Friday, April 2, 2010

The best advice you never got.

I know you've had those "advice" and/or "tips" from well-meaning but clueless other writers, blogs or places online. You know the ones. "Use other verbs instead of said at the end of a dialogue!" and so on...

What was the worst piece of advice you ever got in your writing career?

Mine was...well, I have two.


The one I used above there. I was told that books would pop SO MUCH MORE if I used other verbs in my dialogue tags. And I have one entire book (my first after I got serious about writing once again) that doesn't have a single said in it. They moaned, or laughed, or winked, or whatsit.


The other was:

"Go ahead and quit your day job! If you are a writer you are ONLY a writer."

Patently false, and I didn't do it then, and won't do it now. I think I need to be out in the real world to see the colours and people, and why quit and just sit at a desk to think about my books? I think about them much better when I'm out doing stuff. I love living in my head, but I love it MY way, not what others think should be my way.

And you?


  1. The most bizarre bit of writing advice I got recently (from a tutor on a course) was to capitalise the first word of the first paragraph of the articles I submit to editors.
    1. I've never done this on the couple of years I've been freelance and it's never been mentioned by editors and I've still managed to get several pieces published.

    2. I won't be doing it anytime soon!

    Trouble is everyone thinks their advice is right, but as writing is subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one size doesn't fit all, and what works for one writer won't for another - find a way that works for you is what I always say!


  2. An agent told me I needed to kill off one of my characters, and at first I did. But one of my beta readers told me it didn't feel right, and he was absolutely correct. I am in the middle of changing it right now and it is sooooo much better.

  3. When is doubt, don't use commas.


  4. The worst advice was from a former agent years ago. She insisted that I shell out thousands of dollars for a freelance editor or ghost writer. I don't mind writing peers reading my work and giving me honest critiques, but I wasn't willing to shell out any money. I always believed that my own skill would get be published. So she was wrong. I didn't take her advice and I'm doing well today.

  5. Like you, the worst advice I got from a writer (or rather, graphic novelist) was NEVER to use "said." UGH! An editor kindly corrected m, and I've never made the same mistake again.



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