I was watching So You Think You Can Dance last night (yes, I can't live without my DVR--I never watch live TV anymore), and something the judges kept saying caught my attention.
The gist was that if the dancers got "into character" and put the appropriate emotion in the performance, they could get away with a few technical errors. But, the opposite was not true. A flawless technical performance lacking emotion or story was not enough to cut it.
I think the same could be applied to writing. Grammatical problems or minor plot issues can be overcome with a great voice and style. It's more about the execution of the story, than its mechanics.
As I was flipping through The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman at BAM today, I was happy to see that he agreed. He basically said that execution was more important than plot for catching an editor's or agent's eye. If they don't get past the execution, they'll never read enough to get the plot anyway.
Not that we can afford to discount grammar or other technical issues--after all, we need to put our best foot forward--but we shouldn't forget that in the end, the story and how we tell it is what will grab the reader.
I guess I'd say, "Always improve your craft, but don't forget your voice."
The Daily Squirrel: soap (what's this?)
The scent of gardenias filled the steamy shower as she worked up a lather on the bar of soap. A familiar peace settled over her as her slick hands washed away the sweat and the lingering odor of cigarettes. Some day soon, she'd finish her degree, and she'd never have to work in a smoky bar again.