Friday, March 2, 2012

You Cannot Buy Quality Writing

I am always amazed at the number of authors out there that will include in their email the comments from the professional free-lance editor who worked over the manuscript I am reading. For many authors, there is a belief that "paying" someone to edit the work for them will somehow make the work amazing. I am sorry to say this, but this is not going to produce quality writing.

As someone who does free-lance critiques, I know that I can only provide so much help to a writer. The same goes for the editors and agents out there that send revision letters for submissions and new proposals. We can only do so much for the writer. In the end, it is up to the writer to "pull the trigger" and execute those changes successfully.

Along the same lines, quality writing starts with a great premise and concept. Again, I see a lot of projects that, regardless of the amount of time we work with dialogue, narration and so forth, the premise is something that will simply not get the writer very far. In reality, the writing is simply C level writing and we cannot do much more beyond this.

I would also have to add that paying for these external critiques is only as good as who you are paying. Read any writing magazine and there are a ton of writers out there offering "critique/editing" services. But do we know anything about their ability to really help? Do we know anything about what they will do for you? For example, I have seen an advertisement for editing services from one particular author. The add makes things sound really good. However, when you research who this person is, they have only produced two books in their career and those came over 10 years ago. You also have to add in the fact that this author hasn't done anything since that time. This should make you question.

The key thing to remember is, consider what you are paying for. Also, you have to consider the quality of your writing before you send it in.

Scott

4 comments:

  1. You get what you pay for. Editing is no different. But is it okay to mention in the query letter that the manuscript was edited, without mentioning any comments, of course?

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  2. Why would you want to mention that the manuscript was edited? Catch an agent on the wrong day and they might take that the wrong way, no? :/

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  3. Good comments, Scott. As an editor, I find it most troubling when I get a manuscript with a good story idea and good characters but pedestrian writing. Sometimes I can spur the writer to liven things up, sometimes not. For the latter, the writing will always be okay but miss the mark and they'll never understand why. It makes me sad for them. However, as in everything, the desire to learn and grow is personal. If you don't have it, you don't have it.

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