First of all, lest you think I’m putting myself up on a pedestal, the title doesn’t refer to me or my advice. Today I’m talking about the collective voices of those who have some real world experience in the writing/publishing world.

Earlier today a fledgling author said “a lot of people” told them to change what could be a distracting element in their manuscript. He/she didn’t want to because he/she figures they will have to self publish the book and the references were part of what he/she is counting on to help the book break even.

Sigh …

The hard cold fact is, if the book isn’t very good, the distracting element will just add to that perception and if the book is good, it won’t be necessary. It is not the mention of various landmarks and historical figures that ultimately sells a book. It is story. Story. Story.

Along a similar line, the debate over when to break the rules still rages on. I tend to like what Lisa Morton said about that kind of thinking:

I love it when amateur writers try to argue that grammar, punctuation, and following guidelines when submitting their work shouldn’t matter. Please keep thinking that way – you’re making it so much easier for those of us who DO think those things matter to grab the sales.

That’s the thing. Writing is a business, plain and simple. And those who make the rules do so for a reason. The technical “nuts and bolts” writing rules are there for a reason as well. Granted, if you are Stephen King or Jerry Jenkins, you can probably break various rules without serious repercussions. Then again, they have the technical skill and have earned the right via their sales numbers. That being said, folks on that level of the writing pantheon tend to follow “the rules” like the rest of us.

Ultimately what makes for good writing, be it a novel or a bumper sticker, is:

1. The regular application of your rear end to a chair in front of your writing instrument of choice.

2. The discipline and determination to do so on a regular basis.

3. The ability to listen to those who have some modicum of success and are where you want to be.

  1. Thomas Smith says:

    The really neat thing is (yes, I’m stuck in the 50s and still say neat), we all started out as beginners. Welcome to the club!

  2. shemroy garnett says:

    this is a very good advice for beginning writers like myself

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