Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Writing Advice We Should NEVER Follow!


by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Have you noticed the phenomenon that occurs when you confess you’re writing a book? 

It doesn’t matter if you’re an established author with thirty-plus books under your belt, or someone working on a first novel. 

Announce you’re writing a book, and you’ve opened yourself up for unsolicited advice.  

Today, I'm going to share some of the writing advice you should never follow!

1. Write what you know. On the surface, this may sound like savvy advice. It’s not. With the advent of the Internet, we can do the research and find out almost anything. We're no longer limited to our own personal experience.

2. Write every day. Again, it sounds good. Surely someone who’s serious about something will do it every day. Truthfully, we all work better when we take time to relax and let our minds rest.

Never read what you're writing.
3
. Never read what you’re writing. I’ve never found this to inhibit my output or the quality of my work. I’ve found that reading keeps the writing fire stoked. Just be sure you’re not reading instead of writing.

4. Write dialogue like you talk. We all want the dialogue we write to read like a real conversation. But the smart writer knows that means taking the boring parts out. Listen to a real conversation or better yet, record one. Then write it out. You’ll see how truly awful it is.

5. Never use clichés. Never is NEVER good advice when it comes to writing. Sure you want to avoid clichés—in narrative. But the fact is, we all use them occasionally. Judiciously sprinkling them throughout dialogue can give your writing a familiar flavor that helps the reader connect with your characters.

6. Never use the verb was, it’s passive. Sometimes the word was is passive, sometimes is just past tense. How to tell? The quickest way is to see if it’s helping another verb, like, She was sleeping. That’s almost always passive. A better option would be, She slept.

7. Always outline before you write. Some people are known as plotters—or those who prefer to outline their story before writing. Others, referred to as pantsers or intuitive writers, like to discover the story as they write. The best way to do it? The way that works for you.

Real writers don't have to do rewrites.
8. Real writers don’t have to do rewrites.
I’ve never spoken to a writer who didn’t need to do rewriters. I’ve heard rumors, but I suspect I’m more likely to get an in-focus picture of a Sasquatch than meet one of those elusive novelists.

9. Always write in the same place. Most of us need variety, and that includes the place we work. Sometimes I write at my desk, others at the dining room table, and on good days, the screened porch out back.

10. Don’t begin to build a platform until you have a contract. This is the worst advice I’ve ever heard, and there are two major reasons. First, if you wait until you have a contract to build your platform, you’ll probably have a hard time getting said platform. Second, you will be way behind. It takes a good year to a year-and-a-half to build a viable platform. 

As you may have noticed, the first clue the advice you’re hearing is suspect are the use of the words ALWAYS and/or NEVER.

Now it’s your turn, what’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever heard?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,Edie

TWEETABLES



25 comments:

  1. Great post. I've heard most of them and agree with your rebuttals. One I heard involves self-publishing. "Only losers self-publish. Don't even think about it...never." I think that's an unfair, unkind and uninformed comment to make. There are successful writers who began their writing careers as indie writers or have tackled it after their successes. Never say never.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharron, that a great addition to the list! I hate hearing that self-publishing is always a bad idea. I know many authors who are doing it with excellence and pride. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

      Delete
  2. For me, the worst advice I get is "just keep writing." I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and if I know my character, plot, or setting has a change from what I wrote, I tend to edit first, then continue the writing. Sure it's taking me longer to finish my novel, but at least I'm not sending my characters west when they need to head east. Mentally, it helps me know that they are track for the story being told. *I am recently discovering, however, the benefits of just writing through it completely and fixing it later. It's not as detrimental as it once sounded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Molly Jo, I think you've hit on the heart of the matter. What works for you, may not work for me and visa-versa. Any time someone tells me I have to do it a certain way, my sceptic radar begins to shout warnings! Great insight, I appreciate you sharing! Blessings, E

      Delete
    2. Bad Advice: Stick to one style.
      It helps to do articles, book reviews, blogging, and other forms because it tightens your skill and broadens your abilities!

      Delete
    3. Sally, excellent addition! Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, E

      Delete
  3. "Show don't tell." Sometimes, it's more practical to tell...especially during narration or exposition. "NEVER use adverbs." When adverbs are no longer included in the Parts of Speech, I'll adhere to that rule!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, you are so right! Both great things to add to the list. Thanks for sharing! Blessings, E

      Delete
  4. Great advice all around - many thanks for y'all's insights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynn, you're so right - so much good stuff in the comments! Blessings, E

      Delete
  5. Great wisdom, Edie! One of the greatest insights I had at my first writers' conference was that I had received conflicting advice from wonderful writers that I thought the world of. It really illustrated the point you are making: Do what works for YOU and delete the words never and always! The worst advice I think I've heard is "don't quite your day job" - on the contrary, as Steven James advised, "You MUST quit your day job - even if it is just mentally. You must begin to think of yourself not as an ______________ who is 'trying to write a book' but as a writer!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Felicia, it can be so confusing! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

      Delete
  6. In point 6, "She was sleeping" is an example of the past progressive tense, which is useful in sentences such as "She was sleeping when the cat jumped on her." The simple past--"She slept"--won't let you do that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, Mike. Passive Voice of a verb is actually Be + Past Participle. For example, when someone says "Mistakes were made" instead of "I made mistakes," they're speaking in Passive rather than Active voice. There are times when it's appropriate to use Passive. It allows you to talk about an action or event without the subject or taking the focus off the subject. But when it comes to any kind of narrative, Active voice usually works better.

      Delete
    2. Bad Advice: Never use "ing" words. How is it possible to write a novel without "ing" words? If we use them too much; that's a mistake. But never? Hmmm.

      Delete
    3. Mike and David - love the discussion - such great stuff! Thank you, Blessings, E

      Delete
    4. Peggy, another GREAT addition! Thanks for sharing, Blessings E

      Delete
  7. I know this is not related to the post but I just wanted to ask which blogger template do you use?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Can you expound a bit on "building a platform"? Or would that take another blog? Thanks for all your posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat, there are numerous posts about platform building here. I recommend you start with this post. It's the last in the series and at the end of the post are links to all the previous ones. http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2015/08/do-you-have-unrealistic-expectations.html.

      This is one addresses when to begin building: http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2015/06/social-media-basics-for-writers-part.html.

      I hope these are helpful! Blessings, E

      Delete
  9. This isn't advice but once peo9le lesrn I'm an author they want me to write their story. Not a biography, worse, they feed me all their ideas. I have too many of my own to worry about theirs so I tell them, "You need to write that story".

    ReplyDelete
  10. Amen Amen Amen!! Especially about the last one. The best time to start building your platform was yesterday - ha!! ;) J/K -- But start NOW!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Never start a sentence with "but." But...that's how people speak!

    Great article. #8 made me laugh!

    While I try to write SOMETHING on most days, sometimes it's an article, sometimes it's an email, sometimes it's a post to my favorite forums. And yes, sometimes you need to give yourself permission to veg out and watch TV or read.

    ReplyDelete