As I struggle with the third rewrite of my new manuscript, Entropy –it’s really rough going– I remembered an entry in my old blog that described my frustrations with all the very bad writers who get published. I’m republishing it here:
Ink Slinger again, but this time his website. Paul Guyot has an interesting take on why people think it’s easy to write:
“There are two reasons, actually. The first is what I call the Summer Vacation syndrome. Every person has, at one time, had to write something. In elementary school it was the “How I spent my summer vacation” essay. In high school it was the “Analysis of manuscript,” formerly known as a book report. In college it was the “Thesis.”
I hadn’t thought about it in that particular way, but it struck me as quite true. Everyone in school had to write some kind of essay or story, and were graded on it. If you got an A, doesn’t that mean that you’re good? That it’s easy to write?
To paraphrase Lawrence Block, many writers want to have been published. They want the hardcover with their names on it in Chapters, or Barnes and Noble, or on amazon. That is the accomplishment. Never mind having to spend time perfecting the craft. I’m not talking about spelling and grammar, although both are necessary basics. I’m talking about mastering character motivation, structure, description, style, tone, setting, conflict, action, suspense.
Plot? Sure, that’s important, too, but these days there are too many good stories badly written. Case in point, The Da Vinci Code, which has been on the best seller lists (but we know about these, now, don’t we?) for months and is a badly written book.
This seems to reinforce the idea that it’s okay not to know how to write well, as long as the story is sensational enough. And of course, if you’re a celebrity, then even the story itself doesn’t count. They’re selling their names, not the content of the book.
Doesn’t matter. I’ll continue to try to perfect my craft because, even though I’m not a literary writer and never will be, it’s important to me to give my readers the best experience possible. I want them to say, at the end of the book, that words flowed so well they couldn’t put it down.