Thursday, October 1, 2009


It's a challenge.

Deep down writing is a challenge. To have the discipline to sit down every day and write is a challenge to begin with.

But what good writers do is challenge themselves everyday. Tonight I attended a signing for Jason Pinter's newest The Fury and Reed Farrel Coleman's (with Ken Bruen) Tower. At the signing both talked about challenge themselves as they sat down to write these novels. To do something different.

As a writer, I respect that. One of the things that's always been important to me is doing something different each time out. To find at least one thing to focus on that was something I hadn't done before. With When One Man Dies I just wanted to complete and publish a novel. With The Evil that Men Do the challenge was to tell a story that had two linear narratives and amp up the speed and action.

Now I'm working on two novels. And each time out, I'm challenging myself more. The novel I've almost completed is a standalone. All the characters in it are brand new. I had to think differently about how to tell a story, who's eyes I'm telling it through. I had to make everything up from scratch. It was a pain in the butt, but I think I'm getting there.

Next I'm challenging myself by making the setting smaller, new characters, smaller stakes, but just as compelling. It's difficult to think about, and even harder to get down on paper. And you know something, that's just the way I like it.

I don't want to tell the same story twice. Each time I sit down to write I want to do something new. I want to come up with ideas and characters no one has seen before. It may not always work, but that's fine. I'd rather fall from the highest heights, that stand on the ground not even looking up.

Try Dennis Lehane. He challenged himself by telling new and different series novels for a while. Then he BLEW IT UP and wrote huge, gut wrenching standalones. And now the rumor is he's going back to the series. That's got to be a challenge, going back to characters nearly ten years later. I'm interested to see what he comes up with.

But what do you as the reader want to see? More of the same or something brandy dandy new?


Dana King said...

I used to hate to try something new, but I've been proven wrong often enough by favorite authors that I'm more concerned with the writer's past quality of work than I am about this book's contents. Good is good.

Unknown said...

the publishers would have you believe readers want more of the same when what they really want is good stories well told. Simple as that.