Monday, 24 June 2013

Aim for the best you can do, not literary perfection

One thing we get asked often is whether Dead on Demand is the best book we could ever write.

We bloody hope not.

While we loved writing Dead on Demand, and it's done incredibly well for us, it was our first book. In fact, as those who were following throughout the challenge last year know, it was our first work of fiction.

Take two completely inexperienced authors, add in a very short deadline (90 days including all the publishing elements) and you can be pretty sure it's not the best book ever written.

What it is, is the best book we could write at the time and within the constraints imposed. And that ladies and gents is all anyone can ever ask. If we write to the best of our ability, use the best editors & artists we have access to, complete all the due diligence steps like professional proofreading and multiple rounds of editing then the story is done.

Some people won't like it. But if we're after a universally popular book then we'll be waiting a very long time. Some stuff, like typographical errors and basic grammar, are objective. Some is subjective.

It's like cooking a chilli. Some people say it is too hot. Some say it's too mild. As long as there isn't a huge preponderance in either group, the chilli is good just the way it is.

So when you're a bit stuck over a phrase, or a research point, just press on. Write the best you can at the time then have it properly edited. Nothing is set in stone until publication.

And don't use research as an excuse. If you don't know something, add an @ (which is rarely used elsewhere so can easily be found by ctrl f), and come back to it at the end of draft one. Doing all the research tidy ups at once is much more efficient than going online to search each point in turn. If you're anything like me, you'll end up 20 Wikipedia pages away on something you never needed to find out about. Some stuff will be integral to the plot, but research that stuff (like forensics, entomology, psychology etc) before you start to avoid having to rewrite in light of your research.

Don't write harder, write smarter. Keep your system linear, and avoid going in circles. Give yourself deadlines for every stage, commit to them publicly so you are accountable then get on and do it.

Concept--> Outline--> Research ---> First Draft ---> Minor Research Points --> Alpha Read --->Revise --->Pro Edit ---> Revise ---> Pro Edit ---> Revise --->Beta Read ---> Revise ---> Proof(s)

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