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Mss Stack

Some of the mss, each another rewrite, of a novel


I had a friend who aspired to be a tennis player at the tournament-pro level. His pro/mentor told him he had to hit 2000 balls a day That means he needed to practice the equivalent of about ten sets per day. Every day. Most professional athletes expect to work that hard honing their profession. A mystery to many professional writers is why non-writers seem to think they can write with no apprenticeship. While it is true that we speak English and tell stories every day, this is not writing.

Writing well is hard and takes much practice. I have noticed, and heard many others confirm, that books by well-known writers with xxx, are rarely worth reading. In fact, I have been surprised that Mr. Well-Known allowed his name to be used on a story. I would think, at a minimum, they would read the crap using their name. Better, if they required that an excellent editor go over the novel to eliminate the big errors, at least fewer would have so many complaints.

So what sort of training should a new writer expect to complete? The often repeated rule of thumb is a million words. It may be easier to understand, if you think of three novels, with three rewrites of each. If you’re lucky you may be able to write a dozen novels, hopefully using an obscure pen-name, in some genre that has no interest in the writing quality. An often-used genre is erotica or porn or whatever you chose to call it.

Nearly every writer I’ve researched has at least one early novel stuffed in box or drawer, one that they will never show anyone. With their million word threshold long since passed, they can see how feeble their first attempts were. And most of these writers came from backgrounds where they had been writing for years before they attempted that never-to-be-seen novel.

Charles Finch, author of a dozen published mysteries, observed: Trailing behind every successful writer are a million words that never saw the light of day. Sometimes it takes five million words.