The ever-irascible Chuck Wendig has a terrific post on the 25 Things he’d like to say to new writers. Excellent post, go read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
You back? Great. Brilliant post, no? Number 11 stood out at me like a Twinkie in a sea of filet mignon. This point talks about writing rules and writing skillz…you needs ’em. Chuck writes:
Writing is a technical skill. A craft. You can argue that storytelling is an art. You can argue that art emerges from good writing the way a dolphin riding a jet-ski emerges the longer you stare at a Magic Eye painting. But don’t get ahead of yourself, hoss. You still need to know how to communicate. You need to learn the laws of this maddening land. I’ve seen too many authors want to jump ahead of the skill and just start telling stories
I concur. I’ve seen too many memoir writers do this. Something happens to them, and their first reaction is to write about it, never thinking about the quality of their writing. Your story may be incredibly compelling, but if it’s wrapped up in mediocre writing, then it’s probably going to be rejected.
Publication is a business just like any other business, and editors are looking for professionals. That doesn’t mean only authors who have published tons of books. It means an author who has researched the business and understands how things work. It’s the author who understands her competition and her intended readership. It’s the author who understands pace, flow, story organization, character development, plotting. It’s the author who knows spelling and punctuation. It’s the author who looks at writing as a business, not a hobby.
That story burning inside of you isn’t going anywhere. I understand you’re eager to get your story on paper, so go ahead and do it. HOWEVER, put it aside and learn your craft. Don’t ever forget that you’re up against many, many people who take writing seriously, so ya needs mad skillz in order to compete.