I Reread and Critiqued My Old Self-Published Novel!

I recently reread my old, 2019 self-published novel, A Silence in the Shadows. And I thought it’d be a fun idea to roast it in a blog post! πŸ˜‚

Now don’t get me wrong, self-publishing this novel was such an awesome experience, especially for a 14-year-old kid who’d dreamed of holding his own novel in his hands for years. I don’t regret going through this process, it was absolutely invaluable to my writing journey.

Would I publish the book now without feeling like my insides were shriveling with embarrassment? No. πŸ€ͺ

But nonetheless, it was a great experience, I’m a much better writer for it, and now I get to look back at that project, feel slightly proud that a 14-year-old self-published a 400+ page novel, and then roast it! πŸ˜† So let’s get into it!

Starting off, let me just say…I was surprisingly pleased with the story, even after three years. It’s an engaging middle-grade novel about brothers bonding, friendships being formed, and courage being welded to fend off evil and protect the innocent. All in all, the core values of the story and the entertainment value are there!

Besides that ego-boosting comment towards my younger self’s writing…the rest of this review goes downhill very quickly!

Can I just say…my writing prose was trash back then! It might still be now, but at least I know I’ve improved a little! πŸ˜‚

Every sentence was jam-packed with telling instead of showing. I stated every movement a character made, how they felt, and what they were going to do next. And the description…oh, don’t get me started on the description! Mostly because…there wasn’t any. Every location wasn’t described at all, and when it was, it was very generic and flat. None of the character’s surroundings felt alive (save a few parts, there might have been a couple with good descriptions!) The dialogue was a little better than the action and description, but still relatively flat.

Along with that, the plot, magic system, believability, and general structure were all…meh? I think I was so caught up in writing the story that I never assumed my readers didn’t already have a picture of the world in their heads. I never sat down and figured out a quality magic system, how society worked, what the world felt like, or even drew a map. I created a wishy-washy world.

But enough of that. Most of that can be pardoned by saying “Oh, I was just a worse writer back then. I needed to practice more to get better!” Which is mostly true! However, there is one thing that I should have known better than to write even back then…

Ready for it? Drumroll please!!

The fight scenes. *facedesk*

Oh, how I loved writing fight scenes when I was younger! I think I was convinced that if there wasn’t at least one to two fight scenes per chapter, the chapter would get too boring! So in between all of the rest of the story, I would pack in every fight scene imaginable to make sure the story wasn’t boring. What occurred was a jumble of disconnected fight scenes springing out of every nook and cranny of the book! I promise you, pick up the book, flip to a random page, open it, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of a chaotic fight scene. Every time. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

As much as I can roast the story and laugh at it, it was really fun to read through it again. It brings back memories of the time I took to write it, the effort I put in, and the joy I had experiencing each of those characters.

And here’s my most surprising takeaway…despite the poor writing quality, the sub-par fantasy world, magic system, and cliche plot, the book still holds potential in my eyes. If it were tweaked, the writing prose was redone, cliches were resolved, and about two-thirds of the fight scenes were taken out, I could see it being a fun, exciting, and powerful middle-grade fantasy novel! The characters aren’t half bad and the core of the story isn’t half bad. I could see them flourishing into something awesome. And that gives me hope that maybe one day, if I can keep honing my craft, keep learning from my mistakes, and keep cutting down on my fight scenes, maybe I’ll be a half-decent writer. 🌝

That’s it for this post everyone, I hope you liked the roast of my own old story and the takeaways I got reading it. Do you ever look back at your old writing? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to chat and connect with you!

Until later,

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15 thoughts on “I Reread and Critiqued My Old Self-Published Novel!

  1. This was such a funny post! I was 14 when I started self-publishing. I am now 17, and I realize how bad my writing was. I did a whole rebrand of my website, and one of the first blog posts I wrote was a roast of all 7 books I’d self-published (just in case previous readers thought I still affiliated myself with the books).

    Keep writing, Caleb. I’m sure we’ll always look back at our old selves and cringe at what we did. It’s sign of growth, so in a way, it’s a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha so glad you enjoyed it! Yep, I’m a little regretful that I did self-publish something that wasn’t ready, but I did gain a lot of experience through it, so it was fine in the end! πŸ™‚
      Indeed, I couldn’t agree more! Thank you very much for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great job at roasting your story, Caleb! As a fellow writer I actually really enjoyed watching you make it into coals, and then revive it back into fire.
    I haven’t read it…. yet, but I want it it’s like one of the first books on my book list! (Which is quite long)
    I love seeing you grow in writing and a man at the same time! (Yes, I know your older, but that’s what you get from me your little sister)
    Good job! I can’t wait until the next blog! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Also, I’m going to have to talk to you a bit about how you did your self-publishing because that’s exactly what I want to do by the time I’m 16 or so Lord willing! And yes, I go back often and re-read my writing, though I half enjoy it half am happy no one is seeing me laugh at myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, for sure! Just make sure that self-publishing is the right option for you and at the right time–you don’t want to jump the gun into publication before you’re ready! But I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about it!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Haha, sometimes I feel that way over old stories I wrote. First I cringe, and then after reading some more, I find that parts of it weren’t so bad. Then I think of ways of how to improve it (or more likely, get new story ideas/spin-offs, etc XD).

    Liked by 1 person

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