Pending no major calamities, Knight of Valor will be released at the end of this month. I started writing this book in January of 2015, so it’s taken over four years to write, edit, revise, rewrite, edit again… You get the picture.
During that time, I learned a lot about writing, both the craft aspect of it, but also what works for me. Here are a few things I learned.
You Get Better the More You Write
I was just getting back into writing in 2015 after a long sabbatical, and it was a challenge to write even the first draft. While writing may have a degree of talent, see George RR Martin or Nora Roberts, it also has a huge degree of practice. The more I write, the better I get at it. I have to believe this is also a part of why George RR Martin and Nora Roberts are so amazing. Certainly, I need to read, too. Studying craft books helps as well. But none of that replaces the work of sitting down and crafting a story.
Revising is Crucial
I need to revise. My first draft is far from perfect. So very far. It is mostly a sandbox I have shoveled sand into that becomes the rough lump of a story. Revising turns that lump into a sandcastle. Some stories take more drafts than others. Knight of Valor took more than twenty drafts. A big part of the revision process was making up for how rough the first draft really was. I was out of practice when I wrote it. More recent works have required seven or eight revisions. I almost felt bad about it. Then I came across this.
Take Only the Advice That Works for You – Ignore the Rest
Part of the reason this book had so many revisions was I took a lot of advice I shouldn’t have. More benign advice was to write in any order than piece those scenes together. Yeaaaah, no. Doesn’t work for me, and it created a lot more work in the revision process.
For example, I was also reading a lot of craft books on romance as I wrote this, and they were all touting the alpha male as really the only hero most romance readers wanted to read about. So I revised and changed the hero and made him a lot more alpha. But then I didn’t like him anymore, and that meant I didn’t like the story Knight of Valor became. So I revised it again, removing most of the edits I had added, then focusing on really showing who he was instead of what a craft book told me he should be.
Write Your Story
Which leads me into my last point: learning to trust myself to write my story. The one I want to tell. The one that reflects my characters. That can be a lot harder than it sounds, as I learned writing Knight of Valor. Doubt is a powerful force, especially when you are working on a story for years at a time. When there are so many things going on around you personally, professionally, and in the world. Sometimes it can seem foolish to question those who “know” what they’re doing. In writing Knight of Valor, I’m glad I did. Even though it took me all those revisions to do it.