Let me start by saying that these aren’t my words. By the power of Gray Skull, I wish they were because they’re brilliant, wonderful words, but they aren’t mine. As a member of several writer groups on Facebook, I try to give advice where I can, especially to those looking to self-publish or seeking a publisher. Sometimes, however, I come across someone who has given such a valuable gem that I feel the need to share it with everyone. The following quote is from Angela Elliott. I’ll post her social info at the end of this so you can follow her and go buy her books.
As a professional writer (scripts for broadcast TV, Hollywood films, documentaries) since 1988, and as a trade published author since 2005, I have a lot of experience and knowledge to share about the business. One thing I’ve noticed about most of the ‘writers’ to have emerged since the advent of the self-publishing revolution is that most focus on ‘writing’ and being a ‘writer’ and few focus on story. In doing so they serve up dry pieces of prose, with little imagination and very little real story. Oh, they might think they have a story to tell, but they’re coming at it from the arse end of it, if you will. They think that ‘getting the paragraph right’, or getting the opening lines right. or any such combination of grammatical technicalities will fix things. If your story isn’t right. Nothing will save it. Not good grammar. Not fabulous characters. Not any amount of well-written blurb.
Story is at the very heart of the matter. Forget everything else, grammar, tenses, characterisation, genre – yes those are important, but they come later. First and foremost comes the story – and by that I don’t mean plot. I mean story. Story is something that is older than words on paper. Story is intrinsic to the human condition. If you are a real storyteller you will find a way to tell your story, whether or not you have mastered the complexities of the English language (or any other language, come to think of it). You will tell a tale that will give us that ‘aaaah’ feeling when we finish reading. You will connect with the human spirit. So, my best advice for aspiring writers is forget about ‘being a writer’. Strive to be a teller of tales instead. That’s it. Advice over.