So. The Muse is back with another story. She’s also eager to know how you did with the last one. You see, there’s a reason self-published work rarely makes it onto shop bookshelves, and it’s not just ticking “E-Book Only” in set-up. If you’re happy as you are, that’s fine. No problem. Carry on. But if you’re wanting to take your writing further, well...you need to sort things out.
And ‘things’ are? Simple. The quality of the writing. Not the quality of the idea. The quality of the writing. Because if the writing’s confused, so is the reader. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m confused enough, thank you very much. Which is why the Muse has brought the Editor with her, just in case. He’s big, bad and loaded-for bear. Or at least writers. Which means he’s got heavy artillery, and the temper to use it. Grab a tin hat. You might need it.
Because he’ll ask you all sorts of awkward questions you’d rather not have to deal with. Tough. Get answering. Are characters consistent, in both appearance and personality? Does the story leave the reader eagerly awaiting the next book, or wondering where the rest of this one is? Do characters magically manage to stand up twice without ever sitting down? How quickly does the story move? So fast you can’t keep up? Or is it quicker to watch paint dry? Does the punctuation say what you want it to say? Or just what you thinkit says? “Are you eating, Grandma?” or “Are you eating Grandma?” Might have to chop her up if you are….
Read work out loud. Better still, get someone else to do it. And watch the Spell-Check - its sneaky. It couldn’t care less which witch is which and thinks it’s hilarious to leave you with bear bares, when you should have bare bears.
OK. Now. Are you black and blue, yet? Tough. Get used to it. The Editor might only have rubber bullets, but they can still flamin’ well hurt! And he’s in nice mode.
Really. He is.
But the good news is that you do get used to Basic Training. Eventually. After all, the fitter you are, the longer, faster and easier the route march is. In the meantime, well... at least you’re still alive.
Hey! Psst! If you’re having trouble with grammar and stuff, there are links below to some underground guides. Just don’t tell the Editor, or we’ll all be on punctuation rations for a month!
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B White
My Grammar and I by Caroline Taggart and J.A Wines
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss