Alright, The Detective's Pleasure has been out for over a month now. It's doing real solid in the reviews, but I thought it would be fun to share my own thoughts on the book. More specifically, what I think I did well, and what I can still improve on. This isn't an exhaustive list, because I'd like to keep these blog posts below 1,000 words. Instead, it's a few of the things that stood out to me the most. From The Sergeant to now, I think the two things I've improved on the most are story cohesiveness and head hopping. I'm proud to say that readers and reviewers agree with me on improved story cohesiveness. I've seen it mentioned in several reviews, including one from Prism Book Alliance.
I'm very happy with the tightness of the plot for The Detective's Pleasure. Basically I decided to practice the K.I.S.S. Method, otherwise known as Keep It Simple Stupid. I refrained from adding too many side plots into the story. I had some ideas for things I thought would be cool! But ultimately I realized they didn't necessarily add to the story. But no worries. They can be on plot bunny stand by for future books.
Another reason The Detective's Pleasure is more cohesive than The Sergeant is because it was planned out from the beginning. When I started writing The Sergeant's original fic predecessor I didn't really have a plan. I just knew three things: it was a BDSM story, one of my MCs was desperately in love with the other, and that they would have a wild and crazy affair. I was only a chapter ahead in my planning for a good portion of the story. It wasn't until the last third or so that I sat down and actively started plotting where the storyline was going. When I wrote The Sergeant, I followed the original rambling storyline. As I worked, I realized that I did better having a plan. Yes my friends, I'm a plotter not a panster. I got more practice in plotting with Bad Boys Need Love Too, and continued to work on it for Ryan and Sam. I'm not a top level plotter yet, but I'm pretty pleased with my improvement.
My other area of improvement was in head hopping. I like writing from both MCs point of view so that the reader can see and experience what both guys are feeling. But in both TS and BBNLT my point of view changes came about too often, resulting in the dreaded head hopping. This can be confusing for readers, and there was mention of it in reviews. With TDP, I paid close attention to keep that from happening. I think I had success in that area, but I also think I spent a lot more time in Ryan's head than I did in Sam's. The lion's share of the story was told from his POV. I'd like to continue to work on POV changes that don't head hop, but still allow both MCs a chance to tell their story.
As far as areas of improvement, there are two main things I need to work on. Paragraph, scene, and chapter transitions is a biggie. JFC those are hard for me! I think I started 97% of the chapters in TDP with some variation of, "Ryan sat at his desk." I changed three or so and sent the story off to my betas, thinking I was slick and no one would notice. Ha! One of my lovely betas, Jaylee, called me out on it. So I sat my ass down, went through and changed all but a few. It was hard. It was like my brain refused to come up with different ways to start a new scene. That's something I definitely need to work on.
My second area of Needs Improvement is character motivation for both MCs. Again, I spent most of the time in Ryan's head, which makes sense. The book might be titled The Detective's Pleasure, but it was Ryan's struggles with jealousy and submission that we were there to read about. Still, I would have liked to see more from Sam. But since I was trying to keep it tight, I didn't put as much for him in the story as I would have liked to. I'd say the POV scale was tipped at 80/20 in favor of Ryan. I'd like future books to be a little more balanced. It'll probably never be 50/50, some characters just have more to say than others, but maybe I can shoot for 60/40.
Overall, I think TDP is a good example of my improvement as a writer. To get better, I continue to read, both fiction writers I admire, and books on writing craft. I reread my own stories with a critical and honest eye, looking to see what did and didn't work. And even though like most authors, I'd rather sniff a donkey's sweaty hairy balls than read my one and two star reviews, I did so to find out just what it was about my story the reader didn't like. For both TS and BBNLT I'd say my overwhelming criticism was "Why is this book so damn long?!" I took that as my cue to cut down on the ramble.
Is The Detective's Pleasure perfect? Hell no. I don't ever want to write the perfect book. That would mean I don't have anything left to learn or explore. And that's super duper lame. No, I want to forever be in the middle box on my report card - always showing growth and learning new things.
Thank you for reading! Have you read The Detective's Pleasure yet? Tell me what you think in the comments. Or better yet, leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon. ;-)
My rambling and not at all edited thoughts on romance novels, writing, and pop culture.