Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Writing

The following question was posed to Jessica over at BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency: I know good writing when I read it, but how can you tell if your own writing is good enough?

Jessica's response: I don’t think you can tell anything about your own writing and that’s the tricky thing in this business. There is no ruler to compare your writing or your ideas to. Ultimately it either catches fire or it doesn’t. Good writing, like a good story, is somewhat subjective. Sure, we can all look at great authors and say that person was a great writer, but it’s just as easy to argue that someone else was or wasn’t great depending on your own opinion. My advice is to move on to your next book (making sure it’s not the next book in series) and keep writing. With each book your writing improves and you learn more about yourself and your craft and that’s the smartest thing a writer can do.

Go check out what else she said, and scroll through the comments.

Now, since there is a point to this post . . . we pretty much think we're all writing the next great novel. Oh, come on, stand up and admit it. We're all in love with our writing. I'd be worried if we weren't in love with our writing. I mean, if I don't love what I'm writing, if I don't have faith in my abilities as a writer . . . well, then how in the heck am I going to sell this project??

I'm not!

What's more important than loving my writing, is knowing that there isn't a surefire way to measure the greatness of my writing. You see, everything depends on the fact that my brilliantly executed idea either catches fire or it doesn't. Why? Because . . . good writing,like a good story, is somewhat subjective.


Repeat after me: S-U-B-J-E-C-T-I-V-E!


If an agent doesn't like my story about a margarita drinking gladiator named Tyrone out to save the world . . . well, I'm probably going to get a form rejection letter or no response at all.

If an agent loves my story . . . well, I might get a request for a partial or full manuscript. Woo-hoo!

Still, everything is . . . S-U-B-J-E-C-T-I-V-E!

I think what is most important of all, is believing in myself and understanding that there is no true measure of the brilliance of my writing. No. True. Measure.

What does all this mean? It means, write, write, and write some more. Read, read, and read some more. Follow blogs, follow blogs, and follow more blogs. Learn the craft. Hone the craft. Execute your ideas brilliantly. LOVE. YOUR. WRITING!

Aim for perfection time, and time, and time again! Don't. GIVE. UP!

So, here I am at the end of the post and I don't have a single question to ask, dear readers! Not one. Not one, not two, nothing but none! How in the heck did that happen? Hey, I have a question! Woo-hoo!

Well, for funsies . . . what is your absolute favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Mine is Green Eggs and Ham!! LOVE! IT!



Marybeth Poppins said...

So I was you think this is a subjective business?????

Michelle said...

The Lorax. At one point when I was teaching, I realized I had memorized it. Rhyming with an environmentally friendly message!

Subjective is the word I keep reading in rejection letters. "I'm not the right person to represent this work, but this is a very subjective business..."

Scott said...

Marybeth - ya think? What, no favorite book?

Michelle - ah, you remembered to mention your favorite book (kidding, Marybeth). I have the same problem with Green Eggs and Ham. I know the book forward and back, left and right, in the dark or light . . .oh, no . . .

The industry is very subjective. I just think we, as writers, must stay true to ourselves, what what we believe in, and hunt and hunt and hunt for the agent who believes in what we write as well.


Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Old Hat, New Hat was my favorite. I love that he decides what he had is still perfect.

Davin Malasarn said...

I'd also have to pick Green Eggs and Ham, although I don't think I've read a Seuss book I didn't like.

I do agree that writing is subjective, but only partially. I honestly think at least some components of it can be evaluated objectively. A good critique will strive to come up with those sorts of objective markers.

Scott said...

Davin - I agree with you. I just think it's the subjective things that can be deterimental to a writer's thinking, especially if said writer writes about something they're not passionate about - say, vampires - because it's the current trend. Note to self: must write vampire novel . . . NOT! : )


ElanaJ said...

This is so true, Scott. Everything is so subjective, even from what we watch on TV to what we buy at the grocery store to the types of clothes we wear. I don't know why writing and reading would be different. Yet, somehow we think it is.

And dude, Go! Dogs! Go! is the best Dr. Seuss book. Those dogs, they never give up. It's not too far. Ha!

Marybeth Poppins said...

um.... There's a Wocket in My Pocket