Yesterday, Dave White blogged:
[H]ow do you get better as a writer? Does it happen consciously? Or is it more subconscious? Do you not know you're getting better as you go along?
I consciously set out to make THE EVIL THAT MEN DO different from [WHEN ONE MAN DIES]. It tells a story that is wider in scope, with more characters, more action, and more motivation. I think it's a good book. I don't know if it's better than WOMD. I don't know if I accomplished what I set out to do.
What makes a writer better? Is it the way you tell a story, a continued improvement on style? Better, deeper plots? Better deeper characters? Something original each time out?
How do you do it???
This may be one of the topics Dave raises for discussion for which he already knows the answer, but I commented anyway:
Part of it is subconscious. There comes a point with every project when we have to let it go and move on to the next one. Ideally, in the time between submitting work and hearing back about it/seeing it published, we continue interacting with people and having insights, and almost inevitably when we see the old project, it looks different to us. By then, we've carried our new experiences into new projects.
As far as improving in specific areas (plotting, pacing, character, etc.), I think we have to be self-policing. An editor might tell us what we need to improve on, but we have to believe it ourselves before we can work on it. It seems to me such specific improvements only hold for genre fiction, where one book is very generally like the rest in the category and one series book is very generally like the next. If I were writing two vastly different books, they'd need different approaches to plot, pacing, character etc. altogether.