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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Good News: You don't have to be Perfect, just Exceptional

Right now I'm reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and it's a real pager-turner. The only reason I'm not reading it right now is because I'm reading it with someone, so we have to get our schedules to match up. (I'm definitely writing a review when we're done). 

Dashner has created a thrilling plot that takes advantage of hooks. I love this book's set-up. He captures some great images. But like all books, the writing has some shortcomings. I think I've read the phrase "Thomas was surprised that," and "Thomas felt" once every three pages, and those phrases become trite, drawing too much attention to themselves. It's a minor problem.

Does that mean Dashner is a "bad writer?" No!! His plot, hooks, setting, and dialogue are brilliant. 

He's not perfect. He's exceptional.

If you're a writer, you don't have to be perfect either. You just have to be good enough. Don't let perfection stop you from moving forward or doing what you love. If you want to be published, you only have to be great. If you want to pen a bestseller, you just need to be exceptional.

Even fantastic and bestselling authors have flaws. Ally Condie isn't great with character voice. I don't think Stephenie Meyer can write action scenes. Christopher Paolini wanders in his own world too much, making his pacing wobbly at times, and some of his plot is too cliche. J.K. Rowling isn't that great at writing romance. J. R. R. Tolkien's characters aren't very dimensional. Orson Scott Card mostly "tells" his stories.

Don't wait to be perfect to be a writer. If you are good enough, you'll touch a reader. Don't wait to be perfect to be happy writing.

Like many writers, I really want my novel to succeed, hope it does, big time. But I had to acknowledge that realistically, that might not happen. There are too many factors out of my control.

But then I realized: even if my novel never made it onto a bookshelf, I'd be happier writing than not writing.

This post may not be for you. At least not now. But I think every serious writer, at some point, feels the pressure to be perfect. Please, keep improving. Keep honing your skills. But don't wait on perfection.

Ally Condie has a beautiful, poetic writing style that's so easy to swallow that, at times, it has made me envious. Stephenie Meyer can write about emotion like no other. Christopher Paolini not only has a rich writing style that's vivid and clear, but can render amazing action sequences and chilling horror scenes. J.K. Rowling is a master at sewing her plot together with even the most minuscule, selective details and pulling her readers so deep into her stories that they mourn and laugh vicariously with her characters. J. R. R. Tolkien is quite possibly unmatched in his intricate worldbuilding. Orson Scott Card can capture realistic dialogue.

Imagine how many lives they wouldn't have impacted if they had waited on perfection. They wouldn't have even impacted their own lives. At least not in the same way.

So go write! And if you are writing, keep going! Even if it's only for yourself to begin with.

And please, check out this great, short post about finding your own writing talent from David Farland.

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Charlie Puslipher is the author of Zombies at the Door and Crystal Bridge. He is a were-hamster and lemur enthusiast who lives in Saint George, Utah with his lovely wife and neurotic dog. He writes sci-fi and fantasy when he's not obsessing over the coming zombie-pocalypse. His velociraptor impression is worth seeing. It's probably the coolest thing about him. You can follow Charlie on Twitter or Facebook.


  1. Yay! Love this! Also, I just ordered The Maze Runner :)

  2. Oh my goodness, your posts always amaze me. I hadn't even thought about this. I mean, I want my book to be perfect and I've been editing like crazy. Perhaps too crazy.

    Perhaps I want it a little too perfect. :) But the thing is, all of my beta readers LOVE the book so far. And even though they have all had their complaints, they love it anyway.

    If J.R.R Tolkien waited for perfection, I think I wouldn't be the reader/author I am today. The Hobbit is by far one of my all time favorite books and movies! Good thing Peter Jackson didn't wait for perfection either. :)

    I think I am going to relax and not stress that it has to be beyond perfect. :) Thank you so much! <3


  3. I thought you were going to say something else, but this is an excellent post and something I need to remember.


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