What's the worst writing advice you've ever been given?
Mine is "you have to write every day." Totally impractical for so many of us, but you hear this all the time! I have a writing schedule, but it is *not* daily.
(Full disclosure: I'm writing an article about this on spec and would like to mention some of your "worst advice," so please let me know if you're willing to share. If not, would still be curious to hear your worst advice!)
I agree totally: theres a lot to be learned from successful screenwriters, especially story arc and characterization. And writing for Hollywood would be great if I were a screenwriter! But Im not. Screenwriting would be a whole new animal to me as a writer.
You'll love this: Why don't you get a ghostwriter to finish your novel? A friend, who obviously doesn't and won't ever get that I'm a "writer" and that "writers" write. I laughed and then I didn't answer her.
That is very funny!
Fun to see some new comments on this thread! Update: I wrote the piece I mentioned above, pitched it over the winter, and it will appear in The Writer magazine in August under the title "You don't need to write every day."
That's awesome - can't wait to read it, Kathy!
Write about what you know.
If we all did that there would be a lot of bored readers out there and certain genres would not exist - fantasy, sci-fi, historical novels. The point of fiction is that it isn't real.
Goodness, I honestly didn't mean to filch your point--I didn't even read to the end! Good to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Great topic and I've got one! "Write what you know." I'm sure whoever said that first was sincere and probably a non-fiction writer, but I think this advice limits all writers.
As a novelist, if my books were based on what I know or have experienced they would be very boring. There's a reason I write -- my characters have much more fun, explore more emotions, times, places and events than I ever will. That's why it's called creativity and that's why people read novels ... to escape what they know.
And I think even a non-fiction writer will learn things they don't know from researching their own potential book ideas. Even the best expert needs references, opinons, insights and history just to provide a well-rounded, well-researched book. That means ideas other than their own. The exception to this is people who write autobiographies because it really is all about them. For the rest of us, I think it's healthier to delve into the unknown.
How true Ava. I live vicariously through my characters. My real life isn't all that interesting!
"If the story starts on page three, trash the first two pages..." or something to that effect.
This advice confuses to me to no end. I've read many a fabulous PUBLISHED novels and short stories that had captivating openings full of exposition or other commentary that proved to be absolutely necessary for the story as a whole. I understand cutting extra fluff that doesn't hold any water in the story, but to edit out important character details, setting points, etc. can remove the essence of a piece.
What if page 3 is the one that stinks! This can't be a blanket rule for everyone. I agree with you.
Funny you should mention "exposition." That is one of the most dreaded sins that new writers commit, according to many "experts." I pointed out to one such expert that many well-known authors make liberal use of exposition. I was told that there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Apparently, traditional authors always do it right and indie authors always do it wrong.