Welcome to post seven in this series! 😃 Today’s topic is one that I’ve mulled over many a time, so it definitely has been interesting for me to try and format my thoughts into a post. 😆 It’s an interesting concept, and I think I did all right 😉 Also, I have an announcement at the end of this post, so stick around till the end! 😃
Every writer is different, but so is every book you write.
On the surface, it’s a fact that’s easy to glaze over. Like, yeah, sure; of course they’re different. They’re separate books.
But this idea actually runs deeper than you realize. It’s something I have to constantly remind myself of while working on manuscripts.
I don’t really think that most writers realize this until they’ve written a couple manuscripts, but it’s something that you really need to know.
This is honestly such a simple concept, yet such a huge one at the same time. It makes it a little difficult for me to tackle it. 😅 I’ll start with talking about the general concept of this idea.
When you first begin writing, I think you naturally gravitate toward what you most enjoy reading and imagining in general. I know my first manuscripts were about stuff I liked to imagine in my head all the time, or play out with my friends. After that, I ended up pivoting to high-fantasy, which was what I most enjoyed reading.
So, for the first couple stories you write, you likely will be writing in the same genre with the same concepts going on. Most of the ideas I had at the time reflected more of what I read in general.
As time goes on and you start to get the feel more for what you like to write, your ideas stop becoming entirely based just on what you like to read, and expand to what you’ve found you like to write through experience. Which is cool in and of itself, but not 100% the point here. 😆
Basically, I think that most writers don’t begin to branch out into different sorts of styles, genres, and ideas until they’ve got at least a couple drafts down. So, for a while, they don’t notice this idea.
Once you start entering new territory, you begin dealing with the fact that your stories are… different. And I think that by that point, as you really begin to refine your craft and come up with new, unexplored ideas, that you start to really notice this concept:
That every story is different.
I first stumbled upon the concept when I heard a writer talking about their self-published novel that they really loved: it had been the best writing experience they’d ever had, and it made them kind of sad that they would never have another experience like that. I can’t find the exact video where they talked about this, but here’s a link to her YouTube channel.
It was a startling idea, and strange to me. I kind of felt like, well, I guess that makes sense. And moved on with life. 😆
But then I wrote a manuscript in March 2020.
It was the first time in years that I really let loose on the page and didn’t plan every minuscule detail about the story. I had so much fun writing it, and even wrote another manuscript in April that went much the same way.
I’ve been testing different ways of going about writing since – the first being my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel, where I went seriously in-depth in the planning stages. I want to test another method with an idea I’ve been kind of playing around with – but that’s kind of a side tangent. 😆 I’ve really got to stay on track.
The Magical Manuscript
I think every writer has an experience with a manuscript that can only be described as being magical.
For me, those two manuscripts that I did back-to-back were my magical manuscript. (They were actually set in the same world on the same premise and with the same characters, so I’m just going to bunch them together here. 😆) I’ve never experienced anything like it. I wrote ridiculously fast, incredible amounts in a short time, and had so much fun doing it. I got excited to get up in the morning and work on it. I was experienced enough in writing that I even was managing to pull off a relatively good story, despite not having planned it.
And, now that I’ve finished both of those… that experience is kind of done, you know?
And suddenly, I got it. 😂 I understood Abbie when she talked about that feeling of knowing that you’d never have that experience again.
I think that is really the most simplistic way I can present this concept to you. Writing the magical manuscript was an incredible experience – one that I’ll never have again. Not in the exact same way, at least.
But the thing is, while I think back wistfully sometimes about those days (because, come on, who wouldn’t want writing to be that easy and that fun all the time? 😆), this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Because, the thing is, all my other manuscripts also come with experiences of their own. I mean, some of them seriously sucked, but I still think were necessary on my journey as a writer: either because they taught me what to not do, or because they did admittedly help me learn how to write better. Even if I was miserable while doing it. 😅
So, with that in mind, let’s dive into the rest of the post.
Every Idea is Different
Okay, that’s almost like I just parroted the title, but bear with me. 😆
At the beginning of this post, I just talked about how, when I first began writing, I mainly wrote the kind of things that I liked to read. Many of the ideas I had at the time were centered on things like tween kids with superpowers. I took that, and ran with it. Two and a half books later (it was supposed to be a trilogy, but I realized partway through book 3 that there were a LOT of problems with the books 😅), I ended up writing another book that was high-fantasy. (Side note: my following book was, once again, tweens with super powers, so um… some things never change, I guess?)
