At the start of my writing classes, a student always seems to ask, “Could a novel with a great story but mediocre or poor writing technique be successful?
Writing Tip for Today: Behind the question, there’s usually a desperate would-be author, scared of the long process of learning his or her craft. But beyond that, here are some things to consider:
- Communication is King. Writing with skill not only helps readers understand a book’s message or story, it also helps them transcend the mundane and enter a different realm. If the reader cannot understand what you the author are trying to say, your efforts may be largely wasted.
- Word Count Equals Practice. If you as writer don’t want to bother with the 10,000 hours of practice it may take to learn the writing craft, maybe you don’t really want to be a writer. You want to HAVE WRITTEN. You want to be an AUTHOR. In my opinion, the real joy of writing comes not in seeing your name on a bestseller list (although that’s great too!), but in wrestling with an unruly chapter, paragraph, or sentence and subduing it into its best form.
- Story Trumps Technique. Every time. Readers read for lots of reasons, but perhaps foremost (after seeking info in nonfiction) they long to be part of a story. A novel with wonderful poetic writing but a weak or nonexistent story will have a tough time getting recognized. It’s not fair, but a terrific story with weak writing has a better chance of connecting with readers. Most of the time, though, a novel needs both a great story and the best writing technique it can get. Both writing craft and storytelling ability matter–a lot. So get thy BIC and practice the three P’s!