EL James’s latest, The Mister, landed and not surprisingly, is doing exceptionally well.
What’s this got to do with craft? Plenty.
To most writers, EL James’s work is everything you’re taught not to do. And yet, it still sells. The theory is that it’s a ‘great story.’ What does ‘good’ writing matter when it’s a ‘great story’?
First up, last time I checked, there is only one EL James. One writer making a shit ton of cash on horrible writing and a great story. Every other writer? They’re getting by (or not) on good writing AND a great story. BOTH.
The greatest story in the world manhandled by an amateur will turn out lukewarm at best. Will you get a publishing contract out of it? Probably, not. EL James is a combination of factors: a massive online following of her Twilight fanfic, the emergence of erotica as ‘en vogue’, and the trend for BDSM. Do you see ‘great story’ or ‘good writing’ in that combination? I don’t.
Where does that leave the thousands of writers out there who want to break into the writing market? Back with their tools, their craft. Writing up great stories, with fabulous writing that makes it difficult for publishers, agents, and readers to say ’no’.
There will always be the next EL James, one outlier soaring stratospherically at the right time, in the right space, when Jupiter aligned with Mars or the the prophesised one returned with her three dragons and Knight Friendzone. Would we love to be this person? Of course, we would.
But, in case it doesn’t, you can still have a career as a writer, by improving your craft to better tell great stories.
HEA ROMANCE WRITING
Everything you need to know to write your own happily ever after.