However, what I don’t usually mention is all the discarded ideas I had between those two manuscripts. I had many, many ideas. At the time, I read mainly the middle grade genre, focusing especially on fantasy and adventure. I loved superpowers, and had always enjoyed imagining scenarios concerning them, so it was natural that I first went in that direction. However, after working on my trilogy and stopping partway through the third one… I didn’t know what to write.
At the time, I was a pantser. I operated under some serious misconceptions (a post for another time) about writing. But, those aside, this was essentially my process at the time:
- Have a story idea.
- Instantly start writing it.
Yeah, seriously, that was it. 😂 (pfffft compare that to my post on finding your writing process; just reading the post probably takes longer than it took me to start writing 🤣) I never took the time to try and flesh it out in my mind or brainstorm more ideas for it.
In I would go!
And quickly peeter out after a few hundred words or so. 😅
Trust me when I say there were many, many manuscripts.
Actually, let me go and see if I can find them.
Found them. 😂
So of the ones I could find, there are 10. And I likely deleted – or never even saved in the first place – many, many others. For instance, I threw out old notebooks of mine because I didn’t like the stories in them. And I actually really wish I hadn’t, since I want to see those first first stories of mine. (Don’t throw away your first manuscripts! Trust me, even if you dislike them in the moment, you’ll want them later.)
Eventually, I did start a story that I managed to run with – one that originated from a Pinterest prompt, actually. (See, Pinterest is helpful! 😆) However, the direction I took genre-wise – high-fantasy – was highly influenced by the fact that I loved reading books in that genre. The book that inspired me to start writing in the first place was The Ranger’s Apprentice. My new manuscript was very much like it, with many of the same elements in it.
It was, as well, an entirely different kind of manuscript, compared to my first one.
And, as I began to grow more and more as a writer, I slowly began to look at more and more ideas and go I want to try that!
To make this as simple as possible, mentally compare genres.
In my own writing, I was doing middle grade stories about tweens with superpowers. That isn’t exactly a genre, but that’s different from high-fantasy. It’s also different from my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel, which was contemporary.
Each type of genre comes with its own vibe in general. However, the moment you have a specific idea located in that genre, then you could be adding many other vibes into play as well.
For instance, think of a fluffy contemporary novel versus a gritty post-apocalyptic epic. Totally different vibes. This idea is important, because it innately walks hand-in-hand with the fact that each book will come with a different mindset. Your mind will be focused on completely different things when you’re writing them.
The manuscript you’re working on lives constantly in your head. The Why you put into it will be on your mind all the time, as well. If you’re talking about finding hope, for instance, you might have to think a lot about hopelessness, since that’s where the character will start the story – yet also get to think of the best way to reveal hope to the character in the world the story is set in.
As well, there’s the way that you’ll need to prepare to write. I’ve mentioned this the odd time, but you can actually set up triggers of sorts for your mind. For me, grabbing a cup of coffee is often what I do in the morning before writing. Since I do it so consistently, my brain will just go, oooooh, we’re getting ready to write! You can get really specific with the kind of triggers you set up for yourself, so that you can get into the headspace you need to be in for this manuscript.
Going back once again to that comparison above, think of the potential triggers you could have for the two manuscripts; they could likely end up being very different. The mood of each is wildly different, so it only makes sense that your triggers might end up like that as well. You might write in a different environment, for instance. Maybe the contemporary one would be in the day, and the post-apocalyptic one would be at night so that it’s dark.
You might grab a different drink or food, for instance: perhaps a creamy drink for the contemporary or a black coffee for the post-apocalyptic one.
As well, you would gather your inspiration from different places. You have to fill your creative well, and to do so, you might find yourself doing different activities, listening to different kinds of music, watching different things, or looking at different kinds of pictures on Pinterest.
But, as important as it is, mindset is only one difference between manuscripts.
Your life is going to look different with every manuscript you write. Like, last year, I was writing in corona-virus time. Quarantine. That’s insanely different from what my life was like in 2019.
Thinking in terms of a whole book versus a single draft, your life could be different even from draft to draft of a single book. For example, I was doing NaNoWriMo when I did my first draft for my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel, which meant things like my schedule being different as well as the circumstances I was writing in. But now that I’m working on revising it, it’s a way different time in my life. I’m in my final semester of high school, and finals are fast approaching. 😅
Now, I talked about this in my last post, but it bears mentioning again: you will be different as well from draft to draft.
Because your life will be different, you will therefore be different as well. You’ll have changed as a person and grown in some ways. This could also mean the way you work might be different as well; for instance, you might have developed your style further.
