Learn the craft of writing

Many would be writers fail before they start.

They fail because they have not learned the basics of the craft of writing. They assume that they can write a best seller on the basis of their ability to string together a few words. They have not done their apprenticeship in the craft of writing. Then they get upset because their manuscript gets rejected the first time they send it to a publisher.

Time for a reality check.

I read recently about a successful editor working for a large publishing company who stated that at least 80% of manuscripts fail in the first page or two and deserved to be rejected. That’s a staggering statistic. Novice writers are almost all rejected because they fail to study or understand the writing and publishing process.

This editor made some simple to follow observations:

  1. Follow the publisher’s guidelines to the letter. Most writers don’t bother to do this basic first step and so their manuscript will be rejected. That is the harsh reality whether they like it or not.
  2. Format the manuscript correctly. Presentation is everything. Most  publishers have their own way they require a manuscript to be presented. Find out what that is and follow it.
  3. Check the grammar. A poor grasp of the English language, its structures, formalities and conventions will make it easy for the editor to reject a manuscript. If you lack confidence or knowledge in this area get someone to teach you – or find a book or course to help you.
  4. Check the spelling. Spelling mistakes can and must be avoided. Check every word, recheck and check again. When writing my current novel I’m on the 7th draft and I’m still finding typos.
  5. Check the punctuation. Again, check, double check and then some more. Get someone else to check the manuscript for you. Pay a professional copy-editor to check it for you. You will be amazed at how many simple errors can creep in under the radar.

In short – give yourself the best possible chance of having your manuscript accepted for publication.

Good writing.

Great Cricketing Feat?

I just had to share this.

It has little to do with writing or blogging, except that it is a gentle little lesson on the importance of proofreading what you write.

Not only do I have a delicate sense of humour, I also have a passion for cricket.

I was reading this report on the days proceedings in the cricket (on CricInfo) between Sri Lanka and South Africa. Two Sri Lankan batsmen broke all sorts of records with a world record partnership of 624. The country, in gratitude, decided to award them a prize. For their Herculean efforts? Well, read on, it appears not:

That is stumps on day 3. What a day, records being broken. A world record partnership of 624 runs between Jayawardene and Sangakkara, they broke the record when they reached 577. This is also the highest partnership in first class cricket. Jayawardene became the highest scorer for Sri Lanka when he surpassed Jayasuriya’s 340, he finally got out on 374. He is now fourth in the all time list of highest individual innings. South Africa in their second innings are battling on, they are 43 for no loss.

There are some presentations to be given. Cars being presented to Sangakkara and Jayawardene for their remarkable feet. A wonderful gesture.

So there you go, it was their :remarkable feet” which made all the difference in their ability to achieve this remarkable feat. And you thought it was all in the batting technique. All those years of batting practice you wasted when you could have been belting out the runs if only you had a good podiatrist.

Yes, well.

Quite remarkable indeed.

Thanks to Chris on the Qwertyrash Blogs for this article. (Sorry – the link to this blog no longer exists.)

Updated and edited November 2013.