Monday, March 7, 2011
Tell Me a Story
Recently I attended a panel at an MWA meeting entitled, “Why We Stop Reading.” Author/teacher, Hallie Ephron, was the host, joined by an editor and an agent. Each panelist was asked to list the stop lights that caused them to quit reading a manuscript submission. Confusing plot, stereotyped characters, clichés, misleading dialogue, bad spelling and grammar, were among those mentioned. But the single, biggest stop light — by far, was: Lack of a good story.
The fact that, as readers, the panelists didn’t care what happened next. This is the most common reason why manuscripts are rejected.
As writers, it is easy to get lost in our own quirky whims and desires — to be cute, different, and obscure (also known as pretentious), and forget the one, basic, elemental reason for writing: to tell a good story.
We should repeat this maxim every night before we go to bed, and every morning before we get up, and whenever we sit down to write.
It can never be repeated too often.
Now, repeat after me. TELL A GOOD STORY!
— Robin Hathaway