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Dear fellow aspiring professional writers,

There is nothing so disappointing as picking up a book you cannot wait to read, and setting it down before you even get to Chapter One, due to bad writing.

Don’t get me wrong: I completely see why so many writers have turned to independently publishing their books. It is NOT easy to get noticed by a major publisher unless you’re already published. And with all the new software and avenues to reach readers… why not self-publish?

I say go for it! I say, get your best work out there. But I also say you should give your best work its best shot, and I promise you that 9 times out of 10, your best shot is a helluva lot more than your one friend who knows how to spell and all of your very supportive and well-meaning friends who don’t know how to string a narrative together and have no interest in writing anyway.

Please. For the love of all that is beautiful. Get an editor. PAY someone to look at your work. Be willing to grow. Be willing to let them tear your baby to shreds to build it up even stronger. DO NOT PUBLISH YOURSELF WITHOUT DOING THIS FIRST. This is more than spelling and comma placement. This is character development, and the movement of a scene, and knowing the difference between premise and concept. (You DO know the difference, right?)

There are SO MANY fantastic premises being sold all the time–I should know, I keep buying the books. And then I put them down after reading the freaking prologue. THE PROLOGUE. And I get disgusted all over again and swear off indie-pubbed books, because they’re so poorly written. But you never know, so the next one MIGHT be good. It’s worth a peek…

My dear writers, a reader putting your book down in disgust is Not Good. You don’t want that book out of any reader’s hands until “The End.” Otherwise, you’ll never see them again.

And WHY is the book getting dropped before we even get to Chapter One? In my latest instance, it’s because the author was wasting my time, and proving that she doesn’t know how to weave a story. SO MANY PROLOGUES are a waste of space. If it’s someone’s backstory (the most common and egregious misuse of prologue space), bring it out in dialogue. Please don’t waste my time showing me That One Moment That Changed Everything. I don’t care. I don’t know your characters yet, so I have no reason to care. GIVE ME A REASON TO CARE, BEFORE YOU TELL ME HOW EVERYTHING CHANGED IN THAT ONE MOMENT.

The only time you should be touching a prologue with anything other than a flame thrower is if there is literally no other way to get that information across. Anne McCaffrey does this in her Dragonriders of Pern books, using the prologue to show events that happened so far in the past of her characters’ world that everyone has forgotten them–but they have shaped the very world they live in. Times like this a prologue is appropriate, but these times are FAR more rare than most indie-pubbed writers seem to think.

And for the love of cookies, I don’t care how erotic your book is: please don’t open it by talking about anyone’s genitals. Not even porn does that. They at least have the decency to have the pizza delivery guy knock on the door first.

Okay. I’m done. I’m going back to the book that inspired this post. Wish me luck. Better yet, wish them luck. I’m ready for a good roast right now.

Sincerely,

She who buys indie pubbed books and is tired of being let down

 

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2 thoughts on “Dear fellow aspiring professional writers,”

  1. I’m reading a book now that I was not overly thrilled with ( a lot of the cheap/free books on amazon are indie pubs) and I was thinking, “the tone is fine but I’m not connecting with the characters yet and I’m 5 chapters in”

    Then, BOOM, new chapter and she took the main female character so far out of her comfort zone that I could see myself in that moment. Hooked!! Then, she had the main male character say, “Don’t yell at the birthday girl” as a reminder to himself and I could totally see that happening.

    Still, to be this far in and only now connecting with the characters? It’s frustrating!

    1. Exactly so.

      There is a book for screenwriters called Save The Cat!, and it gets the title from the fact that most novie screenwriters forget to put in that moment where the main character saves the cat from the tree, thus showing they are people worthy of rooting for.

      Honestly, STC is great for any kind of writer wanting to better their craft. It’s not the ONLY way to build a story, using that structure has made a lot of money for a lot of writers, so it can’t be all bad. LOL!

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