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This One is for My Fellow Indie Authors

Stakes.


silver knife on tree
Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

No, I’m not talking about the silver kind needed to kill a vampire or werewolf.


I’m talking about that thing that makes your protagonist want to fight for that one thing they believe in the most. If you don’t do it right, it makes for a poor plotline.

This is something that I’ve recognized in my first publication. I dove headfirst into my novel, not knowing much about story structure and just wanted to write a story; which I did, but I now know better. I have learned a lot since publishing my first novel in 2018. So I am going to go back and make revisions to my first book, so it aligns better with my expanded knowledge of writing a book.


I’ve often seen from various sources that your first book will never be published. While that may be true, I think it’s because a writer learns a lot from one manuscript to the next. As an indie author, I still have full creative control over my publications, so why shouldn’t I go back and edit what I have? It doesn’t make me a lousy writer. In fact, it hones me because I’m willing to admit flaws in the original design. To me, it’s not any different from a craftsman looking at the first project ever carved from wood and knowing how he could improve upon his work.

craftsman at work
Photo by Danny Shives on Unsplash

I like to see myself as a craftsman, and I’m looking back at my novel, seeing how I can improve the stakes presented to my characters to improve the plotline. When writing the first time, I took the approach that everyone has a fractional bit of good in them (which I believe), but that doesn’t make for great storytelling. People are complicated. Our inner thoughts are so much more than the things we say. So, while I have a solid basis, I need to up the ante.


Conflict makes a story. If there is no conflict, there’s no story. If there is nothing to win or lose, nothing else matters. The consequences need to be real.

When I was first writing the book, I wanted it to reflect more grown up characters. I was craving an adult fantasy novel because I was sick of reading stories with awesome settings and plot, only to be disappointed by immature characters. In my young writer’s brain, I thought that meant people needed to be more stoic and less confrontational, but I know better now. Now I know adults can still have potent feelings, but they handle them differently than younger people.


One of the many things I am going to fix is my sudo enemies-to-lovers plot. I did not realize that’s what I was writing at the time because I kept telling myself, “I’m just writing a story.” Sadly, that is not a valid reason. Plot structures and tropes exist because I am not the first person to invent that wheel. It also boils down to characters overall being too nice and writing them without flaws.


I don’t want to see flaws in my characters anymore than I want to see flaws in myself.



book cover
Literary Analysis Book

To help me on my novel improvement journey, I did a study of other books that are popular. I picked up a copy of How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster, as well as a few other titles to help me dig deep into the novels I’m reading. I want to know what makes readers clamor for more. Recently, it seems a lot of it boils down to morally gray characters and sex, which I sincerely hope that’s not the end all. There is so much more to good storytelling than those two things.


I started this post talking about stakes, and I sort of brushed on the topic, but this became a post about why I’m revising my first novel. If you’ve read my book, tell me in the comments what you think about it.


Until next time, Fictionados!

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