It's interesting to me that some authors get better with each book, some write the same book over and over, and some actually get worse.

Authors often deteriorate, in my opinion, because they are pressured to get that next book out, even if it isn't quite ready, even if the plot is thin as rice paper or the characters act like raving maniacs. We all had a long time, years for most of us, before that first book sold, and we tinkered with it every few months, improving and fine-tuning. But the second time around, we don't have that luxury, and each additional offering can become a little less "my" book, not hammered over time into exactly what I intended, but dependent upon editors and sub-editors to find the things that need fixing. It's not terrible, but who cares more about a story than the author?

Some writers feel safe with what worked the first time, so they change the local details and the name of the victim and tell the same story. We can all point to authors who've been pretty successful doing that, so I'm not criticizing, but I'd be bored to tears after Book Two.

The authors I most admire listen to the Muse that got them started writing, the inner voice that says, "What if I..." These are the stories that are fresh, even when they concern characters we've met before. Like real people, they grow, they have life experiences, and they take time to develop. And the added bonus, I suspect, is that the writer is having as good a time with it as those who buy her books.

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