Well I promised you a post mortem of Demonic Symphony, and now that I have a few spare hours it seems like as good a time as any to write it up.
In terms of overall quality I don’t know what to think about it; I don’t think it’s a bad book but when you compare it to all the love my other book gets it doesn’t really stack up. I think the problem is that I tried to go a bit darker than I usually go and the style didn’t really suit me. In the end if you liked my book then great, and if you didn’t like it then I think you can chalk it up to second album syndrome.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the postmortem; what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I’ve learnt for next time.
I like to start things positively so let’s start with what I liked about this book. If there is one thing that really stands out for me in terms of liking this book, it’s that I finally managed to sort of characterization for my main characters.
As I will get into later I think that shallow characterization weakened the book overall but for my main characters I think I did a much better job than I’ve managed before; Laurie and Derek have very different mindsets and tackle problems in at least slightly different ways; for comparison check out my first book where my main characters turn into clones of each other about three chapters in.
The way I managed the characterization in Demonic Symphony was by applying generalizations to the characters’ mindsets; in this case Laurie always sees the best in every situation while Derek always sees the worst. Now while I think this is the right direction to go in, and it is the technique I intend to use from now on, I think that simply saying positive or negative is too limiting and not what I need to be doing for my writing. What I’m interested in right now is the id, ego, superego trichotomy; so if all goes to plan then in my next book you can expect to see a character that always puts his emotion’s first, another that always obeys his code of honor, and a third that always attempts to mediate between the two.
That is enough of what I liked about the book, let’s move on to the things I’ve going to have to avoid in the next one.
Here’s a fun game; count how many characters I have in this book. Don’t want to? Neither do I. I wrote far too many characters into this book and even if I am getting better at handling characterization the simple fact is that there wasn’t enough time to spread enough characterization around, and the book as a whole comes off weak as a result.
Here’s a simple example. Do you know where Lenard was during the climax of the book? Me neither; it’s like he just dropped off the face of the earth in-between scenes; understandable given that I was juggling something like eight characters during that scene, but still a major oversight and a clear sign that I should have started pruning back characters a long time ago; by force if needs be.
I think for all my books in the future I’m going to have to put some strict limits on the number of characters active at any given time. I’m not sure what that limit is going to be but I think that if a fan couldn’t rattle off the names of all the characters to their friends then I have too many.
There is one more thing that bothers me about this book and that is that the whole plot line of the Retained Demon basically disappears really quickly. Part of this was down to time constraints; I didn’t leave myself enough time to really explain what the Retained Demon was or what it could do, but because it disappeared it just didn’t have a lot of impact on the plot. I’m not sure how I can fix this; since I find it very hard to stick to outlines, but I think for the next book I will attempt to plot out my book a little bit in advance using the first part of the snowflake method.
So to summarize, from this book I’ve learnt to keep strong characterization by generalizing a character’s world view, build up strong characterization by limiting the number of characters, and keep an easy to follow plot by summarizing the entire book in one sentence.
Thank you for reading.