Writing Tip of the Day: Improve Your Craft

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You know that about 99% of the queries that come in to my inbox get rejected. I’m not unique in this statistic. Most agents that I’ve spoken to have the same track record. 1 out of 100 hit the mark. I know that must be really daunting to hear, as a writer. On the agent end of it, it’s also dismaying. This past week, as I’ve been going through queries and reading a few full manuscripts that I’ve requested, what’s come up a number of times is, “I love the premise of this! I wish the writing were better…”

As an agent, I unfortunately don’t have the time (or inclination, really) to teach a client how to write. You need to come into the relationship with your skills intact. I can nurture you along, but I just can’t teach you to write. In order to garner more success on your quest to get your manuscript published, the best thing you can do is to really work on your craft. If you’ve pounded out a novel but have never read a book about the craft of writing, never taken a writing class, never been to a writing conference, workshop, retreat or seminar, there’s a really good chance you’re not going to succeed. Not because you don’t have talent, but because you need certain skills. So do yourself a favor, give your stories the best chance they can get: educate yourself.

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6 responses to “Writing Tip of the Day: Improve Your Craft

  1. Pingback: GUEST POST: 6 Revision Tips to (Hopefully) Impress an Agent | The Blabbermouth - Linda P. Epstein

  2. It’s amazing that people still send in unpolished work or don’t read the guidelines for certain publications first… How can one take them seriously if they don’t even take the time to perfect every aspect of their work?

  3. Joseph McGee

    I just posted a link to this entry on my VCFA MFA class page to remind my peers, when they are banging their heads against the desk, WHY (one of the reasons at least) we are doing this to ourselves. We can always (and should always) be sharpening our sword.

  4. Pingback: Feedback from a Literary Agent: A Tale of Two Stories | The Blabbermouth - Linda P. Epstein

  5. Lots of people are just not ready to query, and it’s a tough lesson to learn.

    Oh, Linda, if you could read the abomination that is my first “practice” novel. I should query you with it under a fake name, just to make you want to pull your hair out a little bit.

    The 2nd “practice” novel was no better. The third sucked for four drafts, because the protag was unlikable and I killed the baby. Then it got better, and it became Boifriend. 😛

  6. So then you may roduce a lyrical manuscrit, or break new ground, or whatever. Then you have to find a way off the slush pile!