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I respectfully disagree. "Good enough" fuels just about every full-time author's career. There is no "special". That's something writers mention as a means to explaining any given author's success. It's a false notion at best, and gatekeeping at worst. Agents and publishers dine out on the idea of talent and special.

In the end it's about packaging, marketing, and being entertaining enough to hold interest and get someone to read the next one. It doesn't take special-ness to achieve that, and really that limiting belief is what keeps the non-fiction "How to Write" industry flush, and stops a lot of people from even trying.

What's real and what's apparent is that bad writing is rampant. What makes so many badly written books bestsellers, however, is slick packaging and that they're deemed 'not boring' enough to enough readers.
Just because something isn't special to you doesn't mean it isn't special to someone else. I would argue that special/not special often makes the difference between an author who has rabid fans who want to read their books specifically, and an author who writes books that are basically considered fungible with any other similar books that the reader can find in KU.

Also, something being special isn't a false notion. Not all things are created equal.
 

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Free write a chapter ahead of chapter one. roll into chapter one and keep going. Then lop off the free written section. The purpose is to do stretches and flex the muscles of the writing mind before the race starts.

Keep your outline because that keeps your focus.

You can also return to the first chapter when you've completed the book and rewrite the robotic prose, because no matter what you are likely to want to rewrite at least the first few paragraphs a dozen times anyway, to build the hook.

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Sounds like a good way to ensure you have written a throwaway book.
The KU best seller list is full of throwaway books. If all you care about is money it doesn't matter.

You don't need to be a great writer, or even a good writer, to be successful. As long as you hit the right tropes and market your book well so that the right readers know it exist and the writing is "good enough," you'll do just fine.

HOWEVER, you do need to at least understand the basics, and I'm not sure if the OP has gotten to that point yet.
 

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I respectfully disagree. "Good enough" fuels just about every full-time author's career. There is no "special". That's something writers mention as a means to explaining any given author's success. It's a false notion at best, and gatekeeping at worst. Agents and publishers dine out on the idea of talent and special.

In the end it's about packaging, marketing, and being entertaining enough to hold interest and get someone to read the next one. It doesn't take special-ness to achieve that, and really that limiting belief is what keeps the non-fiction "How to Write" industry flush, and stops a lot of people from even trying.

What's real and what's apparent is that bad writing is rampant. What makes so many badly written books bestsellers, however, is slick packaging and that they're deemed 'not boring' enough to enough readers.
stop writing from outlines

there's a lot off discussion of this in Steven James's books on how to write more organically, Story Trumps Structure and Troubleshoot Your Novel

you only get away from the robot when you have the courage to step away from the robot
I wouldn' t say that was the best of advice. The only time to stop outlining is when you have fully grasped structure so that it becomes a set of targets for your creativity.
 

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Just because something isn't special to you doesn't mean it isn't special to someone else. I would argue that special/not special often makes the difference between an author who has rabid fans who want to read their books specifically, and an author who writes books that are basically considered fungible with any other similar books that the reader can find in KU.

Also, something being special isn't a false notion. Not all things are created equal.
Thank you; “fungible” (interchangeable) was the word I wanted.
 

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Looks like you've got plenty of great advice already in this thread, but adding my two cents' worth ... I echo the importance of beginning a writing session with free writing, although for me I keep it entirely unrelated to whatever story I'm working on. I do my free writing by hand, because for me something about pen (or pencil) on paper helps to get the creativity flowing better than tapping on a keyboard, but I know it doesn't work that way for everyone, so figure out what works best for you. For me, free writing is: set the timer for ten minutes, put pen to paper, start writing whatever comes to mind and DON'T STOP until the timer beeps, then finish up whatever sentence I'm working on, cap the pen, put aside the notebook and pull out the laptop, and get to work on my story. As @jvin248 said, it is the equivalent of warming up before exercising, and it really does make a tremendous difference. Even if all you are writing is: "I don't know what to write, I think this exercise is dumb, this is a waste of time ..." for ten minutes, it honestly helps. (Seriously, I have many pages in my free writing notebook that begin that way, and a few that are nothing but that--and they still worked to get my creativity flowing.)

