Authors who are published take the craft of writing seriously. They understand the work involved to prepare your manuscript and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and dive in. So what do they do?
They read countless stories and analyze what’s going on in them to make them successful. When they read, they ask themselves the following questions.
- How does the author make me want to turn the page?
- Why am I drawn to the lead character?
- What makes the scene work?
- What’s the key conflict?
- How does the author handle dialogue?
- How does the author integrate minor characters?
- How’s the pace, can you feel the tension building?
Authors also read books on writing, take classes, and apply what they have learned. They have people give them feedback-editors, critique groups(Scribophile, Writers.com), trusted and objective friends. They work at becoming better writers.
You will never get where you need to be to publish that first novel, if you don’t learn your craft. Like any other job, writing requires work. You don’t wake up one day and you’re an author, just like you don’t wake up one day a brain surgeon. Just because you want it to be doesn’t make it so. Pay your due diligence and learn the craft. It will save you so much time and heartache in the long run.
Being the novice with a really good idea, I thought all I had to do was write my story down on paper. I knew how to string sentences together. I did a minimal amount of research, and got a mediocre story set up for rejection. The responses I got from the literary agents shocked me and hurt my feelings. I didn’t realize how bad the work was at the time, because I didn’t know any better, and I obviously didn’t take the time to learn the rules. Yes there are rules! Hard fast rules! I broke every one of them.
One of my rejections letters was from an agent who I’m sure knew I was new at this writing thing, and she took the time to point out the major issues with my work. “It’s just not ready. You have a really good premise, but it is riddled with grammatical and structural errors. You are head hopping, and your dialogue is dragging.”
What was I suppose to do with that? I didn’t even know what head hopping was, and I understood dialogue, but I never knew it could drag. If I had researched and taken the time to learn the proper way to write a novel, I would have known exactly what she was talking about.
The question you need to ask yourself: Do I want to just write or do I want to be published?