I was reading How to Write Best-Selling Fiction a little while back, when a chapter jumped out at me, and I couldn’t help but smile. It was totally me. I’m ashamed to admit my naivety, but it was like I was reading my story.
Dean Koontz, the author, tells a story about an unpublished author. He had agreed to look at the man’s manuscript and got a little more than he bargained for. For the purpose of his story, he decided to call the man Bubba.
Bubba was very excited about his work, and said writing was the easiest thing he had ever done. All he had to do was sit down and type. The story just flowed off the top of his head. He wondered why everyone wasn’t doing it.
Well Bubba did give him a manuscript, but it was nowhere near publishable. In fact, according to Koontz, “In the first chapter of that novel, Bubba commits virtually every grammatical error known to English-speaking people.”
Like Bubba, I finished my first novel and was eager to put it out there. It was a great story. I knew I had a best seller. I sent it out to literary agents and waited for my offer. I of course, got a number of rejections. One very gracious agent took the time to review at least a portion of my work, and provided me with a list of reasons why my novel wasn’t ready.
Grammatical and Structural errors were at the top of the list. Dean Koontz calls these the unforgivable sins. New writers may need pointers on pacing, transitions, POV, backstory… but if you’re calling yourself a writer, you should know and follow the basic rules of grammar.
There you go. I’m a sinner, but I have worked hard to redeem myself 🙂
One of the myths that I fell into, was that it didn’t matter if my grammar was perfect or even approaching perfect. The publishers had editors that would go through and correct all of my mistakes. Right? Wrong!!!