ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

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King Author
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ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby King Author » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:29 am UTC

There's a lot of writing advice on the internet, and almost all of it is really bad. Now, part of this is the fact that posting on the internet gives one an inflated sense of authority, gives one the mindset that one is capable of dictating what's good and what's bad for other people. That aside, however, I think writing, more than any other art form, draws copious amounts of really bad advice. For some reason, we see writers as less of artists than, say, painters or composers. Nobody thinks twice about the fact that painting, for example, is apples and oranges and there is no right or best way to go about it, but writing doesn't hold the same prestige, or whatever it is.

Anyway, as the title says, post any particularly bad writing advice you come across.

Ugh, look at this...
http://threeguysonebook.com/50-things-a ... houldnt-do
It took four numbskulls to come up with that crapfest, and in fifty bits of "writing advice" they only hit on one thing that isn't purely personal taste -- "Don’t ask for advice or criticism if what you want is a pat on the back." Of course, that could apply to anything, really. That's more general advice than writing advice. Really good advice, to be fair though.

It wouldn't be as ridiculous if it weren't posited as "50 things writers shouldn't do," but rather as "a personal rant on things that tick me off in literature." Still, took four guys to come up with that one XD
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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Wolf » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:46 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Ugh, look at this...
http://threeguysonebook.com/50-things-a ... houldnt-do

That was pretty amazingly bad/subjective advice. What really annoyed me was that a lot of the points could have been made more legitimate if they'd bothered to expand on them at all. For example, having a character never act contrary to the patterns you've set up isn't how people work (everyone acts weird sometimes), but if they'd given that seem piece of advice and added "unless there's an in-character motivation for it" and it might have been a decent, if not breathtaking, piece of advice.
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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Kewangji » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:50 pm UTC

Did you miss: "10: You’re the artist. Ignore my rules."?
To me, it turned the list into 'things that tick me off in literature, this list is very subjective and I know it'.
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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby GhostWolfe » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:05 am UTC

Someone tweeted this advice article, and I was rather annoyed at the second and third entries. #1 and #4 make perfect sense, but if I cut everything that #2 and #3 suggested I cut, my stories would read "This is Rover. See Rover run. I like Rover. The fucking End".

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:09 am UTC

GhostWolfe wrote:Someone tweeted this advice article, and I was rather annoyed at the second and third entries. #1 and #4 make perfect sense, but if I cut everything that #2 and #3 suggested I cut, my stories would read "This is Rover. See Rover run. I like Rover. The fucking End".

/angell

Well, part of the problem is that he didn't explain what the hell he really meant. It's not so much cut adverbs as it is rewrite the sentences so that you get the same sense out of action verbs. Basically, if you can convey the same sentiment of an adverb as an action then you have stronger writing.

The tea and food thing is absolute horseshit: plus I guarantee that some of the research coming out of my university's English department would absolutely bore the ever living shit out of him or her because the focus is on the use of food in literature. Food can be an absolutely important part of character identification. There's a difference between eating government cheese and drinking a beer versus a glass of chardonnay. Cutting out food robs you of that form of character development.

As for that fifty characters list. Have these guys every read a vast swath of literature? Hell, that classic Victorian literature, even Shakespeare is full of pop culture references we don't get anymore.

And writing as you speak is a sure fire way to produce crap. You don't write like you speak.

Quite frankly, the problem is generally that people have the conception that to be a painter you have to have a skill to draw, etc... So they don't put in the time to ever develop that skill. Plus it takes money.

Writing: well hell, anybody can do that. Let me just fire up mah word processor here.

Which then creates a market for no-talent dillweeds with a penchant for "literature" and whose first novel flopped to make a living off of dispensing horrid writing advice to people who don't know better. Look at the Caro link, one novel and six minor publications in very small presses. That's not exactly somebody who is making a living off of writing.

What always amazes me is how much the writing advice from a writer making a living off their writing differs from these tards. Scalzi, radically different.

