A really good thread on writing from Chuck Wendig.
Chuck is right. It gets harder.
We are on novel… 10 KD + 1 Andrea + 4 Edge + 4 Innkeeper + 3 Hidden Legacy + 1 Hugh = 23. On novel #24. Yay. And it’s difficult because there is now all this pressure to top yourself and to deliver.
We just had to backtrack and rewrite an action scene – on which we will be working once I finish this post – and it will require a consistency edit to make sure everything after the fight scene lines up. It wasn’t that the previous fight scene was bad. It just that it wasn’t spectacular and it had to be spectacular, because it’s Hidden Legacy and everything is over the top.
Turning off your inner editor is becoming harder and harder, but one can’t edit and write at the same time. 🙂
Amanda P says
Good luck ?
I’m sure you’ll be able to manage writing spectacular scenes! Here with the rest of the Book Devouring Horde for moral support 😀
The Book Devouring Horde is my new favorite 😀
Christina S says
Many many plus ones to that!
Waiting for the next even-more-wonderful book.
But, no pressure.
Maria R. says
Ooo, you are a long distance, virtual mind reader! And no pressure because the wait make the devouring all the better ?
Yuki Fuji says
Hahaha! “No Pressure”. R-I-GH-T…
Heather Langston says
You write amazing stories and you’re an inspiration to this aspiring writer ?
Carysa Locke says
I only have two books, a novella and a short out right now, and I feel this so hard. I’m working on the third book in my main series, and I just had to cut like 10k words because, like you said, it wasn’t spectacular. This is the book that really ups the ante, brings in the actual villain more (or, badass people who serve her, anyway) and puts the heroes through some Really Bad Stuff. I reread what I’d written of the last few chapters and went “nope, there isn’t ENOUGH. Not enough tension, not enough badassery, not enough amazing”. So, it’s cut. It’s very hard watching my word count drop, but if it makes the book better, it will be worth it.
But we know that all that natural talent and awesomeness shines through everytime 🙂
On a different note here is a photo of the chocolate sheep I cast. Not perfect, a few small air bubbles and the horns didn’t cast complete but I still like it. Next one I do I’ll stamp it with my skull and cross bones brass stamp on the bottom and have a pirate sheep even if its baaad.
Oh! And it all makes sense now!
(I saw this at the top of the page and was all blearily thinking “But it’s the year of the pig….!” – some combination of the timing and the styling had be confused, in a nap addled state.)
Aaaaahhh!!! No, no not the cute puns!!! So baaad of ewe! Heeheehee!
Lenore A. Villa says
Is that a relation of Shaun the Sheep?
I call Relation so now I have a relationsheep
Thank you for all you do to make my reading experience sooo enjoyable. I have all 23 books plus the shorts. I will wait for #24.
P.S. I love the way Edge and Innkeeper are mixing together. The Edge series was my introduction to your writing and I loved it.
I read the Innkeeper books before the Edge. George, Jack, Sophie, and Gaston as kids was the best unexpected treat. Then, going back to read their bits in Innkeeper was an even bigger delight.
I read the Edge books first also before reading KD. When Edge characters appeared in Innkeeper I was thrilled ?
If it’s any comfort, I read your writing because it’s original, funny, and well-written. Your characters are real people to me and I love escaping into your stories. Thank you for writing!
Bev Hill says
I want to + this and expand upon it. The most remarkable thing about the IA oeuvre is not, imho, the “bad-assery” but the characters. There are few other writers who can, after developing beloved characters for 10 books, create NEW characters who are equally compelling. I was blown away by Iron and Magic because Hugh and Elara became as intriguing and important to me as Kate and Curran. That’s not an easy thing to do. Same with the Hidden Legacy series: I did not expect to be as interested in Catalina as a character after the sheer brilliance of Nevada and Rogan. Silly me. I loved how her character developed in the novella from mildly interesting kid sister to Real Person with a Backstory and a Future. Amazing!
