My first priority with the Black Mark series is to be entertaining. Not to show off my amazing ideas or world building. Not to spread a message. Not to prove something to myself or anyone else. My prime directive is to entertain myself first. If I write something I like to read, then there should be others who will like reading it, too.
However, I didn’t realize until I was halfway through writing the third book that I had plotted out a crucible story. Yeah, let’s make a crucible story entertaining! Let’s make a dieselpunk fantasy cognate of WWII North Africa a ~fun~ and ~magical~ experience! I’m good, but not that good.
So, I looked at my first draft and thought that I might be nuts and bit off more than I could chew. I ended up blowing my deadline goal by about two months, trying to make this story into something that wasn’t a hard sit. The last thing I wanted was for someone to think that this was getting too heavy and put it down. Because once the book is put down, there’s a risk that it won’t be picked up again. I know that there are plenty of people who like grimdark and the like, but that’s not what I’m aiming for. I’m aiming for the old pulp action adventure novel. Those ten-centers with the WTF covers.
Eventually, I reworked the trouble spots and shifted some focus around. The beta reader receptions that I got were all pretty positive with only a couple of minor, fixable quibbles. A sigh of relief from me. I can deal with little fixable quibbles. That’s usually me forgetting something in between drafts, because I suck at linear writing. I’m too easily distracted.
If you want to check out what I’m talking about, I have some sample chapters for each of the available stories under the Black Mark menu above.
Number four is on the way and I’ll just say that the Indiana Jones theme was playing on loop in my head while outlining it.
I’m sure someone will think that I should have stayed on the grimdark path, but I think that grimdark and angst are like powerful spices. They are best when used sparingly.