The best part about being a writer is that the more we write, the better we will get at it. Each novel will teach us more, let us practice, and give us a chance to hone our craft. I started writing because I love stories. I didn't even start with novels. Like a number of authors, I wrote personal short stories, and soon moved to fan-fiction.
I still have those stories online. I've debated deleting them. Frankly, as far as writing goes, they're pretty terrible. I can say that now, and easily compare them to the books I'm writing and have written. I only left them online because people actually seem to enjoy them.
I can even say my first book, Runaway Magic, is a debut novel, with all the normal things that go along with being a first actual novel. I'm proud of the story and characters, even as I can look back and know what I would do differently this time. I won't rewrite it, though, because it represents a moment in my writing career. My second novel, an erotica/romance under another pen name, shows more polish than my first novel. My second Forest Guardians book was even more polished than the first two books.
What will my third book look like? I'm still early in my writing career, so I can't fully say for sure, but I get better at using words and describing, and placing readers in the story. I can introduce more complex situations, always remembering my target is the Young Adult readers. I firmly think they are intelligent and capable individuals and I should never dumb down a book, but I'll be more aware of my sentence structure with a book for a younger reader than for a romance/erotica book.
What will my books look like 20 books from now, or 20 years from now? I hope I'll be a great writer by then. I'll still look back fondly on my earliest books. I have a whiteboard above my writing desk with notes and more on it, but in the middle I have the quote "write the book you want to read." After all, that's why I started writing. I want to go on adventures. I want to visit worlds of magic and mayhem, facing desperate odds and saving the world. I want magic swords and ponies and forests and wide open spaces, and more.
There are many authors I enjoy reading who have been writing a while. Some of them, I love their later books, when they got more skilled. Others, I prefer their earlier works. One thing I really enjoy now is finding other independent authors like myself and delving into their works. So far I have enjoyed a few books that were debut novels. I've only begun reading heavily again. Were their novels perfect? No, and neither was my book. But they are great, with fresh ideas and adventures for me to explore.
Always keep practicing writing. I still write short scenes and stories, just for fun and practice. I even include these stories in my newsletter for fans of my Forest Guardian series, and they're available online for my fan-fiction audience as well. I also write personal stories where I can explore topics and emotions I don't want to share with anyone. Everything I write is practice for my future books.
I'll always be grateful for the experience of writing Runaway Magic, my first full length novel ever. I learned to plot. I started learning how to bring people into stories with my words. I created a world and people to live in it. Sure, I love Facing the Fire, possibly more. Having written a novel once, I could relax a little and focus on the fun. I'm enjoying the third Forest Guardians book even more, now that I have a better feel for writing novels. All those pesky things like dialogue tags and descriptors come more easily with each book. They get less clunky and easier to do well.
Still, even as I look back at Runaway Magic, and my early fan-fictions really, those early stories showed me how to write and gave me practice. I can love them for what they are, part of my own writing adventure, and the start of it all. If Aili hadn't left home and run away, I wouldn't be on book three already, approaching the start of its final draft.
Love your early books. Honour them. They help make you the author you will become. Readers, those early books were how your favourite books developed into stories you adore. We should all celebrate the beginnings of any big adventure.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.