Getting writing advice is like getting diet advice; everyone and their uncle’s got a magic solution, or has heard some “expert” talk about this or that. Don’t drink milk, drink milk, coffee causes cancer, coffee is good for the heart – it’s an endless cycle of contradicting advice from “experts.”
Don’t use adverbs; don’t use dialog tags; don’t use more than one line of exposition… blah blah.
I am no expert on writing, but I do know a thing or two. The number one things when taking writing advice is to use your common sense. Don’t use unnecessary adverbs. Don’t overuse dialog tags. Key word – moderation.
I love a good book about writing fiction. I’m a nerd for it. But, I’ve picked up more than a few cheesy, gimmicky books about writing that guarantee you’ll write a bestseller in three months with our easy to follow five-step program! Or with the purchase of a webinar.
In an honest overview, there is no magic bestseller formula. There’s no secret code that only the published writers know. There’s no grow-lamp. Great books sometimes don’t get published. Terrible books sometimes do get published.
When you receive feedback or advice; take it with a grain of salt. Don’t take one person’s opinion as the only advice out there. As a writer/reader and a feedback giver, it is hard for me to not be biased. I try to remind the writer that all of my advice or feedback is my opinion, and that the next reader may feel the exact opposite of me. Because it’s true.
While I dislike long-winded narrative paragraphs, the next reader might enjoy it. It depends on tastes.
My advice for writing advice is to read all the writing advice you can. Take it in. Digest it. Find the common points between all the advice, then decide if you want to change your style or not. Let your style grow on its own. Don’t let other people tell you how your style should be; it’s YOUR style. The book industry is based on subjectivity, and there will always be a number of people that dislike what you write and how you write it.
Writing advice should be free, which is why I started a blog instead of trying to make a profit. Writing rules and publishing standards are always changing, and the advice changes with the trends. Everything I say now could be outdated in ten years; I try to keep my advice timeless, like ‘go easy on the adverbs,’ but you never know – adverbs could come back around. I hope not, but I’m not denying the possibility.
Read writing advice like you read fiction; read and read widely.