In general, though, when I refer to the idea of life being different from draft to draft, I am referring to how the world around you will change, and how you’ll react in response to that – such as your writing schedule changing. I was writing my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel at 5:00 a.m., okay? 🤣 I don’t do that right now while working on revising it.
Again, this relates a little to my last post: you grow as a writer and in experience with every word you write. So, thousands of words later after you finish your manuscript, you’ll have grown in both.
I think as you study your craft and learn about it, it really begins to open your mind to new possibilities for your stories. By learning, you’re expanding your mind. Once you learn how to write flashbacks, for example, you might have more ideas where you want to incorporate them into your stories.
Once you begin pushing the boundaries of your abilities in small ways, I think your brain kind of notices and goes, “Oh hey! Let’s think of more stuff we haven’t done yet that we want to try!” At least, that’s what happened to me personally. 😝
Impossible becoming Possible
I think that everything happens at the time it’s supposed to. If you want a more logical explanation for this, then I would say it’s because your mind knows it can do things and is giving your more ideas.
I actually know a story about this – and it’s actually not about me for once. Cue everyone sighing in relief.
It’s also not about writing.
Have you ever heard of the 4-minute mile?
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a runner completes a mile in 4 minutes or under. However, for many years, no one was able to do it. People surmised that it just must be physically impossible.
However, in 1954, Roger Bannister managed to run it in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.
After he did, what so many athletes found impossible to do went on to be done by over 1,400 other athletes.
Did I have to look the story up just to find all those stats? Yes, but that’s not the point. 😆
As soon as somebody showed everyone else that it was possible to run a mile in 4 minutes, it was like a switch flicked on in everybody’s minds. A door of possibility opened – a door that let them realize, oh hey, I can actually do this because it’s not impossible.
Once you know something can be done, it’s no longer impossible.
The same goes for your writing.
Once you know you can do something, you no longer keep it outside the realm of possibility in your mind. In fact, you start to incorporate it into your writing – and then, as you begin to realize the extent of your abilities (and how cool it is to incorporate new stuff into your writing) you begin to trust yourself with trying new things.
That’s where I sit now with my writing. I’ve figured out many things about it over the years (as you can tell by all the posts on this blog), and now, I feel more intrigued than ever about what I don’t know how to do… yet.
As I slowly begin to realize my abilities more and more, I begin to push at the boundaries I set myself further and further. I think that when you begin having ideas beyond those boundaries, the ideas can be slightly outside, giving something to stretch out towards. Once you hit that, you can think beyond that, and then you keep growing and growing.
Now, I don’t have any science to back that up, but based on what I’ve seen in myself – and sometimes in others – I think it’s a pretty sound theory. 😉
The word baggage has a pretty negative connotation. It implies carrying stuff around with you that others may not want, or something that is heavy, unnecessary, or impeding.
However, we’re just going to ignore that negative connotation the word has for the time being, and just imagine it as some sort of carry on baggage – you know, all that stuff that you willingly brought with you onto a plane; not something that’s bad.
When you decide to work on a new book, that is a huge commitment. You could very likely be shaping your life around this new project so that you have the time to work on it. Not only will the first draft take you time to write, anywhere from weeks, to months, or even years, but then afterwards there’s the whole revising process: going back and forth, reading, reading, reading, revising, taking out scenes, adding in scenes, smoothing over transitions, shoring up scenes, sending it to editors, showing it to beta readers… it’s a very long process!
Taking on a new book means taking on years of work.
But many people love writing, and they have a message they want to share with the world (as I explained in my post on your Why), so they find all the work worth it.
Each manuscript you write comes with different baggage, and that’s what will live in your brain during the months and years you spend writing it.
The type of story you are writing can vary drastically from book to book. The experience of writing one can be entirely different, thanks to many different factors:
- The characters
- Maybe there’s a humorous character in one of your stories, or one that’s a complete cinnamon roll. You see the story through the eyes of the character, so what they’re like can completely change what it’s like to write your book.
- Your Why
- Your Why is the heart of each story. The message you’re trying to thread through it will directly affect your characters and change them; it’s the reason you’re writing the story, so therefore, it is present in every single thing that occurs in your story, whether that be showing the lack of it (and how that affects the character negatively), the character learning it, or the character living by it.
- The vibe
- I don’t use the word vibe that much, but the feel that a book has can vary a lot between books. To bring my example back, it could be a fluffy contemporary novel, or a gritty post-apocalyptic epic. Those will come with very different ideas – ideas that are going to be living inside of your head.
