Does Good Writing Even Matter Anymore?

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

Platform! Platform! Platform! It’s all we ever hear these days. You can’t get published if your platform isn’t strong enough. Do you have good endorsements? Have you put together a marketing plan? These items can be so overwhelming to creatives who just want to write a good story. It can leave us wondering, does good writing even matter anymore? Is it really all about platform, or does a good writer have a chance?

I’d like to encourage you by answering these questions with a big YES! Good writing is still extremely important in the publishing world and editors/agents are open to taking on projects that sweep them away with the wonder of the writing. The majority of the projects they take on will be because of good writing and strong platform, but if they are blown away by the amazing writing they won’t be able to say no even if your platform is small. The very first book I sold was one of these. Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Heartless is a beautiful story and, at the time, Anne Elisabeth didn’t have much of a writing platform. Her writing shone and that was the deciding factor in my representing her book and in Bethany House publishing it. It is a Christy Award-winning book now, and the start of a wonderful series. She has gone on to win three additional Christy Awards.

And even if a book is contracted by a publishing house because of a strong platform, the writing still needs to be good! If a published book isn’t written well, that author’s writing career is going to be shortened. Readers are smart people and they aren’t going to put up with bad writing for long–no matter who you are. I have stopped reading authors I used to love because their more recent books were sloppy. Have you ever had this experience? I still love their older books, but I can’t bring myself to purchase their newer ones. And once a reader is lost it’s very difficult to get them back again.

So, yes, good writing is very important and can be what leads to a publishing contract–even without a platform.

What do you do to make sure your writing shines? Do you have a critique group or an editor? Do you read your books out loud to yourself as you edit? What tips/tricks do you use to make sure your book is the best it can be?

13 Responses

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  1. I completely agree, Rachel! A writer should first and foremost write well! For me that means always studying the craft of writing – reading books on writing, going to conferences and seminars, and exploring award-winning books by great writers from various genres. I also find that a background in journalism can be helpful because it trains you to weigh your words and tighten your sentences. I learned more about writing from high school journalism than I ever did from college creative writing.

    • Emily, I write magazine articles. I find I struggle at the end of each chapter with wanting to wrap up each chapter with a pretty bow like I do my articles, instead of ending with a little suspense to make the reader want to turn the page. I’m really having to be intentional in that area.

  2. Your writing deserves the best effort you can give; it’s your legacy.

    • So true Andrew. When we put words out there for one or many, in speaking or writing, they are out there doing their work and we will reap the results, and will eat what we have sown into the lives of others. Such a powerful truth shown over and over in the Bible.Plus, slop is for pigs, we write for people and ultimately God. So I ask myself, as I ask others: slop or substance?

      Thank you Rachel! You have encouraged me yet again. I don’t have a large platform, because even though I have been studying the craft of writing, I was also finding myself in this world of writing. Others told me I could do it, strongly encouraged me and support me, but platform is a commitment, and I wanted to make sure I was not frantically trying to establish something that would have to be dismantled when the truth about my voice and story(stories) began to be pitched. I had to believe deep down in my heart what I was writing mattered, and that it was done well. To understand platform, I had to know my heart was burning with a passion for what I was presenting to the reader and why I was presenting it. I have found that in the letters of Great Aunt Lizzie.

  3. Rachel, my aunt has a favorite author. She’s read her works for years. But she says the latest books just seemed like she’d been forced to write them. And I had a non-fiction book by a particular author I just loved. Best-seller. They wrote a sequel type book after that one … and it just wasn’t as good. You couldn’t help but have that feeling that they should have left well enough alone. *I’m trying to make my writing shine. I am in a crit group, and I’m so thankful for their insight. I think the major lesson I’ve learned is how important it is to present your plot to your crit group (if you’re a plotter) and gather suggestions before starting to write … just to ensure you’re heading down the right path. It seems like it could save so much re-writing.

  4. Good writing is cake, platform is frosting. All frosting and no cake is a shapeless blob.

    Note to self: the cake better be rich chocolate.

  5. Loved reading this blog!! Thank you. My sentences can clunk along during the process, but if anyone really knew how many times I go over it, tweak to make it shine, I think I’d put them to sleep!! Thank You Lord for my editor. She is priceless. 🙂

  6. Loved reading this blog!! Thank you. My sentences can clunk along during the process, but if anyone really knew how many times I go over it, tweak to make it shines, I think I’d put them to sleep!! Thank You Lord for my editor. She is priceless. 🙂

  7. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Thank you, Rachel! ‘Tis encouraging to read this. I join you in having let go of certain preferred authors as their later work lost some zest and quality. Sad that in this business with so many trying to get books published, that the companies (or reading public?) pressure a few authors to churn out books faster than they’d like. This brings to mind the image of cattle we saw on a recent trip. One herd in a large pasture was contentedly munching or meandering. Another herd crammed into a smaller area stood in mud, not a blade of grass in site, only muddy hay bales tossed here and there. The stench as we drove by was horrible, even with the windows closed.

    To make my writing better, I edit a few times, focusing on different elements, with a week or two in between so I come at it fresh. I work with a critique group and sometimes an editor, and also continue to study the craft through reading, workshops, etc. Sometimes the road feels all uphill, Your blog here encourages me in that you are a voice farther down the road that says these efforts are not in vain.

  8. Mary Kay Moody says:

    PS Rachel, thanks too for mentioning Anne Elisabeth. I believe I’ve found a new author to add to my TBR stack!

  9. Kari says:

    It will always matter. I came across an ebook cookbook about a year ago with 50 errors in the first three pages. I was not impresses

  10. As I’ve taken time this week to put together a skeleton plan for a platform, I sat back and sighed, “Can I just be a great writer?” Thanks for the big yes that still comes with the platform. Happy to be in a great critique group. Thankful for great authors who share their success with new writers. My writing has to be me. I’ve tried fitting it to a need. The creativity is squelched. Being true to myself shines through every time. Yes, I do read my work out loud.

  11. I have a regular critique group, plus I have my computer read my manuscript to me while I work on edits.