Back in my younger days, way back in the aughts, I used to love doling out writing advice on blogs. It was ego, I think, plus the fact that I wanted feedback on my advice from other writers. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
Most times I came off looking like an ass, I'd imagine.
Occasionally, I still write about what works for me, and hope other writers maybe gain something from it. Mostly, if you've followed my DSD posts, I've been whining about not writing.
But, I'm back, baby!
I'm writing something just for me. After nearly 6 months off, I'm about 5000 words into a new piece. I'm writing it because it's been in my head, like a loose end that needs to be tied.
And one piece of advice that I've always followed is jumping out in my mind.
When you have the chance, blow up the novel. I don't mean stick a literal explosion in it (though I love those), and I don't mean stop writing it, scrap it...
No, I mean, when you as the author come to a crossroads, where the book can go one of two ways... go the harder way. Kill the character you thought you'd follow for seven or eight novels.
Put another character through hell.
Don't worry about longevity. Because readers are savvy. They know when a characters not about to be killed. They know when you're taking the easy way out because you HAVE to get the character to another point in the story.
So, don't do that. Torture your characters, put them through hell. Series characters be damned.
If you're surprising yourself, you're surprising most readers.
And you want your readers saying "Holy shit" every time they turn the page. That's what keeps readers going: loving a character and wanting to see that character get fucked up.
(Readers are weird. They love a character, but they don't really want to see that character make dinner, go to bed, wake up, have coffee and then say "Wow, that was a good day.")
I'm at that tipping point now. I have an opportunity to twist this novel into something surprising.
And I'm going to do it.
Because if I'm saying "Holy shit" then so should the reader.