Week 8 - Worst Writing Advice I've Received #MFRWauthor #BlogHop
Before I delve into this week's Challenge Question, I'd like to share a little 'funny' with y'all, if you don't mind.
It kind of falls in line with today's topic, I think.
While subbing for a 5th grade class this afternoon (it's Thursday) I saw a Goes Home announcement on the teacher's desk.
The school is having a Bagel Drive, and it read as follows:
"All you have to do is (comma) bring in a dollar and turn it into your teacher."
Welcome back for Week Eight of the MFRW Author Blog's 52-Week Blog Challenge.
This week we are asked to discuss: The Worst Writing Advice I've Gotten
And, like always, I have to remark on that word, Gotten.
I gave it a better word in my Title, though.
This week's Challenge Question is both great and evil for me, but I'll try very hard not to expound on the Evil (as in, I'll TRY).
Just know I'm fully aware of the fact that I'm a fussbudget and am not the least bit proud, but trying to overcome said malady is tougher than you might think.
When thinking about it, I've probably received a great deal more bad advice than good, which is sad because I'm the type who not only craves good advice but tends to dwell on the negative as well.
There were even a few times when such advice prevented me from writing anything at all... including simple blog posts!
So, for this week's ANSWER, I'm going to go with Any Advice About Style.
- You might not like to write with background noise or at least instrumental music playing, but that doesn't make your way better or the right way.
- You might not like flowery prose, long-winded description, or even to read (write) a hint of what the main characters look like, but does that automatically mean no one else does, either?
- You might believe with all your heart that to write more than eight words per sentence is like admitting to being the Anti-Christ, but that doesn't (necessarily) make it so.
(throws in another wink)
And, believe it or not, there IS a time and a place for TELLING in almost every novel.
Yes, that's right... I said TELLING.
After a few years under my belt of going through far more anguish than reaping any benefits from finding a BETA reader,
(all of whom expected reciprocation from me, and which I fulfilled despite some of them telling me they weren't going to continue working with me because they didn't like my 'style'... and I still read their work to the bitter end and gave them an honest critique...)
I have learned just one thing, and that is to trust your own gut and go from there.
It became overly frustrating to hear people say, "You're telling the story and you need to show it instead," yet, not one of them was able to highlight even one instance of telling in order to help me understand.
That damned TELLING issue lasted nearly three years, people!
I stopped writing at one point, dug into research on the topic, and came up just as empty-handed and more confused than when I went in.
The more I searched for help, advice, and concrete examples of the difference between Show or Tell, the worse the nightmare became until I gave up.
On me, my desire to write, and seeking out advice in general.
What I got out of all that research was that Showing is Personification.
His heart was chainsawing its way through his chest.
Her eyes danced in the moonlight.
He saw her hair leaping about her porcelain-like shoulders.
She felt his (manhood) begging for immediate attention.
And a whole lot of author-injected sentences to 'explain' what is going on in a scene, what their main characters are thinking, feeling, and even doing, and to some extent 'backstory', or Once Upon a Time type writing... which, to me, is what TELLING sounds like and apparently I'm wrong and everyone else is right.
Also, lots of Like stuff... like a bird on a wing, like a song in my heart, like cream for coffee, and like Peter and Paul for Mary.
All of the things I personally can't stand reading in any body of work, by the way, so why on earth would I be expected to include it in my own writing?
It sounds ridiculous, mundane, cliche, and like the author is trying too hard to prove a point that most readers can conjure up in their own head by reading one key word in a sentence!
I also consider this to be a STYLE issue and not written-in-stone guidelines that must be adhered to or else.
One bit of advice I received about SHOWING drove me insane.
"Pretend you are holding up a video camera and then write what you're recording."
That's the best you can come up with, telling me to do something I, as a writer, do on a daily, hourly, by the minute basis day in and day out as it is?
Like my characters and their story aren't playing out in my head on a constant basis already?
Isn't it that way for EVERY writer?
For an analogy on FRUSTRATION, I am a substitute teacher, and much of my work is done with the Elementary age student.
