Thursday, February 4, 2010

Writing Advice

by Dave White

You all know me, you know what I do.

Make fun of blogs.

But I'm serious about this one...

If you cruise through the writing blogs, one of the things you'll notice is everyone and their mother is handing out writing advice.

Outline, don't outline. If you do it right the first time you won't need a lot of revision. Keep everything off the page. Use as many details as possible. Adverbs suck. Adverbs rule.

And everyone will be adamant about their advice. Whether they've written fifty novels or whether they've written one fan fiction short story published in some chat room. (Note: The fan fic people will not being willing to change or bend their advice. They are right. They are always right.)

But here's the one piece of writing advice you (if you are a new writer) need.

Do what works for you.

It's that simple. Go through the blogs, read what everyone has to say, whether they're a good writer or a bad writer. Whether they've written 14 NY Times Bestsellers or wrote that piece of Klingon FanFic. And then think about what they say. Don't just listen idly. Think about what they say, try it, and decide if it works.

If it doesn't work, it's not for you. If it does... great.

Everyone writes differently. And, what I'm finding out is, each person writes each piece differently. My first two novels were seat of your pants first drafts following one character around with a ton of revision. My latest was: outline, seat of your pants, outline, revise, revise, revise, character sketch, revise, re-read, revise.

And the next one is going to be different too.

But that's okay. That's what's working on this one.

So, once again, here's my advice. DO NOT LISTEN TO ALL THE BLOGS... In fact, you're probably better off selecting 3 or 4 you like (like DSD!!) and ignoring the rest.. .and take the writing advice that helps you...

Good luck!


Chris said...

Dave, I couldn't agree more. When I first got it in my head I was going to write a novel, I eagerly read any book or post on writing I could find, and it damn near paralyzed me. One of the most important things I learned along the way is that advice -- even advice from brilliant writers whose prose and plotlines I admire -- is only as good as the work it does for you.

James Reasoner said...

Absolutely right, and well said.

Jay Stringer said...

And the voices in your head. Listen to their advice, they know whats going on.

Anonymous said...

That's just about the best advice. I struggled with meeting writing goals until I finally gave up on everyone else's way and did it my way. Since I'm not like everyone else (and I don't have their schedule) it was impossible for me to meet my goals. I am a much happier (and more productive) writer now!

Joelle Charbonneau said... got it. What works for me ain't going to work for you. We have different processes and different voices and that is the way it is supposed to be!

Bryon Quertermous said...

I love writing advice, withing reason (I too hate unpublished writers who spout off writing advice). I'm actually something of a collector of writing advice, quotes, and books about writing. But I'm a bit different than many. Much of my fiction is about writers and writing and I love the whole meta aspect of it, so reading writing advice gives me a window on other writers and who this whole thing works for them.

But again, I'm different. Shocker. I know.

Eric Beetner said...

Amen to this post, Dave. Someone needed to say it!

Gargantua said...

I tend to cruise the sites looking for "writing advice" when I get stuck. I don't do it because I think everyone else has the answer and I'm just a drooling moron. I do it because I hope to find a tip or trick I haven't tried before. And sometimes that new little tip helps me get past the bump.

You are quite right. Writing is very much an individual pursuit and what works for one person might not work for another. It can still be fun to try something different, though.