Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #3: Congratulations! You stink!

Do you know how bad you stink?

If not, read “How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey.  Jon Gibbs is at least the tenth person who has mentioned this book.  I need to get off my butt and get a copy.

Here’s what Jon had to say, taking into account what he learned from this book:

Realize that you stink.  It’s okay to stink, but once you realize just how awful you are, you need to find out what you need to learn to get better, or just up and quit.

Some people just like to write for personal reasons and don’t want to get published – like those “too much description” people.  Yes, you are writing beautiful prose, but it is probably not marketable prose within the boundaries of today’s buying trends – you need to pull the reader in right away with action.

So, if you are one of those “epic setting” people, that’s fine.  If that is what you want to do, go for it.  Just don’t expect a huge financial reward at the end of your rainbow.

Realistically, there is no pot of gold at the end of most writing rainbows, so if you are not committed to this because you love to write, chances are you will be sorely disappointed.

However, there are a handful of authors every year who shock everyone and take a roller-coaster ride to the top.

Who knows?  It might be you.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and

Jon blogs at



13 responses to “Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #3: Congratulations! You stink!

  1. Writer’s groups, beta readers and critique partners are great at letting you know WHERE you stink so you can improve. Great post, Jennifer. 🙂

  2. The book is in my Amazon shopping cart!

  3. I read that book several years ago (“How to Write a Damn Good Novel”). I should probably take another look.

  4. I’m so pleased I found you. Love all your posts and I’ve learned so much since arriving here. Thank you for sharing as much as you do.

  5. You know what they say: if you stink, take a shower. If your writing stinks… er, I don’t recommend putting it underwater. Unless you want to get rid of it and start again. I have no point 🙂

  6. Thanks for this – enjoy your blog – you are entertaining and interesting

  7. This is exactly what happened to me. I’ve always written for myself. My pieces were full of descriptions and heavy with symbolism that ony I understood. Once I started taking writing seriously, I started writing in action, dialogue, and made sure that my messages were clear and understood.

  8. I’ll have to check that book out too. Reading Save the Cat right now and it’s providing some wonderful insights even though it was created for screenwriting.

  9. I hate rambling descriptions and will stop reading any book that contains them immediately! great post.

  10. It’s like they say, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. You can’t improve your writing until you admit that it needs to get better. It’s hard, but you need to be able to do that if you want to be a professional writer of any stripe, as revision is the fruit of that realization. Most people’s jaws drop when I tell them I threw out an entire 107k word draft of a novel the day after I finished it, but it was only because I realized how deep the problems with it went and that simple editing was only going to be duct tape over the cracks to hold the pieces together. I had to figure out the problems and totally rewrite it to make it even good. Great, well, I’m probably not the best judge of that. Too hard on myself according to others, but I say it’s honesty and the knowledge that there’s always room to improve.