For me, it is the characters that make the story. The action is mostly a vehicle for character development. But action without character development, or with superficial character development, is not going to hold my interest. That’s why algorithmic recommendations are so frustrating. Similarity of characteristics in no way guarantees that a story possesses the “heart” of great characters. So many books recommended “for fans of Ilona Andrews” fall short because of this. At least, for me.
I think what makes it harder and harder to write this kind of book is that it requires so much of the writer’s soul. It cannot be easy to keep coming up with different characters—different lives— that share the characteristics that make them love able, yet emerge as distinct and unique. When I try to contemplate the imagination able to do this, I feel like I’m staring into the universe. My own imagination fails. I can only be humbly grateful that authors with this gift persist.
You put your finger right on the heart of what makes a great story!
+1 Well said, and I agree with it all. Character development is so important, even in a book full of action, and so many “for fans of Ilona Andrews” recommendations don’t live up to my expectations…
Yuki Fuji says
+1 Extremely well said. I first started reading IA in the very early 2000’s. I was into paperbacks then and I just loved the title “Magic Bites” because you cannot tell from the synopsis if it means literally or figuratively.
Sending good vibes your way! I guess my mama was right nothing good or worth having is ever easy.
I’ve gotta say I am skeptical. Just like with athletes who say winning the major/championship for the third time feels just as amazing as the first. My money is on recency bias.
Kind of like childbirth?
You say that a scene was not spectacular enough, but your not-so-spectacular is so many light years above most author’s spectacular(*) that we would still be left in awe.
*It’s hard to top Dante and Shakespeare, IMO; their spectacular is still the measure of wordplay to me.
It may be hard, but I hope you guys get that that’s what makes you such amazing writers. You see a difficulty and know that you have to surpass it in order to level up and you do it every single time. That’s why you are so loved by the BDH.
cheryl z says
I have seen many of my favorite authors topple into mediocracy; their series become formulaic, and dull. One of my former favs has become preachy and arrogant and yet still sticks to the same world she created. Your books have maintained their vigor because your characters maintain their authenticity. Your world building, plots are awesome, but the heart of your books are your complex characters who have flaws, make mistakes and learn from them, who raise above their limitations and give us hope. You gave Curran and Kate their happy ending and walked away from a wildly successful series because it was time. I can’t wait to read about other characters in their world, Julie and Derek, Ascanio, and Auntie Erra, so their world lives on.
I love to write but the only thing I have ever been happy with is a children’s story that will never be published so I am in awe of what you do. I don’t care how long it takes for you to publish a book, I wait for them joyously.
Liv W says
Amy Ann says
What she said +1 million. You all are amazing and I hope you don’t let your inner critics drive you to stress and overwork trying to achieve perfection. Remember to find some joy in your work because you bring joy to so many.
this… you can tell when an author starts writing for contracts and $$$ instead of love of the worlds they created.
One of the things I respect about IA is they ended things when they feel they are done.
THIS!! OMG, THIS!!!
When a series is so. damned. dead. but there’s yet another book.
KD DID end, and it ended so incredibly well.
I do understand a bit, though. I see motifs, descriptions, and even sentences used across KD, The Edge, and HL. But even Neil Gaiman (I loved his stuff from early Sandman, BEFORE he was a Fantasy Rock Star), reuses lines. As does Patricia McKillip. And those are two of my very faves who haven’t started writing purely for $$ yet.
Not that you SHOULD write for free. The rent has to be paid, and people must eat. I think it’s better to say authors who have lost their ideas. And publishers who push and push for more easy sales instead of quality books.
Because it’s not all the author’s fault. If, for example, people had stopped reading the Pern books when they lost all their edge and therefore their insight into human nature, the series would not have degenerated to the point it did, and her grandchildren would be writing their own books instead of continuing to drag the past-dead-reaching -skeletonized horse across the desert.
I have no insights about how to keep it fresh and new, since I have yet to finish Chapter One of my bestselling Nebula Award Winner. But so far, you’re doing just fine.
