Backsliding Once You’re Popular

AlPhilipson100x90by Al Philipson

Authors who sell their first book usually do it because they have:

  1. Spent a long time learning to write compelling prose
  2. Learned their craft through practice and feedback (workshops)
  3. Finally produced a work that was both compelling and obeyed the “rules” (fast start, attention to point of view, minimum or no “info dumps”, story lines that are interesting, characterization, etc.)

After a couple of successful novels, authors begin to think they “have it made” and start to get sloppy.

New books start with long information dumps and stage setting. Characters are either borrowed from previous books or poorly developed. The author starts “head hopping” from one character viewpoint to another within a scene.

In his later works, Robert Heinlein consistently followed all the rules, but forgot how to end his stories. All of his stories ended in the same place, an alternate dimension where one of his major secondary characters lived and hosted inter-dimensional travelers, while engaging in an ongoing struggle with a nebulous cabal of “bad guys”.

When you “make it” and acquire a loyal following of readers along with the respect of publishers and your peers, don’t start disappointing them. Get better instead of backsliding.

Always give your readers your very best.


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