Last week I discussed a writer's first impression: format. The writer's second impression is structure. I'm discussing this in context of authors trying to sell short fiction to paying markets.
Scenario 1: I'm too sexy
"That you are," the manger agreed. "However, insurance is expensive and we just can't afford a shirtless employee."
The minute you send your work out on submission, you're applying for a job. For McDonald's can't hiring a shirtless fry cook would get expensive fast. For a magazine, purchasing work from an author who can't edit gets expensive fast.
It's also a waste of time. How suitable is Sexy Gabe for the position of fry cook?
Writers who don't know enough about structure can't be counted on to follow the editors instructions and more than McDonald's can expect Shirtless Gabe to not burn himself. And Gabe is all caps CLUELESS. Do you want to be an caps CLUELESS writer?
Then open a grammar. Every excuse you give for not doing it, is one hundred well deserved rejections
Scenario 2: I got a vision
Meet Jill. Jill loves to heal people so she opened a clinic Marco. She didn't go to medical school.
"You can't perform surgery without a medical license." The Moroccan judge said at her deportation hearing.
"I have a vision," Jill shouted. "I'm going to save you people from death, disease and disrepair. I can learn all that other stuff later."
Every writer has a vision. But vision alone will never suffice. Just as a doctor must learn the anatomy of the human body, the writer must learn the anatomy of a sentence. And it doesn't always come down to surgery. A writer who knows their sentence anatomy can treat a sniffle before it becomes liver failure.
Scenario 3: Great ideas
"Uh, Kim?" The recruiter hesitated. "Er, um. I see you have a PhD. in nano technology."
"That's me," she mumbled over the big lips. "I didn't wear my shirt because I wanted to get your attention...."
Kim continued speaking for the next ten minutes, explaining some of her ideas. They were just what the company was looking for except the recruiter tossed her resume in the trash.
"I can't do this." He said. "You're tits are so distracting and I can't understand anything you're saying with those lips clenched in your teeth."
Just as Kim's chest distracted the recruiter, messy sentence structure will distract readers from your story. And that's best case scenario. Worst case scenario, readers will tar and feather you.
Ideas only matter when your audience is on the same page.
What kind of fiction do you write?
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).