Reusing lines happens because we are trying to write the best description possible and since we had already found a perfect description once, the brain conveniently tosses it in. Most writers have no idea they’re doing it. That’s what the editors are for. 🙂
barbara stewart says
OOh I do. The one thing you rarely see in books is dealing with the aftermath. Would like to see what kind of jobs dragons are going to be doing with thread gone. Whether it will be a police force, taxi, cargo or something else. Have the small ones come back.
I like picturing scenes in the book and one that gave me the giggles (still does) is when the ferrets enter the building, and Rogan calls his team and tells them to put pressure sensors in the dryer vents.
I agree! As long you keep the story lines with a good progression and fill them with interesting characters with real emotions and motivations, then they’re already spectacular to me. That fight scene does not have to be spectacular, just not gratuitous. I can get wrapped up in your books and that’s pretty much my deciding factor. Thanks for so much fun and don’t be so hard on yourselves!
I have to tag on to this post. The line “I can get wrapped up in your books and that’s pretty much my deciding factor.” Oh yes. If I’m not wanting to continue, ‘just a few more minutes’, and I really, really want to know more about this character, than it’s not a ‘close to my heart’ book. None of your books have failed this test. Rereads are into the dozens. I know I’m not alone here. As I said before, the journey is just so much fun!! Thank you, again.
Cheryl M says
Thank you for all the hard work, and the time taken to update us, your fans. It is truly appreciated. May you enjoy a nice, relaxing evening when you have this scene rewritten.
I wish creating your books wasn’t so hard on you. But, I know that’s part of it. If you whizzed on through, and didn’t struggle, I feel certain they would be lesser books. I don’t see you ever releasing a less than spectacular book. I don’t mean to add to the pressure, the expectations, but, we are all caught up. I’m meaning in your stories and the characters’ journeys. It’s just so much fun to ride along.
Take a breath. Another. You will get there.
Yuki Fuji says
I’d personally like to thank you for each and every one of them! I am glad you have this inner editor and it works the way it does because while I follow many authors you two are one of the few I read because the books are still great and not because I hope that the next one might be as good as the old ones again! Chapeau!
? Hat? What am I missing here?
Erika C says
It is something the French say to show appreciation for someone’s work. I think of it as tipping one’s hat in salute.
Ah. Got it.
Alex R. says
Not sure if it’s a French thing, but ballet dancers say “Merde” to wish each other good luck.
Because “break a leg” is somewhat self defeating.
I say it every time – we’ll wait. Mainly because you two always make the extra time worth it. We know how hard ya’ll work, that facts are checked (or explained if the world calls for a change) and research is always meticulous in the Andrews household. And “good enough” never is.
But the main reason we love the books is that the people in them are real for as long as we’re reading (and a bit longer if we are really into the story). They’re good or bad folks that we want to know and know about.
Thank you for that.
I can’t promise to wait PATIENTLY, but Ilona and Gordon will never see me doing the OMG MORE dance when I’ve finished their book for the third time on release day. IOW, my impatience will not somehow transmit to the Gordons’ unless I come here and scream. Which I won’t do. Squee, yes. Scream, no.
If it’s any consolation, I’ve always felt my greatest sense of accomplishment when I’ve completed something difficult. When it’s too easy, it often doesn’t mean as much to me.
My sister has a “1/3 Law” for job satisfaction – it should on average include 1/3 major challenges, 1/3 minor challenges and 1/3 boring & repetitious. This seems to hold true for me.
Hope you’ll feel a major sense of accomplishment when you’re finished and get to go celebrate. (Maybe some yarn and something special for Gordon.) It will feel well earned.
This is why you all are such wonderful writers. You never mail it in, every book is awesome, better than the one before.
And I am realizing the pressure that puts on you all. So don’t worry about it, whatever you publish will be fine, I’m sure.
Well, that’s not correct either. I’ll just shut up now and go reread the Edge series over here in the corner.
