Depending on how long you’ve been following me, you’d know that when I was experimenting with YouTube, I made a video titled “Clashing Writing Advice.” I thought that now that I’ve grown with my writing and researching skills, and the video has since been taken down, I can revisit it! In this post, I’m going to be going over some of the most common writing advice, how they clash, and my opinion on them.
1. Write what you know vs. Get out of your comfort zone.
I think this one is pretty self explanatory- If you only ever write what you know, how are you supposed to get out of your comfort zone? I think a nice balance between these two should work well. You should pretty much always be writing what you know, but that doesn’t mean you need to only write what you know. When you get an idea, roll with it. Unfamiliar concepts are bound to pop up. This is when you segue into the researching phase.
2. Avoid jargon and specific phrases vs. Be realistic
Clearly you want to be realistic. Even when you’re writing a to-the-core fantasy novel complete with sparkling unicorns and neon pink skies, there are certain things you just want to write realistically. When someone’s telling you to avoid slang, they’re generally worried about the reader feeling out of place or even confused, but in my opinion, it’s inevitable. Readers are going to be confused for a second or two. But more often than not, they’ll catch on, and recognize it as just another unique and realistic part of your novel.
3. Write every day vs. Live
To write every day and live life at the same time is basically impossible. There are days where you have obligations and simply do not have time for pumping out words. Sometimes you’re just fucking tired.
I’m pretty outspoken about my opinion on writing every day. To keep things brief, it’s bullshit. I’m completely on board with the “live” rule. How are you supposed to write if you haven’t experienced anything? Sure, you have that imaginative brain of yours, but you can only understand so much by being a hermit. So much about writing is empathy. You need to go out, meet people, experience emotions and moments and memories. Think about any book you’ve ever read that you completely synced with- Do you think it was written that way by the writer holing up in their room all day, every day, every night, pounding out words? No.
4. Breaking the rules vs. “Ten Writing Rules” posts
Obviously they’re not always exactly ten, but you get the point. Some douche compiles a list of their favourite carbon copied, no-wiggle-room, cryptic phrases and throws them onto a blog post. And somehow they never forget to tag on “Break the rules!” at the bottom. As if that isn’t mind fuckingly confusing.
Here’s the thing: You don’t need to follow any rules. There are about a million exceptions for every single rule. I specifically like what Ava Jae said in her “On Breaking Writing Rules” video. You should look into the purposes of writing rules. For example, the rule “Never start a book with a character waking up.” The purpose of this rule is because often times when a writer starts their book with their character waking up, it’s not the actual start of their story. It brings the reader through a bunch of meaningless narrative until they finally reach the inciting incident. However, Ava broke this rule in her debut novel, and kept the purpose of the rule in mind as she did it to keep it from being a problem.
5. Set the scene vs. Cut all adverbs
I’d just like to first start out by saying I’m extremely against the “cut all adverbs” rule. I think it’s really extreme and even a little bit obnoxious. You should cut out adverbs that can be replaced with a powerful verb, but when describing a scene, you’re going to want those adverbs- Coupled with some carefully placed nouns.
So that’s all I’ve got for today! If there’s anything you take from this post at all, I hope that it’s to always make your own opinions about things. You are perfectly capable to look into things and decide whether you think a certain way or not. Even if you disagree with everything I’ve said thus far, believe that you will do your best simply by having your own thoughts and opinions.
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