Writing Mediocre Books Is Hard

As the title says, writing mediocre books is hard. Not in the sense that writing books is so difficult that even writing a mediocre one is hard. I mean in the sense that my own stringently advocated strategy of favoring quantity over quality is actually more difficult than fussing with a book until every single chapter is individually an effective advert for my writing. For me, at least. I assume the guy writing Dungeon Born doesn’t have this problem.

I have two different books now that are struggling with middle chapters, and I recently read both of them and compared them not to the best moments of my own work, but to the best moments of other books I have read. Obviously, if we use all books I have read as a measuring stick, the problem only gets worse. But using individual other books I have read, it suddenly becomes clear that I am worried about nothing. The worst parts of my book are only slightly worse than the best parts of Awaken Online. They’re better than the best parts of Shipwrecks Above and, by extension, Succubus. The worst parts of my books are definitely better than the worst parts of perfectly successful books like Threadbare, and are no worse than the bog quest from Way of the Shaman. The worst parts of my book are about on par with the opening pages of Scourge of the Betrayer, and those actually are adverts for the author’s writing.

Why am I so worried about retaining readers when I’m already some nine chapters in? No one’s going to read a book that far and put it down because of one dud chapter. I know the chapter after is better, and while the one in the middle could definitely be improved, the amount of time I’ve sunk into improving it is  way past the point of diminishing returns. I’m clearly at the point here where I should just let some of the middle chapters be kind of lame and move on to finishing the actual story so I can get the good parts of the book out the door.

1 thought on “Writing Mediocre Books Is Hard”

  1. Going from short stories to writing a novel I find myself noticing this more. With short stories if there’s a page that is boring or doesn’t do much it’s this huge problem but when I read longer works I don’t see authors being super concerned about having mediocre chapters. In a way I guess it’s kind of relaxing to just hear whats going on and not have to take so much in, but with my own writing I see it differently.

    I always have the thought that maybe the chapter should be cut and it’s good parts harvested for some other chapter. I worry a reader might think I don’t respect their time if they read a chapter that isn’t very engaging. I guess it’s better than having a bad chapter though. I’d rather the reader forget a chapter than remember this one terrible chapter and have that be all the recall from the book.

    Like

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