I stayed up late last night doing critiques. I thought I’d get three or four done–as always, I have a stack to do. I didn’t. I got one done and a solid start on a second one.
Some would cringe at devoting that much time to a single entry. But writers are a giving lot and helping each other is the norm, so you’ll see no cringing there, though it does make for rough schedules. But it’s worth it, and one of the reasons I love the profession. We train our competition–willingly, and take great joy in doing so. This entry was worth every second of time devoted to it.
You see, storytelling is the sole element that can’t be taught. I’ve said it many times and believe it down to the marrow of my bones. You’ve got it or you don’t. And this entry was written by a wonderful storyteller with a unique voice that captivated. The story was perfect for its targeted genre. The characters were well developed, worthy of their story roles. So with all of this being so right, what was the time-eating challenge?
Mechanics. This terrific story and these terrific characters were mired down in a tomb of mechanical pitfalls. When that happens, it jars the reader the way a jackhammer jars your teeth and blows out your ears. When we read, we do so with that inner ear, and so cadence and rhythm (and pacing) are critically important.
Every year for many years I’ve polled editors at major publishers and asked why they most often rejected manuscripts. And every year for many years, these same things surface. Oh, there are the usual rejections because the proposed project didn’t fit on the publisher’s list, and the similarities between the writing of existing authors on the publishers’ lists with the proposed project, but overwhelmingly, mechanical challenges topped the list.
That’s good news. Mechanics can be taught.
If you’d like to read more on the top mechanical challenges (those that surface again and again on the poll), there’s an article in my website writer’s library (www.vickihinze.com in the A-P Library. Common Mechanical Pitfalls).
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Tags: critique, tact, authors, emerald coast writers, novelists, emerald coast writers, books, CREATIVE WRITING, writing craft