Have you ever dropped a needle into a haystack? It is a challenge to find that needle when buried in the hay. The discovery is possible but will take considerable effort and possibly time to find it. Or maybe you’ve accidentally dropped a supplement like a clear vitamin D on your kitchen floor and struggling to find it? As with the needle, it will take time and effort to find that missing pill.
What is the most difficult element to find with our writing? I’m not asking a trick question because the answer is: something which is missing.
Within the publishing community, I have often heard it said the hardest thing to find in anyone’s manuscript or proposal is something that is not there. It is easy and obvious to work on the elements which are there but how to you find the material which is not there?
Here’s some ideas how to find whatever you are missing:
1. Use a checklist. For example, if it is a book proposal, I’ve created a free book proposal checklist with the elements in a standard proposal. You can use this list to make sure you are not missing something.
2. Read often and widely. If you read extensively, you will have a better idea what should be included in your writing.
3. Read your writing aloud to yourself. The ear is less forgiving than the eye and it will be easier to pick up on what is missing or not there.
4. Have your critique group read it and react to it. Getting feedback from other writers can be helpful to find items which you are missing.
5. Hire an outside editor or proofreader. I encourage you to get recommendations from others. Don’t hire someone blindly because they may or may not have the experience that you need.
Whether you are writing a book proposal, a manuscript, a query letter or a magazine article, every writer needs feedback before you send it off to an agent or editor. Which element do you find the hardest to find with your writing? Let me know in the comments below.
Labels: book proposal, critique group, editor, needle, proofreading, publishing, Terry Whalin, The Hardest Element to Find, The Writing Life