Whats the best, and worst writing advice you've ever read/seen/heard of, or been given?

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,450
Here's another one:

You are writing a work of prose fiction, probably a novel or a short story. The same rules that apply for films, computer games, comics (especially manga) and anything else don't directly apply to what you're doing. They may well be useful but, by and large, the closest thing to a novel in terms of structure and construction is another novel. What works in one medium may not work as well in another.
 

DAgent

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2021
Messages
105
Will read more thoroughly through the thread later, but I saw no one had posted these, which I would consider an example of bad advice: the link The original writer of that list deleted them from her Twitter, but of course, nothing is really gone from the internet...
Yikes, some of those were really painful to read through, others had some validity to them. In some cases there seemed to be shades of "Don't write things I don't like".
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2021
Messages
334
...
Here's a bit of advice: Ignore anyone who gives their advice in buzzwords or slang, when they could explain themselves clearly.
As a postgrad student, I learned to dread encounters with the Critical Theory gang. I remember sitting in the bewildered audience during a conference paper, and being the only person with the guts to ask: "That word you keep saying- what does it actually /mean/?" Once you've decyphered their gnomic utterances, the result is often a) something straightforwards and bleedin' obvious or b) blatantly and provably wrong, but they've already left the room.

I was talking to a writing friend of mine yesterday about good advice that nobody ever gives. Her suggestion was "Don't perv over your own characters", which sounds ridiculous but now I look back over some older fantasy novels...
I can think of 2 recent-ish SF novels which break that rule. In one (the worse of the two), the female lead ends up involuntarily naked rather a lot. In the other, when a new protagonist arrives midway through, the frequency of the word "buttocks" goes through the roof.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,450
I can think of 2 recent-ish SF novels which break that rule. In one (the worse of the two), the female lead ends up involuntarily naked rather a lot. In the other, when a new protagonist arrives midway through, the frequency of the word "buttocks" goes through the roof.

I'm now hoping that there's a set of SF novels about a space captain called Buck Buttocks.

Buck Buttocks: Rear Admiral
Buck Buttocks: Back End of the Future
Buck Buttocks at the Arse End of the Galaxy
Buck Buttocks Goes To Neptune and Realises that the Joke Doesn't Work There


(Basically, I think the perving at your characters thing is far more obvious than some writers think, especially when there's some kind of fetish going on. I call this The Wizards First Rule Rule.)
 

JunkMonkey

Lord High Vizier of Nowt
Joined
Dec 19, 2010
Messages
2,663
Location
A wet, but photogenic, bit of Scotland.
What works in one medium may not work as well in another.

I would have thought "will almost certainly not work as well" would be more accurate. Book dialogue sounds awful if just transcribed and filmed straight. For one thing, 90% of movie characters address someone by name when they first appear on on screen for the first time in a way that no one does in real life or in a book.

Hello, Tom. Are you looking for me?
Oh! Hello, Mary. I didn't see you there.

If they didn't do that there would be no way for the audience to know what the characters are called.

Or stressing their jobs and relationships:

"Hi, ma it's me..."
"General, as chief adviser to the president and former chief of the CIA, what do you think..."
"Dammit! I know you're my ex wife but I'm still our son's mother...."*

Stuff that can be easily delivered in info-dump prose has to be shoehorned into info-dump dialogue.


- *I mistyped but suddenly I want to see this film!
 
Last edited:

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
25,401
Location
UK
Don't perv over your own characters
This is such a good point to make. It's dispiriting how many male authors do this, probably without realizing it. My suggestion for male writers to avoid that trap is to describe any woman character in the same terms as they would a sister, mother, or daughter.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,319
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Don’t fall in love with your project. As soon as you get into the flow of your next one, it’ll start to become as important as the one previously etc.

Just give your characters priority over plot, authenticity and to a certain degree the story will write itself.

Your story is about the character, what happens to achieve that is the plot. Don’t confuse the two.
 

GeorgeL

Fantasy and horror enthusiast
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
13
Location
Greece
The best advice i was given was to make writing a habit (Although i believe this is the most important thing for any skill someone wants to hone).
By being consistent at staying on my laptop and write (five days per week on average, because i have a day job too), i made writing a part of my daily routine.
This advice helped me reach almost the end of the first draft of the fantasy novel i'm writing right now, and made me more confident on my writing skills because of the volume of the work i managed to finish by writing daily.
In my opinion the mindset of treating your art seriously by investing time in it, like it is your day job, is the most important lesson any artist has to learn if he is serious on improving his craft, and wants the peope around him to take him seriously too as a professional.

Regarding the worst advice i was given, i have to say that i haven't yet heard an advice that i consider to be the worst.
i'm a supporter of the opinion that almost every advice is applicable under the right circumstances, and that every advice/rule can also be broken under the right circumstances.
I like to consider advices as tools that you pick and use in different ways, in the process of trying to get over with your project and improve on it, until you are fine with the final result.
 

Lumens

science fiction and everything inbetween
Joined
Apr 1, 2017
Messages
520
Location
UK
The best advice that I can remember right now is from Kurt Vonnegut:

"Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted."

He did make a few other points but they can all be broken. The one above really can't be.

Worst advice? I tend to ignore that stuff.
 

Zach777

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2022
Messages
51
Location
United States
So many of these are so good. I definitely agree on the one don't perv on your character. Some descriptions can be so awkward to read.

The worst writing advice I received was from my high school creative writing teacher. He said you can make up adverbs by adding 'ly' to any word, and you should use as many as possible.
 

NicoleBricks

New Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2022
Messages
2
I can't actually remember the worst one, but I can write what was the best. Last year my creative writing professor told me not to set any writing deadlines because the deadlines kill the magic of writing.
And I agree with him completely. Because before somethimes I used to set time frames, for example, I have to write a chapter till... And it was making me a little bit stressed, and I recieved no pleasure from writing.
So now I go with a flow.
 

Bramandin

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
99
"I can't get into his head." Which I took as a commentary on how I really didn't have a feel for the character yet because I wasn't allowed to work with him beforehand. Later they yelled at me for not following their advice to tell them what the non-POV character was thinking.
 

Similar threads


Top