I come from a long line of storytellers. My dad and granddad could spin a yarn a mile long that would have you in stitches, tears, or both. Like a lot of yet-to-make-it-big writers, however, I sometimes confuse storytelling with writing, and believe me, they’re two totally different things.
I know I can invent a good story. I’ve been doing that ever since I was five when my mom asked me who spray-painted the cat. Not to mention my uncle said my last book was the best book he ever read, and he drives a truck that actually delivers books.
I often wonder why literary agents can’t see the things my family sees. Of course the real question is—why can’t my family see the things literary agents see?
I had just finished my final draft of an 80,000 word manuscript when someone recommended a book to me, “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Brown and Dave King, two former book editors. Don’t think I’m writing articles so I can secretly plug books; I don’t even do that with my novel, “Reternity,” which you can get right now on Amazon. But this self-editing book can really help you—a lot.
After I finished reading it, not only did I feel like a nincompoop, I also threw my entire manuscript away and started over. The book explains to you what agents and editors look for and that can’t be bad information. So if nothing else, read the book so you can feel as dumb as I do.
Review organizations tend to review books pretty much the same as your family does, by how good the story is and how much they enjoy reading it. Don’t misunderstand, that is an important part of a book, just don’t confuse that with an evaluation of your writing skills.
The thing is, if you want to be serious about this writing thing then do the same thing you would do with every job you’ve ever had—learn to do it well. Writing classes are always a good idea and chances are you can find some in your area.
So if you think you have the next great erotica legal thriller where the entire jury is caught in a sting at a local cathouse, the madam turns out to be the prosecutor’s wife, the judge is having an affair with the defendant’s step mom’s sister, and you just know everyone will love the title, “Hung Jury,” you might be right. You may very well be the one to tell that story. But the question is—are you the one to write it?
Neal Wooten, Publisher/Indie Author/Illustrator/Cartoonist