Quality vs Quantity

pexels-photo-851213.jpeg

I touched on this subject a while back but this time I want to take a different approach.

A former co-worker and avid reader once described a book she’d read this way: a whole lot of fluff. The author wrote a bunch of nothing to fill the pages with words that don’t say anything! Regardless of the genre you write, filling pages to meet a novel’s standard word count of about 60,000 to 80,000 is not quality.

Ever hear the expression “less is more?” I say that’s true for your writing too.

When I write, I want to take the time to produce good quality novels. No matter how fast I pen the first draft, I take my time to edit it. When that’s done, I work with my editor on rewrites. If, instead, I am too busy hurrying to write my next stories, to the point that I sacrifice and substitute quality for quantity, how can I expect my readers to enjoy it and give it me a good review?

In part, I could say I’ve been there and done that. It’s what I did with my first novel. Not knowing any better, I didn’t ask proofreaders to go over it after me. I was so excited and yes, too much in a rush to see it in print. In reality, it wasn’t ready to be published. I later pulled it because when I worked with my editor on the next novel and compared it with the first, I realized it wasn’t fit to publish. My readers had told me they loved the story, but it was so poorly written.

Show, don’t tell has become my favourite way to add good quality words without all the fluff that doesn’t say anything. Especially when I decided to use all five senses.

What else can you do to produce good quality writing? Ask people to proofread your work. Someone who’s not afraid to give you a good critique. A new “set of eyes” is key to pick up what you’ve missed.

Listen to your critique’s suggestions, correct the typos and errors, and rewrite whatever needs your attention. Easy peasy, right? But it doesn’t end there.

When you’re done, ask them to proofread it again. Want a better suggestion? Ask someone who’s not familiar with the story. I had four proofreaders. For the most part, they all caught the same mistakes. One of them, however (I’ve always said she should have been a biologist) loved to dissect my stories. She found things the others had missed.

Proofreaders don’t have to be professionals. They don’t even have to be writers. As long as they are honest, good readers. You have to be a good listener.

Lastly, hire an editor. Hey, think about it, if established writers have editors, who says we can do this on your own?

Good quality books will make a lasting impression on those who read them. Isn’t it why we write? To reach and touch the heart, soul, and mind of people?

Don’t substitute quality over quantity. It’s not worth it.

Advertisements

“Don’t ruin your name.”

With today’s technology, we writers have so much electronic help at our disposal. We put fingers to keyboards instead of pen to paper (for the most part). We have programs that spell-check everything and sometimes will even ask, ‘Did you mean this?’  when we use certain homonyms. Thre’s the Internet with online dictionaries, thesauruses, and a slew of other reference books and so much more.

My favourite gadget is Kindle. When I go anywhere to write, I can take all the reference books I need on one device. My favourite app? MS Word, which is available on most devices nowadays. I save my documents to OneDrive (another awesome tool) and access them from anywhere with my iPhone. Anywhere I go, you can see me jotting down ideas in another great app called A Novel Idea, or working on my WIP.

Okay so we’ve established that technology has evolved a lot over the years, and it has taken our writing to a whole new level. In many ways, I must say it’s a good thing.

There is however one thing—or rather one person—technology will never be able to replace. Your editor. No gadget can do that kind of work as efficiently. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a real live person to go over your manuscript and work not only for you but also with you. Why?

After you’ve read something often enough, you’ve memorize it. When editing, you know what’s coming and no longer see the typos/grammatical errors. Your brain reads what it’s supposed to say but fails to see what’s really there. That’s why it’s so important to pass it to someone else, to get another set of eyes.

WIN_20160629_185858

Actual page from my last novel (c)

When I attended my very first Christian Writers Conference, I was still working on my first novel. I went there to learn and hadn’t planned on meeting with any editors or agents. After some prompting from my new writer-friends, I arrived at my first ever meeting totally unprepared. The editor read only half of the first page and stopped. For me, a newbie, the words that followed were brutal. ‘Don’t publish that book. You’re gonna ruin your name.’ Ouch! How that hurt! I knew my book wasn’t ready, but I didn’t think it was that bad. The next day, after I’d given it some thought and re-read that page, I returned to say thanks. Yes, it was that bad. It needed work. A lot of it.

Please understand, I’m not trying to deter or scare anyone who’s planning editor/agent meetings at their next conference. On the contrary, I want to stress the importance of acquiring an editor. If you walk in prepared, you’re bound to have a good meeting and might even land a contract.

My biggest piece of advice to any writers out there: do not attempt to replace your editor with any kind of technology. Yes, some editors may be expensive, I get that, but they’re worth every penny and then some.

Regardless what kind of gadgets you get, or how much money you invest, no amount of technology, programs, apps, or reference books will ever be able to replace your editor. You won’t get all the perks he/she has to offer in any of the above mentioned tools. Ever!

So now, are you done writing that novel? You think it’s ready? Acquire an editor and let him/her be the judge of that. Don’t ruin your good name