It seems everyone want to be a writer these days. The unfortunate part of that desire is too many want to be a writer without taking the time to find out what needs to be done to be a writer. With all the self-publishing avenues available today, far too many authors are putting out books that aren’t ready.
Who made me the expert? Besides being the published author of over 20 books, for many years I’ve been judging books in several contests. Too often I see books with good plot ideas, but it’s obvious the author didn’t have an editor to catch all the mistakes. A book riddled with errors won’t ever win a prize.
Far too often, it’s obvious the writer isn’t a reader. How could I know that? If you’re a reader, you know how dialogue is supposed to be written, where the quote marks should be, how to use action and character description for dialogue tags, making sure the dialogue is coming from people who are in a place, doing something and not merely “talking heads.” Dialogue has a purpose to move the plot along and reveal character.
When there are no indents for paragraphs, far too many explanation points instead of just using exclamatory dialogue and narrative, punctuation used incorrectly, or not at all, then I am reasonably sure the author is not a reader. Reading is essential to being a good writer. He or she should be reading the kind of books he or she wants to write.
If the author has no idea how point-of-view should be handled and jumps in and out of the heads of characters without any transition, it’s a pretty good guess he or she hasn’t read any books on writing, attended a writers’ conference, or belonged to a critique group. Too many people think that they can just start writing without learning how to do it correctly. No one would expect to walk into a hospital and start operating on someone without learning how to be a surgeon first.
It’s no different with writing. Don’t expect to be a writer until you’ve done some studying about the craft. Then write, write, write. But before you send anything off to an agent or publisher, or publish it yourself, make sure someone who knows the rules of writing edits the manuscript.