Over the last few days, I’ve seen this topic come up a few times in various social media discussions.

Book 1 was okay, but I hope book 2 is better because of X.


The writing was okay, but I sure hope that X thing improves between books

There’s nothing wrong with such hopes. But, at the same time, expectations can often be blown out of proportion compared to the actual.

Writing is like any art other skill. The more you do of it, the better you get. Whether it’s martial arts or painting, if you are doing it with intention (and, intention is very important), you will get better as you figure out what is or is not working.

That being said, it takes time. A lot of time sometimes, to get visibly better, especially if you have hit a certain ‘level’.

I recall spending some time in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, walking through his numerous exhibits. And, if you were in any one particular section, it was hard to tell the difference / improvement between one section to the next.

Yet, as you kept going, you realise, hey, he’s changed. His work has changed, he’s gotten better / focused on different things.

Writing is similar in my view. It’s hard to tell sometimes from one book to another. It’s a lot to do with timing, because even if you are improving, it’s in the margins.

Book 1 of the System Apocalypse was written and released in about 4 months. Book 2 was released in September, 2 months later. Roughly 3 months between one book being written and released and another. About… 150k words (not including the deleted words) between the two.

Some writers spend years working on the same manuscript, working and reworking it so that it’s ‘perfect’ in their eyes. They craft their prose, their characters to an astounding level. Others, like me, write multiple books, taking the things we learnt from one book to the next. Or looking at what we did wrong and trying to figure out how to improve.

Point being, if there was a point to this, was to be careful about expecting huge changes between books. It’s really unlikely to happen unless, you know, it’s a book that’s taken a year to rewrite.