Though, I'm convinced that the best advice is, own a cat, take pictures of cat, post pictures of cat on blog. All of the author blogs I read, cat pictures... Though, there could just be my bias for reading blogs that post pictures of fuzzy cuteness.

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Jorpho » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

I am reminded of this recent article on Salon about how the "Bad Sex in Literature Award" has become more of an excuse for people to decry the usage of sex in literature, period.
http://www.salon.com/life/sex/index.htm ... 30/bad_sex

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:I am reminded of this recent article on Salon about how the "Bad Sex in Literature Award" has become more of an excuse for people to decry the usage of sex in literature, period.
http://www.salon.com/life/sex/index.htm ... 30/bad_sex

Which is sad, because then people wouldn't come up with such hilarious metaphors for sex. Honestly, if somebody put together a book of bad sex metaphors I'd probably buy it.

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Joeldi » Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:22 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
GhostWolfe wrote:Someone tweeted this advice article, and I was rather annoyed at the second and third entries. #1 and #4 make perfect sense, but if I cut everything that #2 and #3 suggested I cut, my stories would read "This is Rover. See Rover run. I like Rover. The fucking End".

/angell

Well, part of the problem is that he didn't explain what the hell he really meant. It's not so much cut adverbs as it is rewrite the sentences so that you get the same sense out of action verbs. Basically, if you can convey the same sentiment of an adverb as an action then you have stronger writing.

The tea and food thing is absolute horseshit: plus I guarantee that some of the research coming out of my university's English department would absolutely bore the ever living shit out of him or her because the focus is on the use of food in literature. Food can be an absolutely important part of character identification. There's a difference between eating government cheese and drinking a beer versus a glass of chardonnay. Cutting out food robs you of that form of character development.



I think it's more about not being purple prosish than it is about food. If something, and it's detailed description is important to your story, or atmosphere, or character development, then describe it. Otherwise, don't.
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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby jwwells » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:22 am UTC

Even GOOD writers giving advice tend to annoy me. I like elaborate Dickensian prose, prose that resounds with clever parallels and rich counterpoints and descriptive adjectives.

Hemingway ruined everything. Now you can't put two words together unless one's a verb.

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:58 am UTC

Hemingway was boring.

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Marbas » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

This:

Wavelength, or Lucidity in the Mire of Monoculture is Madness by Any Other Name


Is totally a good title for your upcoming novel
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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Idhan » Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:31 am UTC

I think Carol Bly's The Passionate, Accurate Story: Making Your Heart's Truth into Literature has some pretty bad writing advice in it. I'm not sure exactly how to turn her wrongness into a snippy quote. I think I just disagree with so much of her overall message that there's no contextless "gotcha" quote that can really convey how I feel about it. I'm going to look and see if there are some things I can post later, maybe.

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Re: ITT, we ironically appreciate bad writing advice.

Postby Jahoclave » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:40 am UTC

jwwells wrote:Even GOOD writers giving advice tend to annoy me. I like elaborate Dickensian prose, prose that resounds with clever parallels and rich counterpoints and descriptive adjectives.

Hemingway ruined everything. Now you can't put two words together unless one's a verb.

Well, there is good craft advice, but a lot of it is more general than most writing advice. I've certainly improved my writing through various coursework and such. There's was always a particular weakness I had in relation to character development and combining dialog with everything else. So it's not that you can't give good advice, it's just that such advice is more example based in nature (as in, this is what I'm talking about) and it isn't so nit-picky as don't have food. Quite frankly, I think Scalzi tends to be one of the better writers at advice giving because it's more broad.

Basically, I think it's realizing that what you really should be giving is craft advice, not writing advice. Especially with the dipshits who have a hard on for literary fiction because they can't conceive that it's a genre like everything else.

Oh, and the Nobel Committee can choke to death on the florid prose of a cock with veins that resemble african rivers. Seriously, choke on it and die. We f'ing invented genre fiction. So you can take that not contributing thing and shove it.

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