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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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Oct. 19th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
worst advice I ever got
"Don't waste your time selling stories to professional online magazines even if they pay the same as print and have a bigger reader base. Print is more important and has more gravitas with professionals than e-zine publications."

Oh, and the professional writers who told me that? They now sell stories to online magazines. Go figure.

Oct. 19th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Re: worst advice I ever got
"Get a dependable eletric typewriter"
was once good advice.
Obviously, things have changed.
Oct. 19th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: worst advice I ever got
The times they have a change... er, ed :)
Oct. 20th, 2011 07:42 am (UTC)
Re: worst advice I ever got
I was told by a friend not to bother submitting to a contest because the judges picked their friends as winners. She was mystified as to why I was ticked off when she bragged about winning second place. Her new theory was the the winners always wrote about apples.

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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