Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

A Writer’s Beginning
By Nancy J Cohen

Do you remember when you first started writing books? Or as a reader, do you remember when you discovered a new author to read?

My latest project is to revise and update my backlist mystery titles and publish them as reissued Author’s Editions. The first book, Permed to Death, needed tightening, since I wrote it over 15 years ago. My writing style has changed in that time, and I can see problems now where I couldn’t see them before. So it has been particularly gratifying to edit these earlier works and to offer readers an improved version. Here’s my original book cover.

coverPTDWhen writing our first novel, we have all the time in the world, even though we might not be sure what we’re doing. By book number two, we may be contracted to a publisher and have to produce at a faster pace. But having the advantage of editorial advice also improves our writing.

If you’re a writer, how do you compare your earlier works to your current books? If you’re a reader, do you feel an author improves with time, or do some skim corners due to publishing pressures? Do your favorite authors write wonderful books on a consistent basis? Get better? Or slack off?

Do you ever wish you could go back in time for a Redo of life’s experiences? What would you fix if you had the chance?

Comments

  1. Terry Ambrose says

    One thing is certain, our writing is always changing. I think most of us tend to get better over time, but there are plenty of writers who go the opposite direction. I guess it depends on individual goals…and those change, too.

  2. Just keep on writing your books, look to the future and forget about your writing past! jdh2690@gmail.com

  3. maggietoussaint says

    Sometimes I think I’m too critical when I revisit my earlier published books. It’s so easy to get caught up in craft when story transcends craft. Sure there are errors, and for me, I used stronger language in one series than I’d use now. But. I have the sense of wonder and delight as each page unfolds in those books. The purity of story really shines through. What does this mean? Not sure, but I’ve had this thought rumbling around in my head regarding this matter: I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. Great post, Nancy!

    • Yes, there’s something to be said for purity of story. And we are definitely our own worst critics. But I want to do audio versions and sync them with my revised editions, not the earlier texts with all the beginner mistakes.

  4. Every word we write makes us a better writer — we’ll never catch up with ourselves! That said, I think that while our writing craft certainly improves with time, early work has a freshness to it that can’t be duplicated. Thought it is nice to go back and edit it a teensy bit.

  5. Some of my early fanfiction stories are floating around the Internet. I decided to leave them as a way to show that I’ve grown as a writer. And every now and then I get an alert that someone has added them to a ‘favorite’ list.

    • Yes, the earlier books do show how we’ve grown as a writer. For anyone who wants those editions, they can buy the Open Road Media versions of my earlier work.

  6. I’m a believer that life experiences make you what you are today. Therefore, I wouldn’t change anything, as much as I might like to!