Also, are you part of a writers' group, or do you have a critique partner? Having someone else look at your work can give you a better perspective on what the specific problems are, and brainstorming with that person can be a good way of figuring out how to make the writing stronger.
 

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Keep going. You can fix things in revision or as inspiration comes. If you get a great idea, go back and stick it in. My first chapters get changed and revised all the time.
 

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What often stymies the flow of writing is the thought that what you instantly put on screen is the finished article and will be available to view by the public as soon as you hit 'Save'. It means we all second guess ourselves rather than putting the words on the screen.
 

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Sounds like a good way to ensure you have written a throwaway book.

Packaging and promotion can sell that book. They cannot sell your brand or keep your career going. People have to actually like what you do enough to buy the next book. In other words, you may be able to achieve liftoff for your jet, but it will crash again without a satisfying book to sustain it. “Good enough” does not build a career. There has to be something special about what you do—your competitive advantage.
There are a number of very successful authors who are mediocre writers and yet have a huge following. Because they have engaging stories and interesting characters, despite the flaws in their writing. And, of course, they have the packaging and marketing nailed.

Honestly, this is nothing new. You see it everywhere. How many times have you seen a movie with a poor plot that was a huge box office hit? or heard a song with terrible lyrics but that ended up a huge hit nonetheless? It's exactly the same phenomenon.
 

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There are a number of very successful authors who are mediocre writers and yet have a huge following. Because they have engaging stories and interesting characters, despite the flaws in their writing. And, of course, they have the packaging and marketing nailed.

Honestly, this is nothing new. You see it everywhere. How many times have you seen a movie with a poor plot that was a huge box office hit? or heard a song with terrible lyrics but that ended up a huge hit nonetheless? It's exactly the same phenomenon.
If they have engaging enough stories and interesting enough characters to have a huge following, they are not mediocre writers. Writing fiction is all about STORY. It is not about pretty prose. It is about page-turning, engaging stories, and characters readers can believe in. Story and characterization are the essence of genre fiction. If you have mastered them, then, yes, you are a good writer.
 

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There are a number of very successful authors who are mediocre writers and yet have a huge following. Because they have engaging stories and interesting characters, despite the flaws in their writing. And, of course, they have the packaging and marketing nailed.
But is it really that they're mediocre writers, or is it that you just don't like the stories they write? People crapped all over Twilight, but it spoke to the readers it was aimed at, which is really the whole point of telling stories - to speak to your target audience, and make them feel something.
 

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Is there any solution for this? I haven't written a story in a while and even though I studied this genre I am new to writing it. I have read lots of books in this genre while studying for genre tropes, conventions and plot points, but when it comes to prose I never considered that I would have any issues. Surprisingly I have no issues with my outline, I usually deviate from it anyways, but whenever I am showing it still looks robotic to me.

I have followed outlines before while writing so I am not sure what to do.
Really, we're all going by your own judgement that it's robotic. Why don't you put it up on wattpad. give us a link and we can comment on there, and maybe offer suggestions. I'd take a look for you. I'm sure other would out of interest. You can always delete it later.

Other than that, I'm not sure what anyone can add that hasn't already been said, other than to fly off at a tangent as to what personal opinions are as to good or bad writing.
 

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But is it really that they're mediocre writers, or is it that you just don't like the stories they write? People crapped all over Twilight, but it spoke to the readers it was aimed at, which is really the whole point of telling stories - to speak to your target audience, and make them feel something.
Which is exactly my point. Stephanie Meyer didn't become a huge bestseller because of any arbitrary special-ness. She became a bestseller because her books had huge visibility, and enough readers thought they were "good enough" to the tune of a lot of sales.

Given that vampire books of all types have existed for a long time, you could've replaced Meyer with countless other authors in the world who had their own spin on vampires at the time Twilight broke, and you could've put that same level of visibility and trad push behind their works, and we'd be talking about their books today instead of hers.

It's all a game of visibility and attention.

