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When it comes to advice about writing fiction, just about the only thing you can guarantee is that if you ask 100 writers how to do something, you'll get at least 101 answers.

Most folks like to help other people, and when we try to point writers in (what we see as) the right direction, we mean well. The trouble is, some of our nuggets of wisdom are made of fool's gold. In fact, much of the advice you hear thrown about online and at writing groups is, at worst, complete piffle, and at best, completely wrong for you and your situation.

Here are some examples I've heard around the water-cooler at writing group meetings, conferences etc. or read online:


'Never use the passive tense.'

'Never use adverbs.'

'You should self-publish your book.'

'Don't self-publish your book.'

'Getting an agent or publisher is a crapshoot. Just keep sending out query letters. Sooner or later, you'll get one.'

'Post weekly chapters of your book online.'

'You don't need to bother with an agent these days.'

'Don't waste your time writing short stories. There's no money/future in them.'

'Avoid clichés like the plague.'

Okay, that last one's worth bearing in mind, but the others depend on your individual situation. 

As writers, we're always looking to improve, especially when we first start out, but when it comes to advice, take it all with a pinch of salt, and remember my old gran's wisdomous words: 'Advice and opinions are like spouses and children, they should be embraced or ignored at the individual's discretion.' 

How about you?

What was the worst writing advice you ever got?

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( 65 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 20th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
My favorites are forever the people who correct grammar and are wrong. I can never get away from how hilarious I find it when someone "corrects" my passive voice (or whatever) despite that it's not passive. *sigh*
Oct. 20th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
When it comes to advice, I steer well clear of all things grammar :)
Oct. 20th, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
A friend of mine was told by her boyfriend that she should quit writing and become an editor because that was what she "was good at." She dumped the boyfriend and published three novels (and counting).
Oct. 20th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
Ouch! I hope she doesn't regret her choice.
Oct. 21st, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
He was the kind of guy who looked down on anyone who didn't read Russian novels... in Russian. She's much happier as a published novelist than as Mrs. Snob.
Oct. 21st, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
Or Mrs. Snobovich :)
Oct. 22nd, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
lol - I'll remember that for the next time I tell the story.
Oct. 20th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
I love your gran's advice. Smart woman. I don't know about the worst advice but one the best pieces of advice I've received was the push to attend writing conferences. They are well worth the expense not only in improving craft but in the opportunites for networking and meeting like-minded souls.
Oct. 20th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
I love conferences. The Neggie-Nellies you often find at regular writing group meetings rarely attend (they (think) they know it all already), so it's a much happier experience :)
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( 65 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed


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