Yet another post to share. This one from Hayden Trenholm: Sorry, Your Submission Didn’t Grab Me
So much good advice in here. Read the whole thing even though at one point he cautions that it’s a long post.
I think that first point he makes is so fundamental that it bears repeating:
“Most people think they can write. They graduated high school, went to University, got a job and they’ve composed a million e-mails or text messages. The truth? Most people can’t write; their teachers were lying to them. What most people can do is communicate – badly.”
I don’t repeat this to be insulting to anyone just starting out. (Hell, there might be folks who put me in this camp…) But I think a lot of people want to skip this step. And while I agree that the ability to write without the ability to tell a good story is worthless, I think the ability to write has to be there.
You as a writer don’t want to get in the way of the story you’re trying to tell. That’s why you learn the basics of writing. So you can communicate well enough and clearly enough to pass your story on to others.
I tried to do some market research last month and downloaded a number of popular titles through Kindle Unlimited to see what was selling well. And I remember one story that I had to put aside. Why? Commas.
I am not the authority on commas. I’m pretty sure the people who are authorities on commas would hate my comma usage. But this story had them everywhere. Four paragraphs in, I had to stop reading what was possibly a good story.
I had to set aside another one because the first two pages weren’t a story. They were the set-up to a story, but I’ve never been one to care too much about the nitty gritty details of a room. I like to know more about what’s going on inside characters than outside.
But his second point is equally valid: You have to have a story. You need conflict. You need to give the reader something to care about. And someone to care about.
And then, the hardest part of all, you need to find a way to get that story in front of the people who will want to read it. And not give up in despair while you’re trying to do that…
(I have to say, this is one of the blogs I wish was still active. This one and QQ I circle back to regularly wondering “where are you??” Ah well. I know myself how hard it can be to keep blogging month after month, year after year, so I understand. But I still miss hearing from some of the great minds in this business.)