I don’t think so.
Many would like to think there is. Oh, you know, secret handshake, follow all these specific (5! 10! 20! Et cetera!) steps, and, voila!, your manuscript (ms) will be published!
Now, I don’t want to do anyone a disservice out there who’s teaching these courses, but from what I’ve noticed over the years, it doesn’t always matter if a book is, you know—good. And, no, I’m not going to give examples. We’ve all seen them. What seems to matter—really matter—is if that book somehow (<fill in the blank>) grabs the money behind the ms. And following that, as Mitch Albom put it in an article in October 2009’s Writer’s Digest (and got me back into this blog topic), readers just want to read. It’s the publishers and writers who “…make more of fiction and nonfiction, memoir versus novel, than the average reader does.”
Manuscripts (mss) (I’m going to go out on a limb and say), don’t always have to be grammatically perfect. Fit each and every of the 5! 10! and 20! steps it takes to GET PUBLISHED. What it takes, is having something the Money Peeps feel they can make money off of, ergo, people buying it.
(Just wanting to read….)
Now, I’m sure I’ve probably pissed off some folks, but that’s not my intent—but it is my opinion.
This also does not mean writers should not do their damnedest to write and present their best mss, Or that agents and editors should not scarf up only the best mss. It does not—and it should not—be the case. But it should be something that those in “control” can earn some dough off of.
So, should a writer “have” to do anything in writing a ms? Do a certain pacing, have a certain something on every page?
They should give the story, the gestalt effort, their best shot. And if the writing stinks, then the story damn-well better grab ya…and vice versa.
Do. Their. Best.
There’s no harm and it should be a given that writers do their best, but sometimes their best isn’t good enough. Sometimes books fail. Writers fail. And that’s just the way it is. I don’t think it is solely based upon whether or not a book is perfect crafted or edited or any other “perfectly.” Sometimes the magic works…and sometimes it don’t.
Note: I will be attending the Mile Hi Con Saturday, October 24. I’ll be participating on a Using Dreams In Your Writing panel at 10 a.m., in the Mesa Verde B room, at Hyatt Regency – Tech Center, 7800 E. Tufts Avenue, Denver, CO. I also hope to be setting up a book signing for Sleepwalkers. Hope to see you there!