Bad Writer! Bad! by Patty Blount

 If there's one thing I've learned in the decade or so since my first book was published, it's that there is a LOT of bad advice out there. 

A lot. 

The thing to remember is there is no one-size-fits-all, guaranteed-or-your-money-back way to write. There just isn't. Writers, you have to find what works for you, but too often, that means swimming through the muck of polluted water to find those techniques. 

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was born out of the worst advice. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but hear me out. 

When SEND was going through copy edits, I read a comment that still has my jaw dropping every time I think about it. Here's the page, taken right from the book. (Italics indicates lines from "Kenny," a hallucination of Dan's.)

We're in main character Dan's head. He's the POV character. He's a teenage boy carrying a dark secret. 

At the top of the page, you're reading a scene directly after having sex with heroine Julie. 

He's having second thoughts. His emotions are out of control. 

Do you see the line at the top, "Oh God. I had sex with Julie. I should be shot."

My copy editor flagged this and changed it to "I had had sex with Julie and should have been shot." 

Keep in mind, this was my first novel. I thought I had to change everything the editors flagged. 

I hated this change with the passion of a thousand suns. Dan would NOT speak that way! I mean, sure, he'd know all about the past perfect tense because he was a good student, but he'd never speak that way and would most definitely not speak that way while in the middle of an emotional crisis like this. 

I was sick over this. I believed I HAD to change this line their way and I couldn't do it. Finally, I talked to my agent and he said I absolutely did not have to correct that line. 

Doing so would change the voice. MY VOICE. That's what makes this book a Patty Blount book. 

If I sound like a diva, YEAH! That's my point. Not all advice is good. I knew, in my gut, that this particular change would negatively impact my story. I said no, and the book was published as I wrote it, with Dan's grammar mistakes evident. 

That is how I envision a teenage boy speaking. 

So I learned a lesson here and that was not all advice applies to all authors or even to all works. It's okay to disregard some of it. It's okay if advice that every other finds helpful doesn't work for you. 


  1. I agree, other people messing with YOUR voice need to be fed to rabid goats.

  2. All the times I heard, "change tgis" or "change that" was the reason I self published, lol. Being true to yourself and your authentic voice as a writer is one of the great challenges of the publishing industry. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns!

  3. That is SO TRUE about editorial letters. You absolutely don't have to follow every single suggestion. Even big plot changers. That's such an important point. I'm glad you brought it up.

    1. Agreed and I wish this is something all new writers find out early!

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