Thursday, 5 June 2014

How to Keep Your Writing Challenging


What? Isn't writing challenging enough? Well of course it is, but after a time it gets easier. If you keep writing in the style and substance of what you've written before, you're giving yourself over to that greatest enemy of writers--laziness. You don't want to write a book just like the last book. It's too easy and not enough fun.

And sooner or later your readers will notice.

I try to push myself with each new project. Book One of Trench Raiders, my upcoming World War One series, is a real challenge for me right now because I'm trying to capture early twentieth century British English in all its regional and class complexity. Good thing I have two English beta readers, both history buffs!

Book Two of my Toxic World series, Refugees from the Righteous Horde, is going through edits and I'm already thinking about Book Three. One of the point-of-view characters is going to be Pablo from the first two books. He's ten. I've never written from a child's POV before. I have no idea how I'm going to do it. I guess I'll find out when I start.

For the writers reading this, how do you keep your writing challenging?


Image of Rembrandt's painting The Scholar courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This has nothing to do with anything, I just like it. Do you think I'd look good in that collar?

5 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I stayed with space opera, which is easy. But I tackled a new series, new characters, and a situation that I had no idea how to describe. Time will tell if I did it right...

Sioux said...

No, Sean. I do NOT think you'd look good in that collar. (What kind of expression is on Rembrandt's face? Dismay? Embarrassment?)

I think trying out different genres (occasionally) and juggling several different projects (always) helps keep the writing challenging.

Are you hanging around some kids that age to help get the POV genuine?

Good luck. I am looking forward to your second book (Radio Hope was so good). Get busy on those edits. ;)

Tony Laplume said...

I try not to write the same book twice. Every writer has their favorite themes and/or scenarios, and keen readers will recognize that. But the actual story ought to take its own shape, whatever that means.

D.G. Hudson said...

No, Sean, no one looks good in those collars. The people wearing them must have to avoid the stiff edges (they appear to be starched unmercifully). I remember Elizabeth I wearing those in many a photo.

I keep trying to challenge myself in my writing, from scifi to alternate history and I have been doing short writing lately (see WEP tab on my blog). One thing that makes a difference in writing from a child's pov is that the environment will have an effect on how quickly a child will 'grow up', this affects how they talk and understand.
Good luck; happy writing, Sean!

Sean McLachlan said...

Sioux: I have a precocious eight-year-old son and his friends to "research".

D.G.: Yeah,I noticed you're busy. One of the amazing things that I've noticed in my travels is that in war-ravaged and poor areas, kids are much more grown up in some ways, but stay kids. That's one of the things that makes Pablo a compelling character. Communicating that to the reader is the tricky bit.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.