Six of One...

If you had to choose between a manuscript that had a great story but was poorly written (needed a lot of editing) and a manuscript that was written beautifully but the story was mediocre, which would you choose?

Neither. Because I wouldn't be able to sell either one (as is) and it would be stupid for me to invest the time, energy and thousands of dollars into something that would not be profitable for me.

However, if it was a really good story, I might give them notes and ask them to work on it--but that isn't usually enough to bring it to publishable standards. (See yesterday's post about rewriting.)


Anonymous said...

I think this might apply, at least in a small way, to the Harry Potter books. They aren't written very well and break many rules (too many adverbs, telling instead of showing, etc.), but the story transcends the awkward writing. The story is strong enough that we forgive the rough writing.

Isn't story the most important aspect?

LDS Publisher said...

The Harry Potter books do have their problems; they are not perfect. However, I would not classify them as "poorly written."

The places where Rowling breaks the rules do not snag the reader up (usually). The story is very strong and carries you through. Rarely (if ever) do you have to stop and reread something to figure out what it is she's trying to say.

What I call "poorly written" is when there are so many rules broken and the writing is so unwieldy that it interferes with the story--you have to stop and say "huh?" way too many times. When that happens, it doesn't matter how strong the story idea is. It won't fly.