I started an editing company when I was working on my MA in Literature. Then I started another one when I began my PhD. I’m pretty awesome at editing books, but up until recently I hadn’t written my own fiction.

Now that I’m almost done with my first book, I’ve learned a few things about the writing process. But the biggest thing I learned, is that most authors are telling stories that don’t matter. Most authors approach writing like a sandbox.

They see a nice castle and they try to reconstruct if from memory, or by looking at it, with their hands. They poke fingers for windows. They dribble sand for towers. They end up with something that looks enough like a castle for most people to figure out what it was supposed to be. It’s hard work and it keeps falling down.

And then, they try to sell it. Sometimes it works. More often, readers aren’t willing to suffer through the experience. Readers want authors to be in control and know what they’re doing. That means, 99% of the time, authors should be using story architecture to make stories that satisfy reader expectations. Amateur authors don’t do that.

It’s not their fault. A lot of writing groups tell them not to pay attention to the readers, and just write from the heart. So they do. That may be fine for process, but it’s a terrible way to write books. And so much harder than it needs to be.

“Some writing groups favor a kumbaya approach to writing, in which any story is worthy and any writer can make it if he really, really tries. This absolutely cannot be true. Not every story idea is worth pursuing, even in the skilled hands of the world’s finest authors, and not every story written by a well-intentioned, even skilled, writer should be published.”

If you want to be a writer – write from the heart. If you want to be a professional author (which means, you get paid to write books for a living), then you need to write books that will entertain and satisfy, which means you must learn how to construct a story.

My two favorite books are Story Fix and Story Grid. Read them. Follow the instructions. It will blow your mind and make your writing 1000% better. Because the writing doesn’t really matter that much. Success depends on the story.

I made a free video course on self-editing to help you get started revising your own work. If you need more help than that, and just want a proofreader, editor or manuscript review, check out Book Butchers Editing.