I have yet to enter a classroom, grades K through 6, where there isn't at least ONE child who, when I say, "Everyone, please be quiet so I can explain the assignment!" who doesn't immediately shout back, "I didn't say anything!" or "It wasn't me!"
And, in other instances, when I'm looking directly at a child who is misbehaving and then call them out for it, said child will instantly argue, shout at me, "I didn't do it!" "It wasn't me!"
The unquenchable desire for me to stop everything and LECTURE said child on the pointless remark, their overly inflated ego, and perhaps even a guilty conscience issue looming large is great... but, in most cases I bite my tongue and keep forging ahead with the assignment.
This is precisely how I feel about someone offering 'advice' that isn't followed through with concrete examples or coherent explanation.
Ironically, I have to shout at BETA reader email replies, "SHOW me, damn it, don't just TELL me and walk away!"
It's beyond irritating, and it makes me want to question almost everything about them in return.
And, yes, of course I know how bad it all sounds... how childish and whiny I sound when I get this way.
I know it, and it doesn't make the situation any better for me, believe me.
I've read hundreds upon hundreds of novels since I learned how to read, and I continue to read to this day, especially the Romance genre but not exclusively.
Honestly, I don't see where their writing is any different from mine!
Well, with the exception of the personification and a ton of LIKE sentences, that is.
I read and read and read some more, and nothing I've read makes my work sound worse, pointless, or total garbage by comparison.
And, sour grapes or not, nothing gets my goat quicker than reading Best Selling Author work that doesn't deliver.
How in the world do they have so many friends to end up on that list when their work sucks?
And, before you break out the tar, feathers, and pitchforks, eight out of ten times it is their sentence structure, their lack of GPS knowledge (basic knowledge, really), their oddly worded sentences, or the simple fact that their synopsis said one thing but the stuff I just read completely missed the mark.
NOT about the way they write or their personal style.
That doesn't mean, of course, that some people's style of writing just isn't my cup of tea because that happens on occasion as well.
I just don't judge them negatively for it because that is a personal thing WITH ME and not that the author sucks as a writer.
An example would be authors who chop their dialogue to appear edgy or cool, like never including conjunctions and typing a whole lot of fragments being passed off as complete thought when it isn't.
Hey, if that's what you want to do... do it!
I just won't become your fan or read any more of what you have to say because it gives me a migraine.
IF what I learned is true and SHOWING means personification (giving inanimate objects human traits) and a whole lot of comparative LIKE sentences, then no, you'll not find that kind of writing in my novels.
And, as I mentioned earlier, what I learned from all this is that going with your gut instinct is most logical if you ever intend to write at all, much less publish your work and hope someone else enjoys it as much as you did while writing it.
For a time, I was under the mistaken assumption that it was me... that I was being stubborn or just too stupid to figure it out and get it done right.
As mentioned, though, I power-researched that stupid topic to DEATH and still came away feeling like I was missing some key element that would somehow make my work shine.
And, after all this time, I had to conclude that I was wrong, but not about the way I write, just the way I handled that stupid bit of advice... that practically ruined it for me and made me think I had no business wanting to write at all.
I'm not perfect, but then neither are you so there is that to keep us ALL going in this daily struggle called Being a Writer.
If we study the craft, read tons of others works, research things and bone up on Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling... well, who's to say we won't all end up on that coveted Best Seller List some day?
Assuming we all have THOUSANDS of friends, that is.
(last wink in this post, folks!)
My first novel, Sing to Me, is now FREE on KU and .99c otherwise if you are interested and want to discover why I wrote today's post (lol)
As always, I thank you kindly for dropping by and reading my entry!
Please scroll down to the LinkyLink Tool and click on the next in line to discover what they said is their WORST Bit of Writing Advice Ever Received (gotten, but whatever).
Blogging is an opportunity for authors to connect with readers. Despite being writers, blogging is an entirely different style of writing and often stumps us. To help our authors blog consistently, thoughtfully and with purpose, Marketing for Romance Writers is announcing the 2018 Blog Challenge. Each week, authors use our writing prompt to create a meaningful blog post. We'll be posting every Friday... join us as often as possible.
All authors with blogs are welcome to participate. It's very simple!