Yuki Fuji says
I have faith. Even better- I have patience. Take your time. Knit something.
Suzann Schmid says
Wish I could make it easier, but life doesn’t work that way. Everyone has a purpose and a talent or talents. You guys were gifted writing and creativity. May you always get enough joy from your creations to continue on the writing path. Being an Author Lord is not as easy as many think. You just make it look that way. Take care of each other and reward yourselves.
Good luck, and thank you for all of the hard work and effort!
Having read it all over and over quality comfort food done cha know the one constantly impressive bit of work I notice is how everything hangs together. I cannot imagine how you all keep so many balls in the air and still the them all together to create fabulous bouquets. Wonderful.
This is actually very encouraging, as I’m also a writer. Whether technical or fiction, or whatever form – success just raises the bar. Does NOT make life that much easier! Thx! – A.
I’ve just reread the Edge series again and I still love the books. You don’t have to top yourself. You and your stories are already loved by so many people. If your new stories would be on the same great level of writing that you have shown before, I would be perfectly happy. You are perfect as you are, because of your original style, because you are yourselves. So take care of yourselves and don’t let the pressure swallow you up.
And also: You are already #1 New York times bestselling author. How much better do you want to be? Your readers have to be able to leave the books long enough to go to work(in order to get money for more books). There has to be a maximum of how great the reading experience can get. 😉
Eh, most good things worth doing take time and effort! So, as part of the BDH, I am content to subscribe to the homily that “good things come to those who wait”. You all are hella good authors(!), so, waiting, patiently and happily…cuz there’s gonna BE another book. 🙂
if you count every two novellas as a book the total increases. The kinsman books, Silver Shark and Blade seem like part of the total.
Yep, like your books! That whole unicorn-on-a-napalm-bender scene really made me laugh! 🙂 Waiting on the Texas royals book, sounds like another entertaining one….
Melissa B says
I also really like your Dawn of DAE series!! I love how you have put so much personality in all your characters including the precious Colby. I love how he can say everything in just a word or two and I love it when he says “Mommy”. Oliver is a cute new character as well. Both your efforts and Ilona Andrews efforts are so appreciated and loved. Cheers!
Melissa B says
Oh my goodness I love the story about Colby. Hey amazon only lists the first two books for the series. Where can I find the other four? I feel stupid to ask that and Ilona do you mind that I’ve asked? If it’s not ok that’s fine and please pass my email into Ms Blain if possible so she can email me. Thanks!
Leanne Ridley says
A few small glitches don’t hurt a book if the overall story and characters are engaging (trust this nitpicky Virgo LOL). Don’t sweat the small stuff TOO much or you’ll drive yourself nuts, then you won’t be able to write and I’ll have to go into mourning 🙁 (BTW, both Null & Void and The Huntress are my go-to standbys from the Royal States series, for when I’m waiting for other books to be released)
RJ Blain says
Apparently, making a funny face ate my comment in amusing ways. I swear I’m not drunk!
Soooo, what I was trying to say before I somehow broke my comment was that Huntress was such a weird book to write but it’s one of my favorite because the characters surprised me at every turn. It was really a book full of discoveries for me.
I’ll try not to worry about the small stuff toooo much, but I will try to make sure they’re all fixed before the books get into the wilds. 🙂
Yuki Fuji says
Vicki Johnson says
I love your books and I hope you are able to write many more. I think it would be amazing to find out what happened to Dina’s parents or even maybe more with George and Jack.
It must be tough to get action scenes done right so that all the pieces feel like they are in the right places when done. Good Luck!
Thank you for all the hard work. My imagination appreciates the boost your books give it.
