent one the most. Do I feel attached to my first one? Hmmmm... Yes and no. Looking back, I loved the idea, but now that I've progressed, I can see just how bad it really was, and let's just say, I'm not going to let anyone ever read it :)

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  35. I don't see why you couldn't get a Big Six publisher, Morgan. Can your friends hook you up? Sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know.

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  36. I have a special place in my heart for my 1st novel. I look at it as a learning tool, which I still tinker around with every now and then. And my 2nd I was/am SUPER passionate about. In my head this is the ONE! Well until last week when I fell in love with #3. LOL. I'm so glad I didn't know about the head banging before I started. It's part of the process, but not the fun part. I hope each novel I write I fall in love with in a new way.

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  37. Your first book is a high school crush. It's puppy love. After that, with your subsequent books, it's time to get serious about your relationships and develop a true love.

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  38. My first book was HORRIBLE! But I believed it was the best darn thing ever written. That was because I had the mindset of a 16-year-old which I was. And also, because it was the first true book I completed. (I feel that as if it still has potential, especially since I know understand editing.)

    Now with my second book. I've grasped the idea of true editing, and believe with all my heart that this is the book. I've come too far to give up on it. This one is my baby, and if it doesn't make it, then I'll truly be hitting my head off a wall.

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  39. Well said, Morgan! I'm on book three and still have so much to learn, but it's all worth it. :D

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  40. Hey Morgan! Can't contribute much on the subject since I'm still on book one, but I sorta know what you mean. The first 3 months into writing my book I was obsessed. I spent most of my time inside my head, staying up half the night writing and all I could think of was the book. It was crazy. Then, I crashed and hit a 4 month writers block. After that, the obsession part was gone (a good thing because I was able to put balance back into my life)but the motivation and drive to continue stayed :) .

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    Replies
    1. Also, ConGrats on your placement in the challenge! :D And is that you in the picture above?

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  41. My first novel was the best book ever written. My delusion was enabled by getting good, immediate feedback from a publisher. Now, years and projects later, that novel will never see the light of day. If it did, I'd be embarrassed.
    I do plan, however, to use the main characters and setting to tell a different story eventually (since they feature in the following novels).
    This, btw, is why self publishing is not an entirely good thing. New authors never even realize there are problems so won't grow as writers.

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  42. I love how your wrote that, "Just like any talent. Most of you know I was a hard-core ballerina for years. And it takes YEARS to develop the muscles and skills with careful training to achieve perfection." So true. You see dancer, musicians, actors, and writers even and they get better over time, over arduous hours of honing in their skills.

    That's the great thing about having talents is they can be improved. That's what I'm aiming for.

    I feel you on the second book thing. I love my first book and seem to have to revisit it all the time but the second book is scrumptious. I love seeing it come to life, especially because I've grown so much from the first book. And yes, I see it more of a businessy kind of thing but still love the adventure of writing.

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