The blogosphere is flooded with writing advice. Ten Points About Thrillers. Seven Things Your Query Must Have. Three Drinks to Drown Your Rejection. Eighteen Ways to Cook Bacon.
I've read some good stuff the past few weeks. Over at KillZone, Jordan Dane had a good one about suspense/thrillers: TEN TIPS on Pace and Structure in a Thriller.
The first tip -- Start with a BANG and explain later -- is worth the price of admission.
That said, there's some pretty terrible advice out there, too, from folks who have no business offering advice. Folks who haven't sold novels are giving advice on how to write novels. People who have never sold a story are telling you how to plot stuff. Folks who don't know blurb from jacket copy are offering marketing advice. "Use Twitter and Facebook to build a fanbase." Really? Use the Internet? Wow. Thanks.
People with no track record for writing are telling you how to write. That's like having JD Salinger give you advice on
Heck, sometimes I even offer advice when it's pretty clear I don't know what the hell I'm doing. You want to know how to spit out a tooth after catching a fist with your face? I'm your guy. Getting completely and horrendously and contortionally narded while attempting to navigate a subway turnstile? That's me. Write a best-seller that gets made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and that dude from that cop show? Um, not it.
And, yet, even advice meant as a pure goof can be useful, I think.
Check out the #pubtip and #writetip discussions on Twitter.
Some speak to style:
jaystringer: Your agent query letters should all be written in iambic pentameter#pubtip
Some speak to marketing:
brianlindenmuth: Get a picture taken with a famous author at a signing event then tell everyone it was a joint event #pubtip (this really happened)
Some speak to nudity:
keithr34: When meeting a prospective publisher for the first time, pants them and then point and laugh at his/hers genitalia #pubtip
For me, all advice is helpful. I love everyone. I am grateful for each person who has ever offered any help. People don't have to do this. People are busy, yet they take time to offer comments, compliments, criticisms and so forth. And, quite honestly and all kidding aside, authors are some of the nicest, most generous folks I've met -- especially those authors in the mystery/crime fiction community.
So I was surprised to get this note from Johannes de Silentio about advice to writers. I had said that all authors are nice and this de Silentio guy disagreed via email. I'll leave you with his thoughts as I'm busy reading a book someone suggested to me last week -- HOW TO WRITE LESS CRAPPIER.
Johannes de Silentio's NOTES ABOUT WRITING ADVICE -------------
Steve, let's be clear, here. You're so naive. Most writers want you to fail. It's crowded out there. Every writer hates you because you're taking away a chance for them to succeed. Only so much room on the shelf, right? So you should always keep that in mind. Published writers all want unpublished writers to always fail all the time.
Let's look at some of this advice.
1. Be patient.
That old advice to take your time? Haha. Nice one, published author. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Yeah, me working and working for decades while your book sells. Pretty clear you're scared of my awesomeness of awesome. I will not hide from you. Who the hell do you think you are? I will finish my manuscript as quickly as I can. I will send it out immediately. Let's be honest here. Big book companies hire proofreaders, so why should I take any time to do that? I have to write the sequel. Let the editors and readers and agents proof. I am a writer. I write. And drink coffee. I don't have time to be bothered proofreading.
2. Write the best book you can.
Cuh-rap. You ever see a writer stop at one book? No. Never. Because they want to keep writing and getting those checks. If you wait to write the best book you can, you'll never do anything. And if your first book really is the best book you have in you, why write a second? No, these fancy authors living in their big Paris lakehouses are just trying to slow us down. No, this may not be the best book I can write, but it's better than most of the crap out there. I will send it out now because I want my check.
3. Worry about the book, not the money
Uh, right. That's why I write. That's why I spend a whole freaking two months of my life slaving away every lunch hour to write this book. Then I want to print it out and put it in my drawer. Because all I care about is the writing. Haha. You'd like that, wouldn't you, oh famous published writer giving out advice. Haha. No way. I want my check. I do not want a book in my desk drawer; I want my freaking check.
4. Having a bad agent is worse than having no agent
Oh, that's right, oh published author. Do you have an agent? Yeah? Why? Because an agent works with you and gets you your book deal? Because they're indispensable? Right. And you're trying to trick me into NOT getting an agent? Sure. Next you're going to tell me that having a bad book deal is worse than having no book deal.
5. Having a bad book deal is worse than having no book deal
You're kidding me, right? Yeah, I don't want a book deal at all, really. I just want to right the best book I can, right? What's a bad deal? Too small a press? They can't market me? Or too big and they won't? Yeah, that's what I thought. The only kind of book deal that's bad is one that you don't have. No one ever got paid anything without a book deal. And I want my damn check.
------- Here Endeth The de Silentio Lesson