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The Problem With Improving

There’s an old saying that goes, “the more you improve what you’re doing, the more what you’ve done needs improving.” This is particularly true of writers. As the Dooven Books have become more refined, and their style more distilled, it means earlier titles seem less refined in comparison. For example, the fourth book, When Fear Is Not Afraid, has recently undergone its beta reader round, with the feedback far more encouraging than with earlier titles. There was a sense that the story was “more consistent and confident in its delivery”, with its “style having matured and story depth considerable.” This has less to do with plot and characterisation, and more to do with overall impression, which, for a reader, is what matters: technique concerns writers, while immersion concerns readers. Moreover, the beta readers, being avid fans of the books, know them better than the author. They can see into corners the writer hasn’t noticed and see colours that appear only in the words’ wake. The point I’m making is that, for the sake of consistency, previous titles need to be re-written to ensure their consistency with newly released titles. As style matures, previous books must grow up also. This requires a huge investment of time and resources. Not only must the books be wholly rewritten, but their audiobook editions re-recorded and their Cinematics reproduced, which means months, sometimes years, of hard slog, during which further titles must be put on hold. It is a wonderful frustration, however; a stagnation that polishes what has already gone before. Importantly, this re-writing and reproduction exemplifies the difference between books published now, and books published even a decade ago: the digital environment has turned books into evolving entities that grow with readers when nurtured by writers. In the past, books sat on shelves waiting to be sold, their words stamped and frozen. Nowadays, each copy is born as needed. Their pages are no longer static. Rather than new editions being published every year or two, they can be republished every word or two. It's just unfortunate the Velvet Paw of Asquith Novels now have over a million of them.


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