Whereas there may be elevator pitches in the world of business, there’s no sky car to the penthouse in the world of writing. For success, instead, authors need to take the steps. Literary achievement comes from a series of measured paces, not from a leap or a cycle of them.
More specifically, in creating work, in selling work to publishers and then in promoting it to readers, wordies are best advised to envisage their path as consisting of a sequence of repeated, limited movements. The alternative image of jumping around, more often than not, results in unserviceable outcomes and injuries. Writers ought to endeavor to proceed by degrees.
As per the writing process, it can be understood as entailing: idea generation, idea organization, idea elaboration, idea refinement, and idea amending. Regardless of whether one is constructing a scholarly essay or fashioning a novel, the first stage to manufacturing a document is to figure out that document’s topic and that topic’s particulars. See: “Choosing a Topic and Other Writing Realities” and “Turtledoves and Topics.”
Subjects, furthermore, are governed by the rhetorical situation of the copy, which, itself, is composed of: audiences, vehicles, i.e. places of publication, writers’ objectives, actual scripts, and settings, i.e. the time and place in which the vehicle occurs.1 Note: the rhetorical situation of a piece meant for publication is not comparable to the rhetorical situation within a piece meant for publication. The former is made up of the here and now. However, the latter is dictated by the aforementioned details of the rhetorical situation.
Continuing, there are two audiences for any piece of writing; the primary audience and the secondary audience. The primary audience encompasses peer reviewers for academic journals, editors for poetry journals, and agents for books full of essays. Readers constitute only the secondary audience; if a manuscript can’t get past publishing’s custodians, no reader will ever be able to gain access to it. At the same time as it’s arguable that some social media platforms lack formal censors, it’s the case that all of them are governed, in the least, by rules and regulations. Hence, any creators who pay no attention to a display place’s guidelines generally find themselves without a channel. Simply, to gain access to the royal family, per se, writers have to get past the palace guards.
Besides worrying about the sentinels, writers have to take into account the citadels, themselves. More precisely, in the same way that strongholds vary in their kinds of fortification - some having more bastions, redans, and turrets than others, publications differ from each other by: their reach, i.e. their audience demographics and psychographics, their medium, meaning their use of electronic, audio, print, or some combination of conduits, their production excellence, their frequency of distribution, their purchase cost, and so on. What’s more, many publications morph over time. Yesterday’s newsprint is today’s glossy. Last year’s paper edition is today’s exclusively online issue, and so it goes.
When bearing in mind writers’ objectives, those intentions can usually be rubricked as one or more of the following; to inform, to persuade, or to entertain. In spite of this truth, over and over again, attractive work tends to feature unexpected goals. For instance, entertaining lectures surpass ones that solely instruct. Short stories with political twists raise dissonance better than ones that no more than ring bells and sound whistles. State of the Union addresses that give over data instead of exclusively sharing officials’ agendas are rare, but incredibly welcomed.
In terms of defining “texts,” themselves, any assemblage of expressions that are moved from one or more thinking being to other thinking beings counts. “Texts,” as aforesaid, can take various forms, both within and among works. They can be traditional or unconventional in configuration and content. They can be of varying lengths and of varying qualities. Concomitantly, the meaning that a given text provides might be interdependent on the meaning provided by other texts (yet, “intertextuality,” is a sufficiently complicated focus as to have to be expounded upon in a later post.)
Meanwhile, anet time and place, it’s worthwhile to consider that areas for discussion, which were taboo in the 1960s, such as “cancer” and such as “divorce,” are currently commonplace themes. Also, mull over the fact that there are more women writers and more women protagonists, at the moment, than there were during any other literary period. Dwell on the reality, too, that writers who share purely because they are unconstrained extroverts are not just conventional, at this point in time, but, every so often, also rich.
While the first part of crafting a manuscript might be coming up with observations, the second step is shepherding them. Akin to problems with sheep straggling on hillsides, observations left unsupervised in the wilderness don’t customarily survive.
Rough outlines are to congregations of words what corrals are to bovids; they help writers determine which among their flocks of thoughts need to be culled and which among them need to be spurred to reproduce. Outlines don’t help remove trite analogies, though, since perfecting a piece is a later step of the writing process.
After information is generated and after that material’s “breeding stock” is separated from its “unwanted critters,” writers can make use of their remaining, marketable droves. By referring to the canons of their intended publications and to their own aims for fabricating their writing, writers can then progress to the stage of substantiating what they’ve written.
In other words, they can research to elucidate their nonfiction; they can integrate examples and explanations to complete their efforts. For their labors in fiction, writers can provide clarification by improving their use of: character development, plot development, and descriptive language. Most often, for fiction, it’s advantageous for them improve their use of dialogue, too.
Having multiplied their word herds, next, it’s mandatory that writers commence “shearing.” More accurately, following the roughing out of their work, writers need to begin editing. Trimming, plus other forms of “cleaning up,” is critical to the writing process. See: “Qualia.”
Primarily, writers ought to first correct their writing for structure and for amplification, then for word choice, and, finally, for mechanics. Any individual undertaking can require dozens of full or partial rewrites. See: “The Significance of Revising.”
After a number of such spins, it’s reasonable for writers to invite their beta readers to look at their manuscripts. Feedback’s beneficial to writers. All people have blind spots. Outsourcing works-in-progress make heuristic sense for nearly all enterprises.
Subsequently, seasoned writers continue with redos. Emerging writers, likewise, ought to embrace the redrafting habit. Nonetheless, sooner or later, writers run out of designs for refining their products or, given their other publishing deadlines, the verities of their lives, or what-have-you, they run out of time for more rehashing. At that juncture, they start pitching their work.
The offering of work to gatekeepers, similar to causing manuscripts to come into being, and similar to marketing published work, takes many steps. As such, the pitching of writing will be reviewed in this blog’s next post.
At present, it’s sufficient to be aware that even though vertical transportation doesn’t exist in the publishing world, there exist a series of discreet activities that can convey writers from their starting points to publishable products. Anyone interested in writing a little or writing a lot should be prepared to take the steps.
1. Lloyd Bitzer, “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 1.1 (January 1968).