Jeffrey Tayler has a helpful essay on advice for those who want to write fiction. He notes that The Atlantic, where he serves as a correspondent, receives every year 60,000 unsolicited non-fiction manuscripts and queries, 12,000 short stories, and 75,000 poems. The competition to be published is tough.

Here is one of his words of wisdom:

I take for granted that if you want to be a writer, you’re a wordsmith, a lover of the classics and a connoisseur of literature. Writers must, initially and throughout their lives, be readers first and foremost, and readers not primarily of journalism, but of the classics, both modern and not-so-modern. I also take for granted that aspiring writers know how to compose a proper declarative sentence and don’t misuse words. Reading the classics will help hone your ear, but there are many good books on usage out there and writers should read and digest them and reread them. Inspiration and an esprit frondeur won’t help aspiring writers who don’t know the basics of their craft. No matter what motivates you, no matter what experiences you have and seek to put down on paper, editors buy well-written words, and your writing has to be exceptional if it is to see print.