On the other hand, it is necessary to review the negative influences on occasion.
If I were to take a WAG (project manager slang for “Wild-Ass Guess”) at positive/negative writing advice, I would categorize it as 70/30. I received outstanding writing advice. There are also tales of woe on the interwebs (and in person), but these tales serve as a pointed reference to “don’t do that.”
I’m a big believer in learning not only from my mistakes, but from your mistakes as well!
Some advice I received, however, sucked. Sucked dead bunnies through a garden hose sucked. This topic is blogged periodically, but it’s good to review the badness in order to recognize the goodness. In no particular order:
**You have to outline
If any singular writing advice caused me grief, this was it. Imagine an outliner who carefully has a three-color index card method of outlining, with each color corresponding to the beginning, middle and end of a novel.
Now tell that person to write a novel without outlining.
The opposite is true for some people.
Thankfully, this advice is becoming passé as modern creative writing techniques recognize a wide variety of plotting styles.
I actually devised my own outlining method. It’s loosey-goosey, but it works for me.
**Before writing a novel, you need to become proficient in writing short stories
This is almost as bad as the outlining advice. There are people who need to write a novel before they can actually write a good short story. I was one of these people. My short stories sucked. Then I wrote a novel. Then my short stories did not suck, because I got it. I learned so much in writing a novel that I learned the necessary elements in storytelling to write a short.
**Your work should contain no derivative elements
Ug. Try writing genre fiction containing not a single element explored by a novel already published. You can’t. I learned that voicing, then, is everything. Your unique voice, rather than your idea, is what sets you apart.
As long as you plot doesn’t suck, that is.
**Write what you know
This isn’t exactly bad advice, but pithy advice. Thanks. That is helpful. Really. Tomorrow I am going to climb into my sentient space ship, which will deliver me to a different planet via FTL with a hyperspace hop, so I can have hot lesbian sex. Cause then I would know what it was like.
Henceforth, this should be “write in your unique voice”. Because that is what people really mean when they say “write what you know.”
Man, if ever went down the dark path, duped by well meaning advice--that was the doozey. Swear to God, one of my beta readers was going to KILL ME for not putting commas in appropriate places.
Now, I regularly abuse commas. Commas are my bitches. I am a Comma Pimp. At home, I line commas up on a mirror and snort them.
How about you?What bad writing advice have you received?