Love your work. Read it over and over when I need cheering up. Love that you care enough to rewrite to make it better. Selfishly, I hope that you continue for many, many years to come, no matter the challenges, but what you’ve already done is already more of a contribution to good in the world than most people manage…
Hazel Fitzgibbon says
The consistent quality of your writing is astounding. There are very few writers who can make me take a short intake of breath with a plot line, who can make me drop my jaw with amazement at a description or who can elicit sympathy for their characters as you do. Whatever you are doing, you are doing it correctly. X
Patricia Schlorke says
No matter what you and Gordon write it’s good. Snippets, novellas, full books, even the “crap” writing you posted a while back is all good. 🙂 This is why the BDH loves all your writing.
I’m sorry it’s harder to write with each book. Please don’t burn out. Just remember, there are other authors who take at least a year to write one book.
+1. Or three, in the case of Richard Morgan. And let’s not even discuss George RR Martin and oh. my. god. we’ve been waiting HOW LONG for Peace Talks???
So we would wait much longer than 3-6 months between books. That’s just indulging us.
Alex R. says
Two words: Patrick Rothfuss.
I’ve give up on there ever being a book 3.
d LM a says
Of Whine & Pigs a short story of a duo, their craft, and the best thing ever.
Meaning NO disrespect…
In your craft you create blue ribbon county fair award winning fried chicken (pie, bbq, your choice)
Atmospheric pressure affects the flour,as do spices, the feed of the chicken, the oil fried in & the temperature fried at, et al & on & on
To coin a phrase, you all put your foot ? up in your cooking!
And we love chowing down on your grub.
You all keep on cooking and adjusting while we all wipe the drool from our lips anticipating the next batch you will deliver.
Thanks for murbling at us, thanks for the seasoning and the attention to the finicky stuff that makes our reading so satisfying.
Best things in life are worth waiting for… 🙂
Thank you for your writing! A skill I’ve not acquired so I’ll just stick to reading. But I have done A LOT of reading and enjoy your work immensely. When times get tough I open one of your books and, for a bit, I can forget. Thank you for that. ??
Expectations, including the self-inflicted ones, can create a lot of stress! The higher they are, the harder, so please try to not put so much pressure on yourselves! I have seen some series where it seemed like each book had to have more sex, more deaths, more of whatever like the author has to outdo themselves, but loses something along the way. It isn’t how big the battle, but portraying it well. It often boils down to the little things before, during and after that makes it good.
Don’t ever lose the joy, fun, creativity and all the things that have made your books so good and both of you such good authors. Being hyper critical, especially while writing could make it more of an effort and struggle! It is sad when compliments, instead of bringing happiness and satisfaction, causes more stress, fears, etc., not wanting to disappoint, fail, or not meeting expectations that bring such harsh demands that it becomes unrealistic and unhealthy… not saying you are, but it happens with a lot of people who are successful… some who even commit suicide because they can’t deal with the stress and fear of failing to meet high expectations! We can be our own worst critics and task masters and others, who are only trying to encourage, may inadvertently be pouring fuel on the inner fire and adding even more pressure!
Sorry… some of this is a result of videos about teenage depression and suicide… even met one of my teenage granddaughter’s friends who seemed to have everything going for him… he was doing great at school, had many friends, well liked by many, involved in many things… had so much going for him and he committed suicide! A real tragedy! The videos showed star athletes and people who seemed to have everything going for them not being able to deal with the stress of success that often seems to link with a fear of failing.
Sometimes it is good to get away from something so it can be seen with fresh eyes which makes it easier to see where and what things may, or may not, need to be changed, show to a beta reader who is honest about things if too deeply mired in a scene or move on and go back at another time to help things fall into place or get good ideas. If it’s too much, maybe cut down on your schedule so you are not overwhelmed with having to write so many different things.
I hope everything works out whatever you do and know many of us are patient, understanding and are rooting for you! We devour books, not authors, so, at least, you are not dealing with cannibals! You may be dealing with a zombie soon, though, if I don’t go to bed right now!
Leanne Ridley says
Your care and dedication to crafting a fine tale are greatly appreciated – witness the size of the Book Devouring Horde as proof! However, don’t stress yourself out so much, and risk wrecking your health in the process. Most of us are *somewhat* patient and willing to wait for you to deem the story ready according to YOUR measure of what’s appropriate 🙂
Love your work. Have all release dates noted on my calendar so I don’t miss anything.
