Advice of an iffy sort


Bad Writing Advice-Sorta:(John Clark-NKOB) Three come to mind that I think are worth sharing. The first is ‘Write What You Know’. Granted this works in many instances, but what if you’re writing fantasy, or science fiction? In those instances, internal consistency is more important. After all, it’s YOUR world and hopefully, your rules, but heaven help you if what you said was real on page 56 is contradicted on page 142. If you’re like me, you sometimes write to entertain and discover for yourself. Many times I’ll begin a short story with just a fragment of an idea and when I’m done, it’s as much a surprise to me as it is to readers. My sister, Kate Flora, refers to this as the can of peas phenomenon, where you come out of a daze in the supermarket, staring at a can of peas because one of your characters just hijacked the story.

 Perception is an integral part of writing and often beyond the writer's control. Is the focus of this picture a flower, or an insect?

Next is ‘Make it as perfect as possible before letting anyone else read it.’ Sometimes what might seem like a wart to you will be appealing to Beta readers, so don’t be afraid to let others see the unvarnished. Their feedback will often take your story in a new and better direction.

 Again with perception, is this art, or trash?

The third piece of advice isn’t necessarily bad either, but depends on logistics and the era. When I started writing, the internet was in its infancy. I live in a big state with a small population. That has always meant traveling is part of life if you want a job, be part of an organization, etc. That applies to writers’ groups. Most were held in the Portland area, with others having a short life. The first one I joined had three people and I quickly learned the other two were allergic to constructive criticism. I went three times before it died. The other I joined was a most interesting bunch. A transgender woman writing a romance novel, a poet, a woman writing Christian westerns, two writing memoirs (one personal, the other a town history), another writing a book of evangelical exhortations and me, writing a young adult fantasy novel. Given that no one was writing the same kind of stuff, criticism/feedback was hit or miss. Sadly, even with so much more being done online, writing groups in Maine remain like unicorns.


  1. Oh, man, I TOTALLY agree with that second one. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is bounce a really rough draft around. (And other writers know what REALLY rough drafts look like--it's totally cool.)


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