And, once you've crossed the visibility/packaging threshold, which is the hardest, most important part, all you need is to be "good enough" to enough readers. "Special" and "talent" is irrelevant. Anyone deeming you and your work special or talented is nice, but it's merely the cherry on top of the sundae, not the sundae itself.

Authors tend to treat writing and storytelling like it's a high bar in need of clearing in order to be a bestseller, and given it's their chosen craft, I get why - but it just isn't true.

Mediocre writing is the norm. The high bar to clear is visibility, cover, and blurb.
 

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Which is exactly my point. Stephanie Meyer didn't become a huge bestseller because of any arbitrary special-ness. She became a bestseller because her books had huge visibility, and enough readers thought they were "good enough" to the tune of a lot of sales.

Given that vampire books of all types have existed for a long time, you could've replaced Meyer with countless other authors in the world who had their own spin on vampires at the time Twilight broke, and you could've put that same level of visibility and trad push behind their works, and we'd be talking about their books today instead of hers.

It's all a game of visibility and attention.

And, once you've crossed the visibility/packaging threshold, which is the hardest, most important part, all you need is to be "good enough" to enough readers. "Special" and "talent" is irrelevant. Anyone deeming you and your work special or talented is nice, but it's merely the cherry on top of the sundae, not the sundae itself.

Authors tend to treat writing and storytelling like it's a high bar in need of clearing in order to be a bestseller, and given it's their chosen craft, I get why - but it just isn't true.

Mediocre writing is the norm. The high bar to clear is visibility, cover, and blurb.
I disagree. There are plenty of books/series that have huge visibility,and plenty of readers who thought they were 'good enough', but they don't become the huge phenomenon that Twilight became. I can't count the times I've seen 'the next Twilight' or 'the next Harry Potter', but Twilight has been around for 15 years, and Harry Potter for 23 years, and there's never been anything that approaches either of them in popularity. So no, I don't think you could have put just any author in Meyer's place (or JK Rowling's) and got the same result. There was something about those books that made them take off the way they did, and it wasn't just marketing.

In order to be a bestseller, no, it's not a particularly high bar. These days, all we need is to be in a box set with 20 other people for $0.99 and chuck a lot of money at ads. You're on the list for one week and you get your letters, bang. But to be a true runaway bestseller like Twilight or Harry Potter, on the bestseller lists for weeks on end, that takes a lot more than just buying visibility.
 

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But is it really that they're mediocre writers, or is it that you just don't like the stories they write?
I'm not talking about not liking a story, I'm talking about the quality of the writing itself.

If you look back at the stuff you wrote when you were a kid, would you say they were well written?

It's not that subjective a notion. There are such things as grammar and syntax rules. A writer can (and, I'd argue, must) get better with these, of course, but not everyone masters them. An editor can also help, but not everyone can afford one, or is willing to bother with it.

It's quite likely that through experience these writers will get better (and possibly already have, I don't really read them) but they can have success despite those writing flaws if they get everything else right (good characters, engaging plots, catchy blurbs, enticing covers & great marketing).

It happens all the time.
 

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I disagree. There are plenty of books/series that have huge visibility,and plenty of readers who thought they were 'good enough', but they don't become the huge phenomenon that Twilight became. I can't count the times I've seen 'the next Twilight' or 'the next Harry Potter', but Twilight has been around for 15 years, and Harry Potter for 23 years, and there's never been anything that approaches either of them in popularity. So no, I don't think you could have put just any author in Meyer's place (or JK Rowling's) and got the same result. There was something about those books that made them take off the way they did, and it wasn't just marketing.

In order to be a bestseller, no, it's not a particularly high bar. These days, all we need is to be in a box set with 20 other people for $0.99 and chuck a lot of money at ads. You're on the list for one week and you get your letters, bang. But to be a true runaway bestseller like Twilight or Harry Potter, on the bestseller lists for weeks on end, that takes a lot more than just buying visibility.
Meyers and Rowling were picked by random chance off the slush pile, and pushed to a degree you don't see anymore, and established in a completely different economic and social climate which was far less risk averse. Couple that with the passage of time, and of course they've attained a level of popularity no one else can approach. But, that misses the point, and comparing them to indies vying for the bestsellers charts today is like comparing apples to chainsaws.