Now, going back to the idea of experience, you grow with every book you write. Part of that includes discovering your style of writing.
However, your style will actually never stop evolving from book to book.
That’s kind of a big statement for me to be backing, I know. I mean, every single book? How could I possibly promise that to be true?
Yes, I am dragging the point of character back again. But think about it!
Unless you are writing a book series, you are likely writing a different protagonist in each one. And, even in a book series, your protagonist will vary slightly from book to book, seeing as they grew from their experiences in the previous book.
I write a lot of standalone novels. I mean, overall, I think that I probably have attempted to write a lot of series, but I do tend to gravitate now towards those instead.
In each one, the main character character is a different person. In fact, even within the same manuscript, you can have multiple points of view: multiple characters whose minds you slip into to view the story through.
And each one comes with their own voice.
And that is what makes your style different in every single book you write.
To some extent, of course, your style will stay the same, based on what you’re like and what you enjoy writing. For me, I usually end up having some sarcasm in my books – or coffee. That seems to always end up in there, for some reason. 🤔 I just can’t seem to write a book without at least one scene in there that includes coffee. 😂
Your writing style is something that is developed over time. It can take writers a long time to find it. In my post on finding your unique writing style, I gave lots of tips on creating your own style. But, I also mentioned:
The way I normally hear it described for when people finally get writing voice is that it just ‘clicked’ one day. And that’s kind of true. I never really concerned myself with my writing voice and just wrote what I liked. And, at some point, I just got it.
While there will be that core part of you and your writing style that will stay the same from book to book, the characters in each book won’t. And they are what gives each book a different feel.
You see the story through the eyes of the character.
Your Why affects and changes the character.
Everything basically has to get run by the character first in the book. What they are like determines how they view the situation. What your Why is determines what they are like, as well. You start them off at the opposite end of the spectrum, then slowly let them learn the Why. By the end of the story, they are in a completely different place than where they began. And the way that everything is described is in their voice.
It’s still you writing the story.
But it’s their head.
Which means your style will vary from book to book.
Every single book is different. The experience of writing each is different. They feel different to write.
So, when you are having difficulty with a book or mentally comparing it to a different one you wrote… just remember that this one is its own journey. That, someday, you’ll look back at writing this manuscript with fondness.
Every book is different. But that isn’t always a bad thing. 😊
Personally speaking, I find myself pushing this idea of every book is different more and more. The journey through each manuscript is different, and I don’t go in any longer expecting it to be the same. I can emulate things that work for me, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same.
I’ve found that… I kind of like that. I like pushing my boundaries further and further: trying new processes, kinds of characters, genres, and ways of structuring my books. It’s so interesting to experiment and go out of your way to make stories one of a kind.
On the flip side, it’s also really cool to write books that are similar to one another – and yet still have a different experience with it, anyway. Really, there’s no way to avoid this idea – which is why it’s so important to know. 😉
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Next post is a subject that I’ve thought about for a while. I’ve kind of talked about it before in previous posts, and I’ve been trying to nail down the draft for a while. But, I think it’s time to drag it into the light and show you it.
Thank you for sticking around till the end to see my announcement. 😆 It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, and I’m hoping that you’ll be interested.
I… am starting a YouTube channel.
Am I that good in front of cameras? No. Do I have a schedule in mind? No. But will I have to find music again for a video after this original one? No! (which is a relief to me 😂😅)
I’m graduating soon (in June, actually) and it felt like the right time to do this. I want to do writing vlogs, so from this point forward, I probably won’t have to worry *as* much about exactly what my set up and lighting are like – or, as I mentioned, music. 😂
If you want to check it out, I’d seriously appreciate it! 😃 I actually have a lot of graduation-related stuff going on this week; I know that’s not related to writing, but if you are interested in watching a vlog about that anyway, please do comment and tell me. 😃 After that, I’m probably going to just focus on writing vlogs in general, SO please do tell me what you’d like to see and find out about my writing life. 😉 Literally, all options are open: my writing, brainstorming, plotting – even blog posts! Or drawing stuff. I want to show what you want to see, so if you’re interested in seeing the behind-the-scenes of literally anything I do, just comment, and I’ll 100% see if I can make that happen for you. 😁
And, as for my blog, if you don’t want to miss my upcoming post, make sure to subscribe! 😃 I hope you enjoyed today’s post – and my announcement. You probably didn’t expect that of all things. 🤣
How different have your different manuscripts been from one another?
Do your protagonists vary a lot from book to book? Or nah?
And what do you think about me starting a YouTube channel?