Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writers Write About Writerly Advice

Aspiring writers face many hardships as they learn their craft and try to break into the business. One of them is the bad advice inflicted on them by all and sundry, from casual acquaintances to authors of "how-to" books and articles swathed in the mantle of Authority. Perhaps worst of all are the lists of meaningless "do"s and "don't"s that inhibit and confuse instead of help.

On his blog Earth and Other Unlikely Worlds Paul McAuley (a real writer, unlike most of those so free with their advice) points to two pieces in which writers respond to some of those classic commandments.

Charlie Jane Anders - whom you might remember as not only a contributor to the ever-useful web site io9, but the author of the short story "The Fermi Paradox is Our Business Model" (collected last year in Rich Horton's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011, a review of which you can find here, and available at - presents "10 Writing 'Rules' We Wish More Science Fiction Writers Would Break." (I particularly like her answers to numbers one and three – "No third-person omniscient," and "Avoid infodumps" – as I've long felt that infodumps get a bad rap, and that the preference for narrower viewpoints is often a matter of sheer snobbery.)

Meanwhile, at Nihilistic Kid's Journal, Nick Mamatas offers "Ten Bits of Advice Writers Should Stop Giving Aspiring Writers." (I especially like his succinct two-word response to the old truism, "Show Don't Tell.")

In the end, it all boils down to the fact that there's usually more than one way to succeed – just as there's always more than one way to fail.

No comments:

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon