I think it comes from writing short. When you write short, you can only fit a limited number of cool twists and characters in your project – more or less depending upon how short, but still, a limit. Content is something I’ve always struggled with during attempts to write long; I thought it was because I couldn’t come up with enough stuff to fill 400 pages but I think it is in reality my tendancy to think up something neat after I’ve started writing, then decide I should save that neat thing for the next project instead of incorporating it into the first project.
Reviewers and readers pick up on it. I’m not sure who I read in recent months who really complained about authors holding out – maybe Mrs. Giggles – but when I read the complaint, I blushed a little. Because I’m a hold out. Not because I want to stiff readers out of high entertainment but because I worry about not having a good idea around which to build the next project. And my books suffer. Example right now: I’m working on finishing a WIP for NaNoFiMo (my version of NaNoWriMo, with “finishing” as the verb instead of “writing”) and every time I get into a scene with the heroine as an entity unto herself, I stall. What does she do? What does she want besides this one thing that the hero provides? What’s her background? Where does she come from? A few months ago I thought up a really neat character and filed it away to be used later, but I should have built that character into this book instead of shrugging and saying “well, I already started so I should keep with the one I have and save this other one for later.”
Totally the wrong advice to give myself. I need to enrich my WIP, not tiptoe around picking and choosing and saving “interesting” things for the next book. WTF have I been thinking?
Today I stop being a hold-out. My imagination’s all like “thank god, no more dull scenes of meandering around talking about the same thing over and over again for sake of word count, instead of charging into intriguing story-enriching territory.”
Sometimes I need a whack upside the head.