September 25, 2013

Good writing

Dear M,

I cannot stress enough the importance of good writing. I happened to read something today, the beauty of which was marred by flaws in the writing.

It was about a Mother's love for her child. The one topic that can never go out of fashion, the one love that sends us throbbing back to our childhood, the one relation that transcends everything else. It was beautiful stuff. But - it would have been astounding if it were written well.

I don't blame the writer. The fact that they could write something without being deterred by insignificant concerns like grammar is admirable. Their intention was only to communicate a feeling, and that they did well. I am of course, speaking from a writer's point of view. To be fair to the author of that piece, they did not intend to be called a writer or a story teller.

However, it led me to think about other writers who wish to be referred to as writers. I don't think I am a grammar nazi (or maybe I am, a wee bit) and my own writing must be spattered with mistakes that have escaped my eyes. And I also know that I am unkind when I criticise other authors' language skills.

Where did I read that it is essential to "be brutal to be kind"? That phrase is so apt for this situation! You cannot project yourself to be a writer if you cannot get your basics right. Grammar, spellings, without them there is no writing. You've got to get the rules right before you can break them. If you break them before you know them, you are going to look uneducated. Period.

There - that was brutal enough.

No publisher or agent is going to accept you if your writing is anything short of perfect. Forget the story - the story may be the next booker winner for all you know - but if they should pay any attention to it, the writing should be flawless. Even with impeccable writing, tonnes of writers are rejected every day.


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