I’ve been very busy over the last year or so, working on the fantasy novel that I’ve wanted to write since high school. Some of it is still recognizable from its original incarnation, and some has changed greatly. But that’s to be expected: as I’ve grown more experienced, my characters have grown richer and more complex.
I have also spent a lot of time researching the publishing industry and continue to read what I can in the genre. I have loved the Kindle–it is so rewarding to have a book “magically” appear to be read. And yet…published books are different than when I last sat through creative writing classes. No, it’s not the format. Clearly, that’s changed.
What I’m speaking of here is the lack of….well, this will sound odd in a piece about speculative fiction, but it’s the lack of reality. What do I mean? The lack of world building and the escapism factor. When I visit Middle Earth, I see the Ring. I feel Frodo’s pain. Thank you, J.R.R. Tolkien. With this in mind, every word I commit to the page in my novel, I try to see it as a reader might. Is the food so real they thought they caught a whiff? Do the people seem like someone they’d want to meet? Someone they would fear and cross the narrow, crooked street to avoid?
Silly, I suppose. And yet, this is what drives me as I keep working through. I have 80 pages right now. Are they good enough? Do they sing? Will a reader groan in sympathy when the protagonist suffers a disappointment? Cheer when they win a victory, no matter how minor?
Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can, once formatted, release my opus to the world. For a small fee, they can download it instantly to their Kindle. But does that mean it should be launched, especially if not fully baked? I think not.
So, is writing extinct? Not quite. But without people demanding more of their books, for every great author like Weeks and Butcher, there may be 100 or more “good enough” authors and readers deserve better.