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Advice Please

July 23, 2009

New writers receive tons of advice. Some contradicts others. In the novel On Writing Horror revised edition, four writers were not asked what advice they would give to new writers but what advice they didn’t agree with. If asked, what advice would you not give to an amateur writer?

“Write what you know” I believe is one of the most common. Writing what you know is your comfort zone. Maybe ok when you’re starting out, but as you grow as writer, you should move in to unknown territory.

“Same time everyday” or “Set a daily word count” help get you in to a writing routine. Sometimes I write approximately the same time everyday and there are times I don’t. It just really depends on what is going on in my life. I like to set a daily goal but if I reach it and want to keep going, I do. Setting a daily word count shouldn’t restrict your productivity.

“Don’t read books on writing” kind of agree and disagree with. Some books are a waste of money. Then, there are books like The Elements of Style and maybe On Writing that are worth every penny. Read book reviews and ask other writers. It’ll help you weed out the bad from the good.

What advice have you been given and don’t agree with?

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Andrea loves to hear/read advice from other writers, but knows by now which ones to follow or leave alone. Gotta love freedom of speech.
6 Comments
  1. July 23, 2009 1:22 am

    I really agree with disagreeing about the advice to do with setting daily word count goals. I’ve found setting weekly goals much better because it allows for the ups and downs of life to not get in the way.

    I’ve also been discouraged from writing political writing, which I’ve ignored since Day 1 and continue to do so.

  2. July 23, 2009 7:27 am

    Many rules are really just made to be broken. There are just so many of them out there that to follow them all could really mess with your creative flow.

    No prologues. Don’t start your book with characters driving or on the phone. Don’t end a chapter with a character going to sleep. Etc, etc….

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. July 23, 2009 9:51 am

    I think that “write what you know” is pernicious. It should be phrased “know what you write”, ie. research your subject, don’t make obvious errors of fact.

    As for “Don’t read books on writing”, I would say “read lots of books on writing but don’t take any of them as absolute”.

  4. July 23, 2009 11:23 am

    Anything about word count at all. It’s not about quantity. It’s about getting it right.

  5. July 23, 2009 3:50 pm

    “Take a break from writing if you’re not feeling creative”. I took that advice and it was 18 years before I started writing again because I allowed everything else to take priority. I won’t be following THAT advice again.

    As for the “how-to” books, I used to think they could be really helpful but now I avoid the ‘Serious’ how to write books (the ones that make it seem all black and white rather than being a personal experiment when coming up with a style/philosophy, etc). This became especially true after reading “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card. The book itself was fine, but it simply drew examples of what to do or not to do from other books that the author liked or hated. In the end, it largely made me feel like the author was saying that writing for anything more than a hobby was unattainable for me and should be left to the professionals. So, I think knowing what I know now, I’d never recommend that people read how-to write books!

  6. July 23, 2009 7:42 pm

    This is my Friday Fiction post. I cannot figure out how to post to that link. Is there something I should know but don’t?

    b

    http://torristravels.blogspot.com/2009/07/friday-fictionwhy.html

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