Saturday, 22 October 2016

How do you know when your book is any good? By Dan Metcalf

The question of 'How do you know when your book is any good?' cropped up on a discussion topic and I found myself feeling quite passionate about my answer. So here goes:

I think you know when your book is good when it excites you. When you can't wait to dive back in and go through it with a fine toothcomb and rewrite it. When you think about it all the time – in the shower, on the drive to work, during mealtimes and in a meeting when you really should be paying attention to what the other person is saying. When you find yourself sneaking a look at the manuscript during the time you're supposed to be letting it rest in a drawer. And when the characters play on in your mind long after you've put down the pen, chattering and arguing in their own unique voice.

If you hate writing the story, if you can't face another day in front of the keyboard, or if you plain old can’t stand your characters, then put it aside or try to reinvent the story so that it is fun for you to write. If you don't have fun writing it, then no one will have fun reading it. Be your own biggest fan, and write the story you want to read.

So don't rewrite something if you know it’s really good, unless you or your editor have a blinkin' good reason to find fault in it. And yes, if it doesn't excite you, cast it aside! You should be your own critic, but unfortunately I think most writers have a very loud internal critic already, poo-pooing their ideas before they hit paper. I'd just like to fly the flag for believing in your own work, and making sure that you love every last letter of it.

How do you feel about this? What safeguards have you got in place to ensure your writing doesn't suck? Let me know in the comments.

Dan Metcalf -

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