Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Question From A Reader: The Quality of Younger Writers

Over the weekend, I was working at a swim meet, and one of the officials was asking me about the newer writers we are seeing now. He is an avid reader (not of romance) and always went to his go-to authors so had not seen a lot of the newer authors. So. his question was simple, "Has the quality of the submissions changed since I first opened the agency?"

The answer to this is simple, and unfortunately, not a positive answer. Yes, it has changed and I am seeing a decline in the quality of the work.

Yes, I do believe there is potential out there, and no, I do not think the "great writers" have all taken different approaches and are doing it all on their own. What I am seeing is a real lack of development from the writers. The writing, character development, plotting and submission package is very elementary.

I do believe a lot of this has to do with a lack of emphasis on learning the basics of writing and the publishing industry. For example, I recently read a post on a historical writing group on Facebook. One author asked a question about editing. Apparently he isn't finished with his novel and wanted to know whether or not he should take the time to edit the story or would the editors just do it for him? In this case, we have an author who really needs to understand the process

I have submissions that see the same thing. I have blogged about a lot of them here in the past. People who seem to think a agent and publisher are the same thing. People, who submit handwritten manuscripts to me so I can get the projects typed for them...the list goes on and on.

But even those that do seem to understand the world of publishing, have stories that really lack that maturity in terms of the writing. In a lot of the cases, I can tell you what book or writing workshop the author took by the use of the plot devices, tropes or character story types, he or she used. People are writing stories because they seem to think "this is what we are supposed to do" and not "this is what the story calls for."

There is a light and positive side of this. I do believe we can improve on this. Conferences, other blogs and social media sites, writing organizations and the journals need to make a huge effort to push the basics. We have to get people back to practicing the skills of writing. Learn the craft! Regardless of how we want to publish, the quality of the story still needs to be there. Without it, you will lose the readers we have, and as we all know, that number is dwindling.

Your homework is to really spend you Spring Break working on your craft. Take the next couple of weeks practicing and studying the art of writing. You may learn a lot!

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