Friday 5th January 2018

One of the things I really wasn’t happy about last year was how little I read.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read – I bought a ton of books.  I just never found the time in between edits and tournaments to really sit down days in succession and read.
So going into 2018, one of the things I want to change is the amount I read.
However, just by chance, Craig has started reading The Dresden Files and is loving it.  He’s been talking about it to me and given I cannot remember what happened in which book, I’ve been in fear of spoiling things for him.  Given that I always said I wanted to reread the books, this has proven to be an opportunity to kick off my reading for 2018 by picking up Storm Front again.
It’s actually been a lot of fun.  Far from being a dry reading experience, I’ve actually enjoyed the book more a second time.  It’s been fun to see how weak Harry is in this first book as he struggles against an untrained sorcerer.  Of course, I know how powerful he gets as the books progress.
The Shade Knight books owe a lot to Dresden.  I like how Butcher escalates the threat as the books progress, how there’s a villain-of-the-week style feel to the books.  It’s something I’ve taken into consideration as I’ve planned out my potential series.  Bad guys have got swapped around so that the more powerful bads end up later in the series.
Whilst Shade Knight is a completely different sub-genre to Dresden, I think it can still provide subtle inspiration.  You can look at how successful authors have crafted a series, take lessons from it and apply it to your own work.
However, something interesting has come out of this re-read.  I’ve found myself picking up on the writing.  Now I love Dresden (Yes, Steve you were right to nag me to read them) but I’m finding myself mnetally editing the book as I go.  There are superfluous phrases, passages that aren’t very clear, sentences that are clumsy.
I say this, not to be an arse, but as an observation.  Every writer improves his or her craft as they progress.  I have no doubt that ten books from now, I will wince at Black As Knight.  But seeing these ‘faults’ in this re-read has been a bit of an eye-opener.
Kate always tells me that the latest Black As Knight draft was a massive improvement.  She says it’s no longer Storm Front good, it’s Dead Beat good (a reference only Dresden fans will get).  I’ve really doubted that Black As Knight is as good as the 7th Dresden book (when everything really steps up) but having re-read Storm Front, I can possibly see it.
It’s hard to see your own improvement as a writer.  I do feel that I massively levelled up last year with the rewrite but never really had much to compare it to.
Of course, a well-edited book means nothing.  There are plenty of examples of terribly written books that have connected with an audience, and, conversely, well-written books that have disappeared without a trace.  I don’t think Storm Front is terribly edited either, I just keep noticing things I would have cut.
I’m close to finishing the book, and Craig has already finished book 2, so it looks like I’m going to be diving straight into Fool Moon.  We already have Grave Peril ordered so I’m starting to think that it’ll be a bit of a race to keep up.
Oh well, I did say I wanted to read more this year.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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