Finding the path to writing a ‘publishable’ piece of fiction is a balancing act: it takes good prose, a well-crafted plot, good pace, an engaging narrative voice, interesting characters, good dialogue, a unique or well-written premise…
Writers often find the opening words, paragraphs and chapters the hardest to write, and I am afraid to say that the same applies to a blog post for me. There is so much hanging on your opening lines that you want to get it right, but does stressing about perfection really help us find those precious few words that will captivate our reader?
The answer is no.
In fact, I am almost certain that those perfect words are nearly impossible to come by on a first sitting (aka a first draft). And this is why it is so important to learn to both edit your own work as well as invite others to edit and be critical of your prose also.
And it isn’t just about prose either, is it? This blog could be the most beautifully worded ‘article’ in history but if it fails to ‘say’ anything, or take you – my reader – on a journey, then what purpose does good prose serve?
Sometimes this is the difference between writing a piece of literary genius versus something that is commercially viable – something people actually want to read.
Often, after years of writing, writers find it hard to determine whether they have achieved all of the above…or none at all! And, here comes my plug: this is where The MAA comes in! (NOTE: ‘The MAA’ = slang for ‘The Manuscript Appraisal Agency’…because quite frankly it is a bit of a mouthful!)
In every writing journey there comes a time to relinquish your baby, let them out into the world to be viewed and shaped by others. No writer writes in isolation and at the end of the day, the best writers know this. Writing is an art form. It is the ability to constantly adapt, grow, learn and evolve. And sometimes to do this, we need to expose ourselves (or our writing) to external influences.
And for every writer this will come at entirely different points in your manuscript’s journey. Some come to us after having written one draft only, others spend years of drafting and redrafting before deciding the time is right. And there is no ‘blanket’ right time. Writing is a deeply personal journey, and yet it is something that we need to share.
There are more writers now than ever before. More people want to get published, and the unfortunate truth is that there are fewer publishing places available and the ‘powers that be’ are less open-minded than they once were. There is also an expectation that writers should submit near-perfect, well-presented manuscripts.
And this is why we exist. We are a group of industry professionals who have the expertise and experience to help guide authors in their writing, but also offer an insight for writers who know very little about the workings and pressures experienced by professionals in publishing houses. I feel that to understand this is to have a better opportunity of being seen by those you want to read your work.
In writing this blog, I am hoping to offer you interesting publishing insights, update you on industry events, write about competitions, give you tools to get your words on the page, offer you funny book/writing stories… basically anything related to publishing, writing or books will hopefully find its way onto this blog and in doing so might inspire you in your writing (and hopefully not distract you from writing in the first place!).
As Les Brown was once known to say: ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great’. And with that, I leave you with my first tip for getting words on the page…write a sentence, any sentence and take the first step into the journey that is writing!