Practice makes perfect. So they say. I had forty-four romances published, the first in 1975 and the last in 1992. Today, when I read the first one I think, okay, not bad. And when I read the last one I think, did I really write this? The improvement is glaringly obvious; it’s there in the style, the narrative and the dialogue, and yes, practice does bring about an improvement that will be noticeable to yourself and your readers. If you have any doubts about your work then try this exercise and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Writing can be a very lonely occupation, it just depends how you look at it. Authors will tell you that their characters become so real that they almost write their story themselves; that they’re like friends they’re reluctant to say goodbye to at the end of the novel. Tell this to someone who isn’t a writer and they think you’ve got a screw loose. If your characters are real to you, then they’ll become real to the reader. And yes, they do become like old friends; friends you never forget.
To get back to what I said about writing sometimes being a lonely occupation – I can’t say that I ever found it so. My characters came alive for me the moment I started writing about them, they popped out of the pages and took on a life of their own. In that way I was never alone, they were always there, egging me on to write more about their activities, whether joyful, passionate or sad. Those friends have never left, they’re still here, ever young, and part of a family to which I will always belong.