1. BlueSun
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    BlueSun New Member

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    Beginner-Need help!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BlueSun, Aug 24, 2010.

    I'm sure my concerns are common and I'll bet I'm not the first to ask...but here goes:

    Generally, I'm a good writer. I majored in journalism in college and have always been good at expressing ideas through writing. I am not, however, good at punctuation, spelling, and so forth. I'm always uncertain of rules and frankly have no interest in learning them. I'm being honest.

    My husband died recently and left me with two children to raise. There is an interesting story there about our life together before his death. It is pouring out of me right now. I don't know what it will become but should I decide to submit it for publishing, I wouldn't know where to begin. If there is a good story on paper, but lots of mechanical errors, will a publisher automically turn it away? In other words, does a publisher expect perfection in a submitted manuscript? What if I don't have the skills or knowledge but have a great story?

    At this point in my life, I'm really not interested in joining a writing class or studying a writing book. I'm just getting all the thoughts and ideas out right now.

    How do "non-professional" writers get their stories out into the world?

    Thank you for reading and your advice is appreciated.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If your manuscript is laden with technical errors, the publishers will reject it. You must deliver a well-written, thoroughly proofread manuscript.

    It isn't easy to get published. It will take a lot of practice and hard work, and a fair amount of luck as well. Persistence pays off, but you will need a good supply of it.

    But the first thing to do is write your story. You can refine it when it is down on paper (or on disk), but that is the first step.

    Read what other people have written, and read what other writers have learned from the process. This website can help, but read elsewhere as well. You can learn a great deal from other people's mistakes as well as their triumphs.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...yes!...

    ...there's no such thing as perfection when it comes to writing, but they at least require and expect near professional quality 'polished'...

    ...then you either learn/hone the skills and write it yourself, or hire a ghostwriter to do it for you...

    ...see above... however, you should know that a good ghostwriter will cost in the double-digit thousands and there's still no guarantee you'd ever get a publisher to take it on...

    ...i've rewritten a memoir for a lady who had a sad story she needed to tell, but couldn't write well enough and am willing to take a look at yours, but with no promises up front... i do all for free, no strings... email me if you want to discuss it...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  4. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    You need to learn the rules of spelling and punctuation. If you send a manuscript to a publisher which is grammatically incorrect and is riddled with poor spelling then it will be rejected regardless of the quality of the story.

    Personally I'm trying to start off small and I'm trying to get some of my short stories published in literary magazines. I'm using Duotrope's Digest to find a magazine that would be interested in publishing my stories. Hopefully if I get several of them published then I can go to a publisher or agent with my novel and a covering letter explaining that I have been published on a small scale. I think that might increase my chances of getting a good publishing deal.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    If you want to email me a chapter or a one-scene excerpt, I can find the common mistakes you make and show you how to fix them. PM me if you're interested. :)
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mallory is great with punctuation and grammar. Much better than I am:) - I am lousy and struggle as well. My spelling is generally good though. However I recognise this a job and it should be done properly. Find yourself an editor or friend that can help.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Whoa, that was really nice, thank you! :)
     
  8. John Horace
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    John Horace Member

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    Not trying to be mean or anything, but I wonder just when the ability to punctuate properly and spell correctly became divorced from being a "good" writer? It's a package deal, I'm afraid. Certainly, there is no upper limit. I probably have some punctuation errors in this every paragraph. But there comes a point where you have to say, "enough. I'm not a good writer unless I can communicate an acceptably typo-free and acceptably punctuated piece of writing."

    What's more, are you doing this because you want to be a fully-fledged Author? As in, a career? Or do you just want to tell your story? Personally, if I simply wanted to communicate a powerful message that I felt was important, I'd go with (gasp!)self-publishing and give the book away as a gift to my closest friends, perhaps as a christmas present. I'm not trying to become a millionaire with the writing of this book, and thus the retaining of control and creation of this book is more important than getting .5 cents per book and then having it dropped three weeks later for low sales.

    If I was trying to break into becoming an actual novelist, then the only solution is to pay my dues and put the work into becoming the best writer I can possibly be. And believe me, that's a hard thing to do. I'll never stop doing it. I'm not going to succeed with the very first novel I write. In fact, it's probably a bad idea to start working on a novel right now. Of course, you say you are a beginner, so that's what I am assuming you are. But only you can judge your ability. As for me personally, I judge that I am never done learning.

    (Also, I am going to go the self-published route, and manage all the marketing and distributing myself, if people are asking. Please don't throw rocks at me. >_< *hides under bed*)
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the distinction is between a storyteller and a writer.

    A good storyteller doesn't even need to be able to write - the wonderful Bothy Ballads are rich and amazing, stories were carried orally for many generations in many cultures, adding many colloquialisms that would shock someone looking for correct grammar.

    It's not unreasonable to utilise other people with better skills than yourself. My punctuation will always be ropey because of my dialect, so I find someone who has better skills to read through my story.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Well, if you want to impress an editor or an agent, it's necessary to have good grammar and spelling, even if you see yourself as a storyteller. Constantly relying on other people to point these things out for you is not something a good writer should be doing IMO.
     
  11. JessaNova
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    JessaNova Senior Member

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    I think the punctuality is the last thing you want to worry about right now. Just get everything down on paper (Or computer) before you worry about that. I'd submit it for review or give it to some people to go through it. That'll help you through a lot of that. Sorry for your loss, even though it's a very generic response.

     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i can also help you learn how to correct your mistakes and write it yourself, if you don't want it completely rewritten by anyone else... you can send me your first chapter and i'll give you detailed notes on what needs fixing and why--and how to do it...

    hugs, maia
     
  13. kaylynwrong
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    kaylynwrong Member

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    Are you sure you aren't just being too hard on yourself? Unless I'm totally confused, your punctuation in your original post looks normal to me. Why do you think you would have lots of grammatical errors if you were to write your story? Anyway, before you even began the querying process, you'd likely have a friend (with good grammar!) or someone to edit your story.

    I'd suggest you stop worrying about something that hasn't happened yet. You haven't even written the story. Do that first, then worry about the editing process later.
     

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