Monday, May 11, 2020

What Works For One May Not Work For Another

I was thinking about this idea today and had planned on just writing about submissions, but I think I will extend on this and also talk about approaches to writing. Basically, you get a 2 for 1 special today!

Let's start with submissions.

This is something that I find myself putting into a lot of rejections letters to authors. I simply say that even the story did not work for me, there is not reason why it might not work for someone else. This is so true. I know I have seen projects that I thought were not that impressive or simply did not connect with me, and then later, I see that project taking off with another agent. Why does this happen? It is that subjective nature of this business. As editors and agents, we all have different tastes in what we like and what we don't like. This is not an issue of the writer having to do something different to make the story "better." This is all about finding that right person at the right time.

So, don't panic if you get a rejection letter (unless of course we have said your writing is a big piece of garbage and we hate you). Just think that this might be a good time to sit down, do some more research, and find the right place for your story.

Now, let's focus on the writing part of this statement.

I get really frustrated when I see workshops or posts by "specialists" who claim their approach is a guarantee for getting your story published. We see this all of the time. "If you do your query this way, it is a certainty editors will take your story in a heartbeat." Look, if you believe this, I have this great tonic that cures everything from the common cold to sore backs. We call that snake oil!

When it comes to writing, an approach, a plot device, a certain structural approach to a story may work for one author, but not for another author. The same goes for each of your own stories. The concept and the plot of your story dictates what is going to work and what will not work.

I am reminded of two students I had in class many years ago. These two were inseparable. But when it came to doing work, they each had to do things differently. It took a while for them to figure it out. One kid could do math entirely in his head. No need for scratch paper or anything. The kids was just good at math. His friend however, kept trying to take the same approach and was always doing poorly. For him, he had to find out that using scratch paper and doing things the longer way was his approach.

For me, I have a particular way I like to approach writing stories or writing query letters or even a synopsis. It works for me. So, when I get on the blog here and make recommendations, this is just one approach. It may or may not work for you. What I can say is to give it a try. It might not work for you at first, or maybe it doesn't work for that project. But if your approach is not working, it might be time to try something new.

Just remember, that are multiple paths you can take to the same result.

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