What sets a good writer apart from a subpar writer? Is it the genre they explore, the writing style/voice they adopt, the point of view they use (first vs third person), is it the length of the works they write, is it how well they command the language – flawless, with flair and error free first draft on? What is it that makes a good writer?
Are you really thinking that Stephen King is a much better writer than Dan Brown, or Brown is better than Paulo Coelho, or would you consider Cecelia Ahern your ideal? Does popularity really mean better? Then, in that regard J K Rowling is the best of them all! Where does that place the popular writers of Twilight and Hunger Games series? What do writers have in common, even if they are the likes of Bryce Courtney, Jane Austin, or even Shakespeare?
They EDIT! We all do. No writer sits down and writes a perfect copy in one go. It takes drafts upon drafts, and edit upon edit to get it to even remotely get close to what goes on in the mind. Here is another thing, ask a writer who has published their books if they thought the ‘final’ version was the best, and I bet they will still find things that need more care.
I’m not trying to pick out specific writers nor books, just making a point that there are many writers to choose from, many genre that have rallied the readers, formed cults and following, turned into movies etc. Writers are varied, with varying styles and writing habits, but all writers edit.
Here is another question to you: do you think a writer’s command of the language is what spells their merit? Or that all writers are perfect in the writing department that they never have to worry about grammar, punctuation and such?
Here is what I’d like to reveal: when writers write that first draft of a work it will be far from perfect grammatically and punctuation wise, nor will the flow of the story be just right, nor would there be much care taken to fill in the details. Why? Because, they are in a hurry to jot down everything that’s coming to them immediately. In fact, most writer will probably never show the very first draft of their works to anyone! Yes, that’s right, writers aren’t perfect, their stories aren’t perfect when taking cues from a blurry picture in the writer’s mind. Writers make mistakes. Writers are not necessarily language obsessed. They are actually more concerned with the ‘flow’ of the story rather than how they should approach the writing.
Once a skeleton is drawn out there is always time to fill in with muscles and skin. Otherwise, why else would there be such a wide market of editing and consulting services if writers were perfect to begin with? Think about it! Half the writing industry people would be without a job!
So, in this festive season, take a deep breath, appreciate your own creative process, or if you are a reader, appreciate the effort each writer puts in to each story they write no matter whether that story has hit the best-selling list or grabbed a movie deal.
Happy holidays, and to all who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas. And to all, a wonderful New Years ahead!