Five Writing Tips We Love to Hate

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From Writers in the Storm:

While perusing the Twitterverse recently, I happened upon a question that caught my interest. Author Jeff Richards asked, “What is your LEAST favorite common writing tip?”

We all have that one piece of advice that makes us roll our eyes when someone feels the need to impart that particular kernel of wisdom. Below, I’ve collected some of the most popular responses from Mr. Richards’ query. Everyone has their own interpretation as to the meaning of these gems. Let’s take a deeper look and I’ll give you my opinion (I’m full of them).

Write Every Day

“Write every day” is the one I hear most often and was also high on the Twitter list. The most common complaints about this piece of advice involve finding the time and/or the inspiration. Both can be quite difficult at times. You need to write consistently, but that may not mean every day in your particular life situation. I like to approach this tip more as, “Make time in your schedule for writing and stick to it.”

The truth is life doesn’t always give us a choice, so do your best and don’t kick yourself to hard when you stumble and miss a day or two (or in my case sometimes weeks). There are times you need to give yourself permission to say, “It ain’t happening today…”

. . . .

Don’t Use Prologues

I have to admit “Don’t use prologues” used to be one of my favorite pieces of advice. I always felt the need for a prologue meant you were starting your story in the wrong place. I also found a good number of the prologues I encountered were simply data dumps of back story that could have easily been woven into the fabric of the narrative or eliminated completely.

I’ve flipped my opinion on this one a little. Sometimes a prologue can set the proper mood for a piece or help the reader get anchored in an unfamiliar setting, especially when it comes to fantasy and science fiction. I think the key is to keep it short and don’t overload the reader with details you can work into the story when they are necessary. A lot of back story can be implied by context and world-building done by your character’s interactions with their surroundings.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

2 thoughts on “Five Writing Tips We Love to Hate”

  1. I always ask those who mindlessly proclaim “Show, don’t tell” if they know who Wayne Booth was. This almost always results in a “no,” especially from MFA-holding creative-writing instructors. Those who haven’t read The Rhetoric of Fiction — and it’s not exactly a new book — shouldn’t be claiming that they understand the distinction between the verbal constructions used in showing and telling and the narrative acts of showing and telling. That would be like explaining modern (quantum) physics without ever introducing multivariate calculus. Booth’s book, on the other hand, lays all of this out, with copious examples (many of which are themselves joys to read, and just might be appreciated by readers for themselves). It’s not definitive; it’s a starting point; but that’s entirely consistent with the concept of “learning about the Arts,” because nothing is ever definitive.

    I may be a refugee from high-falutin’ literary theory and such… but then, that’s my point: Don’t venture into theory-land without knowin’ some theory.

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