While doing research on-line I found various articles and blog posts that refer to bad writing advice. Just in case you were not confused enough I thought I share some.
Here’s what he said about it:
“Show, don’t tell.” News flash: writing is telling. It’s a completely linguistic art form. There’s no showing involved, unless you’re writing illustrated books like Dr. Seuss or graphic novels like Neil Gaiman. The real distinction to be made here is between writing descriptive language (e.g. when your character is drinking whiskey from a canteen around a campfire) and dynamic language (e.g. when your character is fleeing from rampaging cannibals through the underbrush). Both forms have their time and place.
I found this article very helpful. It’s by Jeff Sexton, and he uses a little real life advice from his high school swim coach to relate his spin on good vs. bad writing advice. Here is some of what he says about doing the backstroke:
“Don’t worry about putting your pinkie in the water first; that’s bad advice. Just relax your arm and roll your body as you swing your arm back into the water. Your pinky will naturally enter the water first — without you worrying about it — and you’ll have better mechanics.”
Once I started focusing on the principles behind the mechanics — and not on the outer form of the mechanics — my entire stroke transformed. And while the swimming tip was helpful (thanks, Coach!), the idea behind the advice has proved more so.
I read through the list and my favorite was #2.
Advice that cramps your imagination. Some people would have you write only from your own point of view or about a group to which you belong. That’s too rigid. Credible stories and poems have been written from the point of view of the opposite gender or from some other time or culture that you couldn’t possibly know personally. Writing is about pretending.
I think we all fall into this trap. We read so much about how to write and how not to write that we try to follow it all and it seriously cramps our imagination.
I also liked #11
Advice that insists there’s only one correct way to write, propose, query, or submit your work. For instance, you’ll hear: Avoid adverbs; never use the passive voice; don’t start a sentence with “there are.” Every one of these “rules” has been broken repeatedly to terrific effect by top writers. And while there are established formats for query letters, nonfiction book proposals, and novel synopses, for every successful sale based on those formats, there’s a major exception.
We need to follow our instincts when we sit down to write a story. Advice is great and I love to read articles on craft and style. I always learn great new things and want to apply it immediately, but we need to remember to keep it fun. If we take ourselves and are writing too serious than it becomes work.
I read this article by Carolyn Kellogg called Bad (even worse) Writing Advice and found something very helpful:
“The general consensus is that the NEVER and ALWAYS rules are pretty useless; there are always worthy exceptions.”
There were two themes throughout everything I read on bad writing advice.
The first applies to every aspect of our lives–nothing is ALWAYS and NEVER!
The second was to follow your instincts.
Before I close on this topic, one more article caught my eye. It’s funny–and a bit disturbed, but makes me feel a little less like a writing fraud. Get your shovels out for this one. It’s called, “Bad Writing Advice: A Great Big Steaming Pile Of –”
Which are your favorite bad writing tips or good writing tips?