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The pain in the butt that is writing advice…

 

Writers: Follow this piece of advice! You suck if you don’t!

Also, writers: Don’t follow writing advice! All advice is stupid, write what you want!

 

You can’t go anywhere without reading some sort of advice about how to write a novel. For one piece of advice you read, you’ll find a conflicting one on another website.

But especially for those writers who are just starting out, all that advice can be a little overwhelming. With so many different sources, and no official rule book, it’s easy to get confused. So, for all of you who are new to writing (and those of you who aren’t,) remember this:

  • Don’t get stressed over a piece of writing advice you read a hundred times, and think you’re not a good writer because you don’t do it.
  • Everyone has their own opinion. And that is sort of what writing advice is- people’s opinions.
  • Tea is better than coffee.

 

 

So, should you take writing advice, or should you ignore it?

Honestly, you should do both. But be careful about what advice you chose to follow. What is right for one person, is not right for another.

 

Do:

  • Pay attention to advice about character development and plot. These are learned skills. While every method is slightly different they operate virtually the same way. Pick the one that works for your genre and story.
  • Grammar is a given. Although keep in mind grammar might differ with character voice within dialogue.
  • Advice regarding pace, tension and conflict are also important. Again, it may differ slightly depending on genre but are necessary in helping story progression.

 

Don’t:

  • Worry too much about stylistic advice such as using descriptions, showing and not telling etc. Take these with a grain of salt.
  • Yes, prologues and epilogues are sometimes seen as unnecessary, (I’m looking at you J.K Rowling,) but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them if you don’t want to.
  • Show not tell depends on the person. Someone who lacks detail, and whose writing reads like a report could benefit from show, don’t tell. Someone else might purple prose and could do with a little less show, and a lot more tell.

 

It will take some time to learn which pieces of writing advice works for you, and what doesn’t. But while you figure it out, don’t assume you’re not a good writer, and remember that even published authors have made mistakes.

What’s the best/worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

 

Good thoughts and happy writing!

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