Back in the day I had ambitions of blogging lots of craft tips. I had so many ideas and so many things to say.
Obviously, that hasn’t panned out.
There’s so much writing advice out there already that I don’t want to add to the pile. Half of it’s from writers who are a lot better than I am…and the other half is nonsense.
With the pressure to blog, writers who have no idea what they’re talking about drift toward craft topics. It inevitably echoes advice repeated so often it makes us stabby. Show, don’t tell! No adverbs! We’ve already heard it a million times along with a litany of writing “rules” stated as if they’re given. These types of articles seldom explain WHY we’re not supposed to use adverbs or what we’re supposed to show. They don’t tell us that rules can be broken.
I used to participate in critiques on different sites, but got disillusioned fast. Too many writers don’t actually want feedback. They put up their work to be told how amazing it is, and anyone that doesn’t agree is overcritical.
Bottom line, it’s a waste to give advice to someone that doesn’t care.
These days writers have to write and market and every minute is precious. Some people are great at both, while others write well and never get discovered because they don’t know how the system works. We’ve also got a fringe of authors who are great marketers and not so great writers. If you’re selling books, then good for you! Selling books is great. Every time someone puts your book in their cart, there’s a chance they’ll buy mine too.
The industry has room for all kinds of writers and I’m not going hate on anyone who’s selling. My point is that you shouldn’t take writing advice from amateurs who are still learning the ropes. You definitely shouldn’t take it from people who care more about marketing than craft (ask them for marketing advice). Don’t take it from me, either.
Look to established writers that you read and respect. I take my advice from Neil Gaiman, and his Eight Rules of Writing (via The Guardian) are the best I can offer you:
- Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
- Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
- Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
- Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
- Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
- Laugh at your own jokes.
- The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.