Recently while cooking I was tempted to substitute two ingredients in a beloved recipe. I resisted temptation because I remembered the time a friend had invited me over to dine.
She’d promised a group of us a fine meal, and convinced us to come by telling us she would be using her mother’s chicken divan recipe, even flashing the index card under our nose with her mother’s fancy script as evidence.
Yet after taking our first bite, we found the feast inedible.
We loved her mother’s cooking. How could she have gone wrong when she had her mother’s recipe?
At my first conference this season, I sat down with a frustrated writer who showed me several rejection letters, then asked me to read the first several pages of her manuscript and tell her why it had not been accepted by a publisher.
I struggled to read the first page, and immediately saw why it had been rejected.
Times like this I stop and pray for the kindest way to tell the writer before me the problem. This writer needed to back up the bus and learn the craft of writing. Putting a lot of words on a page is not enough.
By all means be creative, but if it’s been recommended you do this, and you keep doing that, the result will be an undesirable manuscript.
If you want to write suspense, do you know the correct way a suspense storyline is to develop? What makes a title a women’s fiction rather than a romance? There are no substitutions or shortcuts if you want a chance to grab an agent or editors attention.
Learn and practice the craft. How does one write convincing character, plot development, point of view, and dialog that makes sense?
Several resources I like to recommend are:
All writing resource books by James Scott Bell
Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird
The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron
And I particularly love Austin Kleon’s books, Steal Like and Artist and Show Your Work. Excellent books to encourage all creative’s.
I am currently reading: You Are a Writer: So Start Acting Like One by Jeff Goins. So far, I would recommend it.
Note: I take a philosophical approach to writing, so this partial list is of course subjective. I recommend you read the outline and free sample pages offered on Amazon under the ‘look inside’ button, before purchasing any of my recommendations.