As I think I’ve mentioned before, I made the first notes for Victor’s story in the fall of 2007. I even had about 10K written for possible scenes and took the time to outline the general idea of the show. Now, two years later, it’s so much easier for me to see how much I’ve grown as a writer since then.
I remember reading a review once (not on my own stories) where the reader could tell immediately the book was the author’s debut. I always wondered exactly what that meant. The book had been reviewed favorably, so that wasn’t a bad thing. I read the book myself and didn’t pick up on anything–but I was a young writer myself at the time.
It’s much easier to understand what that reviewer meant now when I’m going over my old notes and I realize how simple my characters were. The basic premise of the plot–a BDSM reality show with some unknown leak who might ruin the season–is the same. While the characters’ names remain, their motivations, personalities, and emotions are much deeper and real. I had no clue about Victor. No clue at all. I had him doing these delightfully vicious things with no idea why. He had no internal turmoil. Shiloh was a basic stereotypical submissive all the time. There were no nuances to her personality. The bad guy (who I’m changing to be someone else, now) was also basic, stereotypical silliness.
Now I know that if I’d sat down two years ago and wrote out the book for real, that it would have been better than these bare bones. I would have dug deeper. But I find it interesting that my first “try” at writing notes was so basic. I was writing what could have been a risky, edgy book with vanilla characters.
Let me tell you, Victor sure isn’t vanilla.
One last point that I realized after reading another debut book a few weeks ago. For the most part, I enjoyed it. The worldbuilding was great. The plot was one I’ve always been tempted to write myself (and yeah, I have a few stunted starts around that basic premise somewhere in the depths of my files). The writing was good. But in the end, the book left me yearning for something…more. Really, it came down to a single decision for the protagonist: would she stay with the hero or not. She wavered between angst and more angst for chapters. Duty, responsibility, duty, we’re too different, I can’t have him even though I want him. And then, in the final pages, she makes a choice — with another character’s help — and races back to her lover’s arms.
[And yes, I know I’m guilty of this myself. Shannari does pretty much the same duty vs. love angsting in The Rose of Shanhasson, my first book ever. See my point?]
Great. HEA, right? But I couldn’t help but wish those 100-200 pages of passive angst and moaning woe is me had been tossed out. The story I would have liked to read would be: I want this man, and I’m keeping him. Even if I have to wage war to do so.
Which I’m pretty sure will be the basis for my next new project. *winks*