Are you a good writer, or a bad one? I’m pretty sure that every single author and would-be author has asked themselves this question. If only the answer was as simple as that. But you’re still going to want to know the answer, and you’ll find yourself searching for validation everywhere. So when you want to test your own storytelling skills, who should you trust to tell you the truth?
To Tell the Truth
Should you keep on climbing that mountain, or throw in the towel? Are you good with dialogue, bad with your narrative, terrible at descriptions or sloppy in your research? You’re going to want to know all of these things at some point, and maybe you’ll want to know them more than once. So who can you turn to for the answer that’s honest? In the literary world, there are many opinions you may want to trust. Should you?
- Beta readers: It’s not hard to find beta readers, if you know where to look. Writer forums provide lots of opportunities to find someone who will take a peek at your book before you publish, so you can iron out any major problems. These people have only your best interests at heart, right?
- Reviewers: After you publish your book and expose it to the world at large, anyone can take the opportunity to review your book. Unsolicited reviews should be among the most honest, shouldn’t they?
- Agents: Literary agents are beginning to represent indie authors, and you may find yourself sending out letters in an attempt to lure one your way. Their feedback is designed to help you sell more books, so can’t you bank on what they have to say?
Who can you trust? Who will tell you the absolute truth?
There actually is a simple answer to this: stop asking questions. You can’t trust anyone, and I mean no one, to tell you the absolute truth.
There is no absolute truth. Everyone has their own version of truth, their own version of what works for them. For example, I’m not the biggest fan of Jane Austen. Half the world is crazy about her, but I really get tired of her heroines. I cannot abide to read “Wuthering Heights” ever again, and let’s not even get started on Stephen King. Yet, reviewers and sales figures would argue that I’m totally out of my mind.
Don’t trust anyone to tell you whether or not you’re a good writer. Maybe no one is a good writer. Every writer is always learning how to be a writer. They’re always figuring out how to write this particular book, this sentence, this word right here and now. Books aren’t good or bad, they’re just books. And the truth is, everybody has their own opinions and feelings about each and every one. So trust yourself when it comes to your writing, and write what you know you want to write.