As we near All Hallow’s Eve, I thought it would be fun to search for some of the—shall we say, less stellar words of advice shared among writers. In keeping with the holiday, they’re only scary if you believe them.
NEVER USE ‘SAID’
‘Said’ is the invisible tag. Instead, make the reader slog through an assortment of dialogue tags—she murmured, he growled, she mouthed, he whispered, she sobbed. Show me a person who can growl or sob words.
It evokes an image of a character chewing up his hands and vomiting them on the floor. Same with, “the truck’s wheels spun, throwing up dirt onto the car behind him."
WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
Well, if you know what you know, certainly you know what you don't know. And if you know what you don't know, write about what you don't know! –got that?
REMOVE ‘THE’ FROM YOUR VOCABULARY. It’s holding you back.
WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER. Makes sense. Or, is it, write sober, edit drunk? …does that mean drunk time can still be productive? Some good writer friends of mine (who shall remain nameless) will be delighted to hear this.
Unconfirmed quote by Stephen King:
DON’T CARRY A NOTEBOOK AROUND—it’s a graveyard for bad ideas.
GO AHEAD AND WRITE IT. IT’LL ONLY TAKE A YEAR. This can only be advice from someone who has never done it.
PUT YOUR CLIMAX IN THE FIRST CHAPTER. Aristotle is rolling over in his grave. Well, maybe the advisor was speaking of 50 Shades.
WHEN IN DOUBT, CUT. The insecure writer will end up with a one-page novel. No, wait, a one-paragraph novel. No wait, a one-sentence novel. No, wait…
IF YOU’RE BORING YOURSELF, YOU’RE BORING YOUR READER.
This depends on where you are. Sixth round of editing? Or starting your novel with a “dark and stormy night?”
WRITING IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Right. How dare we try to craft words alongside the literary greats, and have the gall to call ourselves writers? Just do it in private and wash your hands. Someone once asked Stephen King why he wrote such terrifying scenes. His answer: “Do you think I have a choice?” And Kurt Vonnegut, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” Another good Halloween costume idea!
NEVER START A SENTENCE WITH A CONJUNCTION. See above.
YOU ONLY GET GOOD BY WORKING YOUR ASS OFF. With the proliferation of good writers in RMFW, we can showcase our deformities by forming a bizarre Halloween parade.
WHO AND WHOM CAN BE USED INTERCHANGEABLY. Do not, I repeat, do not approach Conan with this statement--unless your Halloween costume includes a sword!
Happy Halloween, my friends. May the terrors delight you!