Why do you not like character development?
Yesterday, I saw a comment wherein a reader wondered why I didn't give character development the same attention as the plot, action, and magic scenes. "It would only benefit the story," this person said, and "I can't understand why he doesn't give this aspect of storytelling the same attention as the others." (Paraphrased, because I can't be bothered to look up the actual comment, but it's pretty close.)The thing is, he's not wrong. And neither are you, to suggest that the world-building is shallow. It is shallow. I have all this stuff charted out in my notes, but much of what I imagine about the world is only skated across or touched upon before we've left the area and moved on to the next.However, there's no such thing as a fast-paced, action-focused, character-focused, plot-focused, worldbuilding-focused fantasy novel. There are series that do all of those things well, but they tend to be much longer and they don't come out twice a year. And even they have priorities, because you cannot have every aspect of story-crafting as your highest priority.I have a limited amount of time to produce these novels if I want to keep releasing them regularly. Therefore, I have to choose what is most important to me.I think will is putting too much stock in keeping books close to the same length.There are two reasons why I put a high priority on keeping the books close to the same length. First is story consistency. It's very easy to let each book in a long series balloon longer and longer as the series progresses, because you're always adding new characters and new places and new aspects of the world to explore.Plus, you hear most of your feedback from your hardcore fans (because they tend to care the most and therefore talk the most), so they're always clamoring for more. However, a 120k book is structurally different from a 90k word book. It's not just "the same story, but more of it." You don't want people to sign on for one type of story and end up getting another.That said, I could see a Cradle book stretching up to 120k without it changing too much, and we might end up there. Which brings me back to the other point: release rate. It takes me longer to write a longer book.If I didn't give myself a cap, I would always write longer and longer books, because there are more cool things I want to cram in there. But I have to limit myself, or the stories will stretch and change and the release rate will slow down."Ah, but Will, you snide devil," I hear you say, "why don't you just take more time to write each book?"Two reasons: first, I don't believe most people want that. I believe most readers value consistent releases more highly than you might expect. I am firm in this belief, but I know everybody doesn't think that way, so in comes my second reason: it just doesn't work.If I took as long as I wanted for each book, and they each took more than a year to write and were as long as I wanted, they might individually become more highly rated. But the series as a whole would be less popular. My sales growth comes almost entirely from quick releases and ratings spikes on Amazon, and the way the Kindle store works means frequent releases are far better than infrequent releases, even if the infrequent releases have individually higher sales. My sales charts make it staggeringly obvious. Sales trend way down, and then a new release spikes the sales for all my books (especially books in that series) back up.If I were to take so long between books, I would fall below my minimum monthly income in about eight months. Which means that for the remaining 6-12 months it could take me to write this book, I'd be running off my savings.That is not a viable business model.Even beyond a business perspective and back to the artistic: the same thing happens to fans. Readers forget about me if they aren't reminded every few months. People stop talking about my books. Word of mouth slows down. People don't care as much. Fans are happier, more engaged, and more interested with more frequent releases.This might not be true if I had one Harry Potter mega-hit that sold a million copies and spawned a perpetual motion machine of fan engagement. Then I could take 2+ years for each book and really knock your socks off every time. But since I have not done that, I have to bow to reality.Bottom line: having established that I have to produce books in a finite amount of time, I therefore have a finite amount of space, and I have to choose carefully what I spend that space on.However, that doesn't mean I've given up on improving my world-building!Specifically in the areas of world-building and character development, I know that I can do more in the same amount of space and with the same amount of time. I am trying, and I push myself in these areas every book. There is a way to write an action scene that gives you deeper insight into the characters involved and demonstrates unique aspects of the world without taking up any more page space or sacrificing pacing, but it's hard to do.I am working on it, though! The issues you've brought up are valid, and I'm aware of them, and I'm working to improve, even within the constraints under which I now operate.Thanks! I don’t want to be one of THOSE writers who lets time stretch on forever between books...although Elder Empire fans might say I’m getting there.By the way, part of the “unanswered question” problem is that, when I set out to write this series, I knew a lot of the upcoming plot points but I did not know how long the series would be. So I wasn’t sure when I would reach the right place for those answers.Now, I have a much better idea of where we are and where we’re going.