Someone recently asked me whether I still liked my earlier, pre-traditional publisher novels. Another individual noted that they could see an improvement in my prose style between Children of the Folded Valley (self-published) and Spectre of Springwell Forest (traditionally published). These interactions made me curious. Would I still like my earlier novels? Could I see a marked improvement in my writing style?
After re-reading Children of the Folded Valley and The Birds Began to Sing (and I’m still working my way through other earlier works), the answer to the second question is yes. I can see how I have improved as a writer. That ought to be the case. With every book, I get more experienced, so with every book, I hope I improve.
I also must be honest and admit certain things in those earlier stories made me slightly cringe: words I overuse, needlessly passive sentences, sections of “telling” that ought to be “showing”, and so on. These days, such things would be picked up on by my wife (who has since taken a much more active role in assessing my work) as well as my editor. Despite this, I still like both novels, and judging by reviews, readers do too. Both remain rock-solid stories, and The Birds Began to Sing in particular has a twist ending I am very proud of.
All that said, I did take the opportunity to make a few tweaks to their respective manuscripts, so new versions purchased from now on will reflect these changes. However, I think both still stand as examples of where I was then as opposed to where I am now. Hopefully over the next few years, my writing will continue to improve.