Friday, January 9, 2009

Making a Good Impression

"Fiction writers should have a good grasp of the language, but most of all they must be storytellers. A really good story can compensate for less-than-brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story." -- James A Janke in Creative Writing Tips
I agree. Writers need to have a good grasp of the language. I don’t agree that a good story can overcome writing that’s “less-than-brilliant.” Perhaps this depends on how not-so-close-to-brilliant the writing is. As an editor, I lose interest in a story that contains incorrect word usage and/or poor grammar. This kind of writing slows me down as a reader. As an author, I agonize over every comma, word, sentence and paragraph. If I’m not sure about the proper punctuation, I grab The Chicago Manual of Style off the shelf and look it up. (It's also available online for a $30.00 yearly subscription here.) This all happens during later drafts of a story, of course. I use the first few revisions to get the story down and the plot tightened. Then I tackle the mechanics in an effort to submit a piece that shows me off as a writer who has a “good grasp of the language.”

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