Why was 'x' laundry detergent formula built into the Tide brand versus another formula which could have been proven to be far more effective? Why do we all know of Tide, but have never heard of the other? Because one of them got the push, and the other one didn't. Multiply that with the passage of time and you have a brand firmly entrenched.

Meyer and Rowling were both pushed to an insane degree. The visibility for their books was off the charts. Book chains were still big. Indie competition was not yet a thing, i.e. trads reigned supreme. They got their movie adaptations made pretty quickly. Hype and publicity was paid for in full. It was a machine running at high rev.

Point being, Twilight and Harry Potter and any other bestseller you can name are not bestsellers based on merit, special-ness, or talent from a writing or storytelling perspective.

It's not like the Twilight and Harry Potter stories themselves are any great shakes. They're serviceable in that they're accessible and easy reads, and vampires and magic have always been popular. But, they're not particularly original from a storytelling standpoint, and nor do they have to be since readers in general have never been that picky. Sure, you could say nothing has come close in popularity, but I would argue nothing has come close in terms of visibility either, and all of the factors at play at that time which also contributed to said visibility. The popularity and the visibility, however it was attained - they go hand-in-hand. Visibility begets visibility.

We use hindsight to attribute things to those kind of success stories, but I think it sometimes leads to false conclusions.

Guaranteed at the time Meyer and Rowling broke big there were similar books by other authors that featured better storylines, more interesting characters, the whole nine, and the reason we don't know their names is because they weren't picked, and they weren't pushed. Why? A million reasons. The most likely being that they never became visible to the right people at the right time. Fickle-ness outdoes merit all the time. In other words, random chance.

Writers and authors have this tendency to see writing, authorship, publishing, and bestseller-dom as a meritocracy.

There is no meritocracy. There is only what's seen and what is unseen.
 

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I know it's a good thread when I feel torn reading through it.

I think there was something special about both Harry Potter and Twilight. And I don't know this to be a fact, but I'd guess both series got the normal push at the start, and when the push paid off, it scaled up. I'd define specialness as crafting a world people want to live in, populated by people you'd want to know, even if the stories aren't as good as the world and characters themselves. I've thought about this a bit with Twilight because the story lines weren't executed well, but on some level it got me. It has a certain charm, excluding the anticlimactic slog of a final book. But then again I gravitate toward found family stories.

I guess it's less about something being objectively special, but rather something being special to enough people that it appears to be objectively special, and that perception takes on a life of it's own. I can see that I first read Harry Potter because of the hype, but I don't reread that series once a year because of hype, or because Rowling is well known.

And I've also seen the reverse-Twilight situation, a book with a really interesting idea, a well executed plot, but not a single character I'd want to know in sight.

Trad is a machine, I'm not saying it isn't, and I'm sure there are hidden gems that never got off the ground (both Trad and especially Indie), but I don't think we can attribute the entirety of the success of popular authors to being the chosen ones or marketing might. I've seen too many books/series pushed so hard by the machine only to flop harder to think the push has all the power. I know there's a system in place and it's not fair, but neither is a meritocracy if you think about it. It's just another system where people with power reward others based on their opinions. The only fair meritocracy would still require us all to get together and come come to an impossible consensus.

In the end, though, I don't know if writers can know if they are achieving this illusive specialness. I assume we all think we are, and we don't know until it gets in front of people.
 

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but I don't think we can attribute the entirety of the success of popular authors to being the chosen ones or marketing might.
Not the entirely, no, of course not. The point some of us are trying to make (myself certainly) is that it's possible to be successful, even if you're not a great writer.

There are, of course, those who fully deserve their success... though I suppose we might argue on the specific names, as we don't all have the same tastes :D (and thank goodness for that haha)
 

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Given that vampire books of all types have existed for a long time, you could've replaced Meyer with countless other authors in the world who had their own spin on vampires at the time Twilight broke, and you could've put that same level of visibility and trad push behind their works, and we'd be talking about their books today instead of hers.
Ok, now this is complete and total BS. I was with you up until this point.
 
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