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You see where I'm leading by now. I wrote two new novels, and signed contracts to publish all three novels plus new short story collection in 2001.
It's a common sight among new writers, and really it's a bit sad. People who have story -- part that can't be learned -- but tell it badly. They rush in on adrenaline high that all authors know so well, then get rejected and give up.
What defines a great story? That depends on which reader you ask. If you're writing a story that moves you, someone somewhere with similar tastes will like it. Some stories will be more popular than others, but every story will be considered great by someone. But if it's badly written, reader will simply put book down and read something else.
As a teenaged author, gathering up enough rejection slips to wallpaper room, I didn't give up. I just got arrogant and decided "You don't understand me, ya eejit." That's no solution either. Nor is paying to be published.
Nope, if you want to get published, learn how to tell your story. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, pacing, dialogue... all that stuff that you may have slept through in high school will become second nature with enough practice.
I did quite well in high school English, by way, but it's not like they taught pacing and dialogue and real story-telling there. To learn that, you've gotta read. But that's no problem for an author. If you don't enjoy reading, I don't think you can write something that others will enjoy reading.
Also, you must listen to criticisms. Accept some and reject others, but always listen. I believe Internet makes it much easier to get those criticisms.
I work as an editor now, and one of my authors told me that he sees movies inside his head. It shows in his writing! I don't write that way, unfortunately, but I still know how he feels. When "the Muse" pays me a visit, I've gotta write it down as fast as it comes to me. That's one part that can't be packaged, taught or mass-produced. That part comes from you, author, and no one else can do it way that you do.
Kurt Vonnegut, whose works I greatly admire, writes one sentence at a time, and makes each one perfect before he begins next. But I don't write like that, nor do most of authors I know. We just let it fly, then go back and fix it later.
But if you don't want to get published, don't go back and fix it. Pass that raw copy around to your friends and family and let them tell you how wonderful it is for fear of hurting your feelings. Then send it to publishers and collect rejection letters. That's what I did "in my younger days," and I wasn't published.
It took me twenty years to learn my lesson. It would genuinely make me feel good to hear that most writers aren't taking quite so long.
Oh, and when day comes that you finally are published, it's best not to sleep until 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time and hear about it in wonderful but chaotic way that I did. (Not that you can know what day that'll be.) I barely had time to bask in moment before I had to fire up publicity machine and see how many copies I could sell.
I'm very proud of VIGILANTE JUSTICE, by way, and not just because it’s an EPPIE 2002 finalist in Thriller category. I wrote what I like to read; something that says what I want to say, and my readers are genuinely enjoying it. That's why I write.
Michael is an American living in Hong Kong. He has been working as a full-time author for over two years and as an editor for over a year. He has 4 novels scheduled for publication. He’s proud of the fact that he rarely writes in the same genre twice. One of his novels is an EPPIE 2002 in the Thriller category. His website is at http://free_reads.tripod.com.