Here is the thing: Few know exactly what makes good writing.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of little techniques you can use to bring clarity – and what have you.
But, like Ericson, I think that the approval of editors and other so-called gatekeepers is highly overrated too.
Want a story to point out how subjective it all is?
Sure. Here goes.
I once submitted an article I wrote to a large online publication.
(They are currently one of the top 15,000 websites in the world.)
Their director of content rejected my piece with a formal:
This piece is not a good fit for us. Thank you.
So do you know what I did? I submitted it elsewhere. Unfortunately, nobody else wanted it either.
So, six months later, I sent the (unchanged) article back to the original editor that had turned me down.
Fantastic piece! Will run it in the next week. Thanks!
I mean, at this point it’s almost cliche about how many times publishers turned down J.K. Rowling’s idea for Harry Potter (12 publishers passed).
Understand: Art is subjective.
The people who pay the printing bill define “good writing,” and they don’t even have to be right. All they need is enough money to pay the bills. It suddenly struck me that I didn’t need the approval of editors, critics, or book reviewers. I needed readers, and I thought I could go out and find them.
-John Erickson, Story Craft (Amazon)