I am trying to become a writer. Yes, I know that this is writing, but I’m talking about fiction, the kind people buy. My first effort was a start, but one that didn’t interest any literary agents. I understand. Even if my work is genuinely good, it’s still a random manuscript thrown over the transom. There’s little chance it will be noticed.
What I’m doing is futile by all accounts, like buying a lottery ticket and counting on it winning. Sure, somebody will win. The odds are overwhelming that it won’t be me. Still, I can’t win if I don’t buy a ticket. I spend my days trying to tell a story.
I entered my first book in BookLife’s annual contest. It’s a chance for a professional to critique my writing. The writing is graded on a scale from 1 to 10. This is my report card:
Plot: The plot here will ultimately gratify readers who are especially drawn to romance: girl meets the perfect man, girl makes tons of money. While there is trouble, tension, and a somewhat compelling mystery element, the romance lasts, and the money continues to pour in.
Prose/Style: The prose is rather stilted, with a lack of variety in the sentence structures. Verb tenses switch back and forth between past and present, and the book would benefit from a thorough edit.
Originality: While generally formulaic in its storytelling and concept, this novel introduces a unique plot element concerning the heroine’s professional circumstances.
Character Development/Execution: These characters would be better served by appealing to the reader as authentic and relatable, while the novel’s timeline might also be tweaked to allow events to feel more organic–most significantly, the romance between the protagonists, which comes across as rushed.
- Plot/Idea: 5
- Originality: 4
- Prose: 5
- Character/Execution: 4
- Overall: 4.50
The anonymous reader is a staff reviewer from Publishers Weekly. I can’t argue with the assessment. I wrote the book quickly. I also have no training as a professional writer. My education is scientific. Yup, I need an editor. The problem is that unless I get a publisher, a professional editor is way beyond my ability to hire one.
What does this have to do with male chastity? Nothing. Hey, it’s my blog. I can go off topic if I want.
My second effort is very different from the first. I’m trying to tell a very contemporary story. I’m also trying to get educated on the elements of writing fiction. While it was fun to write the first book, Fan Mail, the second is painful and depressing. I see the glaring flaws in my ability to tell a story. Depressing.
I’m lucky that I’m an optimist by nature. There’s an old joke that comes to mind when I think about quitting:
An old man prays, “God, I have been a good man. I have worked hard and helped the poor. I would like to spend my last days in comfort. Please let me win the lottery.”
A week goes by and he doesn’t win. He prays again, “God, why do you ignore me? I’ve been a good man. Please, please let me win.”
This is repeated week after week for months. Finally, after the man repeats his prayer yet again and says, “God, why do you ignore me? Why can’t you make me a lottery winner? Why? Why?” A deep voice from the sky says, “First you have to buy a ticket.”
I’m not going to get a literary agent simply by wishing for one. I need to buy a ticket. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if someone out in the blogosphere can introduce me to one. Meanwhile, depressed or not, I’m going to write. The world can use one more bad author.