Picture this: Your favorite author writes a series that you love. You love his/her work. Then a new book, a new series comes out.
And you hate it.
As a reader I hate it when that happens. Beth Bernobich finished one series, then her next book was actually a collection of interconnected stories. She went from fantasy to steampunk. I like both genres… but I hated the second one. Did not care for it. At. All. The voice was too different from the one I fell in love with.
Sometimes a series can shift and change underneath you. I loved L.E. Modesitt’s Imager series. The last two… not so much. But the very last one… nope. The voice was the same, but the story fell flat. The voice was…stagnant.
As a reader, we can identify these things and bemoan the horrors! But as authors, we need to take careful notes. Some authors can skip through genres, or even different tones in the same genre (fantasy and romance are famous for that) and do it successfully. Others not so much. Some can write in the same tone over and over and still achieve the stretching that keeps writing fresh.
Because as writers, we do have to stretch. We need to reach with our writing, either in scope, genre or voice. Even if they never see the light of day, we need to keep honing our skills. Patrick Rothfuss wrote what ended up being the best non-story story I’ve ever read (The Slow Regard of Silent Things). While set in the world that his series is in, it is completely different. Rothfuss has taken a lot of flack for it, but here’s the thing. I think he probably would have written it regardless of whether or not it was published. Many mocked him for the “apology” that he prefaced his work with. I say this: he merely let rabid fans know that this was not what they were waiting for. It had meaning, but it was substantially different.
So what’s the answer? I don’t have it… but I know this much. The story I’m starting on now might have light and fluffy parts to it. But at it’s core it’s something different than what I’ve been writing lately. If it’s published, cool. If not, at least I will have strengthened those writing muscles.
Till next time, my lovelies!