Melissa B says
Whenever you get back to Colby and Oliver that’s fine… I love how Oliver likes to bang on his fish tank wall and squirt his ink too. Still wonder if he is a “plant” though in her life. Take care of your self! Cheers
You guys have done a fabulous job. I just reread the KD series. I’ve read a ton of series, and I have to say, you two are the best I’ve ever seen at creating (1) a cohesive story arc from book to book that (2) still manages to be contained, complete stories from book to book but (3) maintains the character development established in prior books. It’s so refreshing. It can’t be easy, because almost no one manages it. Most authors start rehashing character development arcs that were done in prior books, and the ultimate goal for the series becomes like a horizon, always receding into the distance. You two are absolutely superb. Good work.
I have nothing useful to add to this convo since I’m not a successful author and you guys, imo, are two of the bests out there so obvs you guys know what you’re doing.
Anyway, so we’re considering moving out of our crazy red state back to the east coast. Politics aside, my mom just informed us that she plans on living out her twilight years with us and this state just isn’t suitable for her (no mass transit, next to non existent Chinese community). I’m looking at houses online and saving the decent ones in our price range with good schools, you know the deal…
I found the perfect new home for us. Excellent school rating, privacy in the yard, a pool with a cabana, enough rooms for everyone including our sisters when they visit, a finished basement… Then, for the hell of it, I decided to check the crime section….
To quote Catalina, “all my wuts”
Sorry, the image was unclear. Basically, 3 pages of this. And in the third page, am added descriptor “girl”.
Wow. Just curious, what state are you leaving and what city are you wanting to move to that has the three pages of crimes listed? I couldn’t make the clip big enough to read much other than ASSAULT, ASSAULT, WEAPON, ASSAULT.
Steve Lucas says
I for one am thankful your still pushing through and writing for us mostly, ungrateful book addicts. 🙂
I keep print versions and most audio versions of all your novels to revisit annually. I’m sorry it gets harder so I now understand why Kate Daniels had to end.
Thank you for your exceptional work I love you and your novels!
Julie F. says
That is one of my single biggest challenges (along with still believing I’m some sort of fraud who has no business or right to even try something this huge), turning off the editor. It’s not that I’m a grammar Nazi or even think of myself as a perfectionist. It’s that there remains this stubborn belief deep inside of me that if I was meant to do this, it would be easier. That every word would be golden right on the first try. It’s dumb, I know, and a huge disservice to those who work so hard for that perfection, but I just can’t seem to get past it. Oddly enough, hearing the words from you, writers who sit at the peak of everything I admire and respect about the craft, helps a bit.
Drop Bears Rule says
Those who can do. Those who can’t read.
Your books stand the test of re-reads…..multiple re-reads (think I’m on the fourth now for KD and the 5th N and R. Won’t even talk about Edge and IK)
Love everything you talented people produce and appreciate your time and effort.
Your dedication to your craft brings happiness (and hopefully much cash for mediaeval doors and moats for you) to a LOT of people.
Create on, and know that I’m introducing you to my daughters (both part of the book devouring hordes) when they get a bit older.
30 book a month reader says
You don’t have to top yourselves. Just tell your story and have fun doing it. Your average is better than most people’s best
I’m not sure where to post this, but ….
On the Edge is a Deal of the Day (Monday 4th) on Amazon UK for 99p
All the best!! Sends out virtual encouraging cheers!
You’re becoming more intransigent with your writing ? Is that it ? ?
In any case, we trust you and we love you, good luck, take your time the BDH will wait for you ?
Sending positive vibes your way ~~~
Yuki Fuji says
I love her books too! I’ve been mostly mesmerized by the “Magical Romance Comedy (With A Body Count)”. I love this series. Keep up the great work R.J. Blaine!