Saturday, June 27, 2015

Twelve Years of Perspective - How You're Growing as a Writer Without Even Realizing It

The Death Row Complex is here!

In honor of launch day, I posted on my author blog the long, convoluted story of why this book took twelve years to release. I won't reiterate that story for the Murder Lab crowd, but what I would like to do is point something out: when I went back and looked at the book I was both horrified and thrilled. Horrified because I realized how cheesy the book was to begin with. Thrilled because I realized how much I have grown as an author in the last twelve years.

Here are a few things I found a ridiculous quantity of when re-reading Death Row for the first time in a long time:

1) Cliches galore
2) Extreme cheese
3) Painfully lengthy tangents that didn't bring anything to the story
4) Approximately 40,000 extra words
5) An entire character who needed to be deleted
6) Etc.

The funny thing is, I didn't even realize over the last twelve years that I was learning to recognize these things. I never took a class in de-cheese-ification or made a list of cliches to omit during editing. I think I just read a lot and learned what bothers me in a book. Or maybe I'm just growing up. Or maybe practice makes perfect. I don't know. But whatever the reason, I can tell you with certainty that The Death Row Complex in its final iteration is a much better book than it was twelve years ago. And that's worth a collective celebration for all of us, because there are a lot of us authors out there trying to get better.

Let me just tell you... you are getting better. You are.

I challenge the authors of the Murder Lab community to go back and try to dig something up that you wrote twelve years ago. What do you think of it? Is it awesome? Embarrassing? Or a great kernel of a story buried beneath a lot of bad writing? I'm inclined to think that whatever you love about it is what you were good at to begin with. What you hate about that story now is probably where you've improved.

Twelve years after writing the first draft of The Death Row Complex, I still loved the bones of the story. It was the writing that I was cringing at. So I'm inclined to think that my storytelling ability hasn't changed much over the last twelve years (whether that's good or bad remains to be seen...,) but I think my writing has gotten much better. And I'll take that... for now.

At long last, you may download the Kindle version of The Death Row Complex (discounted this month in honor of the launch!), order a paperback from Amazon, or purchase a signed copy from me. Finally.


  1. I feel your pain. Last year, I went back to a novel I'd written in 2008. I found decent characters and dialog, but a tension-free plot. I thought, "I can fix this...a little tweaking here, a few changes there..."

    I finally finished the first-draft rewrite last month. Every time I tried to fix something, it unraveled something else. The things I thought had worked didn't really. The new version keeps the title and a couple character names but is otherwise a completely new story. So much for that simple revision.

    Maybe the lesson is, let sleeping manuscripts lie.

  2. Lance - I had the same thing! A total house of cards. But I did get through it eventually and I'm glad I didn't let the sleeping manuscript lie. So keep at it!