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Putting the fake advice to death

#3
Love Wendig. He's always so no-nonsense, no-bullshit. Those guidelines were actually really important for me to learn, when I first started taking my writing seriously--they improved my style dramatically--but yeah, people take them WAY too far. We're currently reading The Book Thief aloud as a family (even though we've read it before...it bears a second reading), and I had to laugh when I noted Zuzak had used four adverbs over the course of two sentences. He'd used them beautifully and with style, in that wonderful voice he gives the narrator, Death. It was sublime ... and it included four adverbs. I imagined him laughing in the face of his creative writing professor. ;)
 
#4
Love Wendig. He's always so no-nonsense, no-bullshit. Those guidelines were actually really important for me to learn, when I first started taking my writing seriously--they improved my style dramatically--but yeah, people take them WAY too far. We're currently reading The Book Thief aloud as a family (even though we've read it before...it bears a second reading), and I had to laugh when I noted Zuzak had used four adverbs over the course of two sentences. He'd used them beautifully and with style, in that wonderful voice he gives the narrator, Death. It was sublime ... and it included four adverbs. I imagined him laughing in the face of his creative writing professor. ;)

I agree. Garcia Marques uses adverbs in practically every sentence. If it fits your style, it fits. I love reading Wendig. Especially because he walks the talk.
 
#6
I couldn't agree with Chuck Wendig more...I've broken all of the so-called rules of writing he mentions. What annoys me about writing advice and the things that we're meant to do in editing our manuscripts, is that it feels like jumping through hoops held up by nitwit literary agent assistants, who couldn't do it themselves to save their lives.

Another no-no of writing, ending a sentence with a preposition, was explained on Atlas Obscura recently:

Where the 'No Ending a Sentence With a Preposition' Rule Comes From
 

Rich.

Guardian
Staff member
Patron
#7
Those guidelines were actually really important for me to learn, when I first started taking my writing seriously--they improved my style dramatically--but yeah, people take them WAY too far.
I agree, on both counts. I'm sure we've all been guilty at some point of mistaking guidelines for rules.

Garcia Marques uses adverbs in practically every sentence. If it fits your style, it fits. I love reading Wendig. Especially because he walks the talk.
Garcia Márquez is tricky to include here, I think, because he was writing in such a different literary tradition. Spanish language fiction is (traditionally, at least) very different to English – much more tolerance for intrusive narrators, for a start!
 
#8
How many novels now use sentences that are fragments, not actually sentences? Many? Most? And who cares. If the writing is good, the writer can do things their own way. That's why people will read them. To have that particular reading experience. The writing is good when the writer has a voice. They only have a voice if they have been a reader, and if they have learned their craft. You can always tell when they're not quite there yet. Not fermented. You can tell on the first page.

But a writer is always arriving. To arrive is to be 'a king in my own land. Raising tempests of dust, I'll fight on till the end. Creatures of my dreams, raise up and dance with me. Now and forever, I' m your king.'

(Cloud Atlas)

When criticized for occasionally ending a sentence on a preposition, Winston Churchill replied, "This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."

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#10
An interesting blog post but I think any new writer should be wary of taking the attitude that the rules of the craft don't apply to them.

Rules are there for a reason. They are probably better described as guidelines than rules but they are there to help make our writing clearer and better. The people who break and bend the rules are very skilled at what they do and they know how far they can push something to make it work and have maximum effect. They have spent a long time learning the craft, and writing is a craft, a skill that is honed through years of hard work.

It is only once you truly understand the rules that you can start to break them and push boundaries. But learn them and understand them first!
 
#14
I couldn't agree with Chuck Wendig more...I've broken all of the so-called rules of writing he mentions. What annoys me about writing advice and the things that we're meant to do in editing our manuscripts, is that it feels like jumping through hoops held up by nitwit literary agent assistants, who couldn't do it themselves to save their lives.

Another no-no of writing, ending a sentence with a preposition, was explained on Atlas Obscura recently:

Where the 'No Ending a Sentence With a Preposition' Rule Comes From
I knew he´d be your kind of guy. You should follow him on twitter.
 
#16
I agree, on both counts. I'm sure we've all been guilty at some point of mistaking guidelines for rules.


Garcia Márquez is tricky to include here, I think, because he was writing in such a different literary tradition. Spanish language fiction is (traditionally, at least) very different to English – much more tolerance for intrusive narrators, for a start!
I agree, but still--he´s been translated in just about every language known to man and is a Nobel prize winner. So there!
 
#17
How many novels now use sentences that are fragments, not actually sentences? Many? Most? And who cares. If the writing is good, the writer can do things their own way. That's why people will read them. To have that particular reading experience. The writing is good when the writer has a voice. They only have a voice if they have been a reader, and if they have learned their craft. You can always tell when they're not quite there yet. Not fermented. You can tell on the first page.

But a writer is always arriving. To arrive is to be 'a king in my own land. Raising tempests of dust, I'll fight on till the end. Creatures of my dreams, raise up and dance with me. Now and forever, I' m your king.'

(Cloud Atlas)

When criticized for occasionally ending a sentence on a preposition, Winston Churchill replied, "This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."

MORE

Why don´t we have hearts to give? I love this answer, Katie!
 
#21
The list made me smile although I suspect we all had to endure one or two of our own sacred cows being butchered in it.

For me it is about writing every day. I tend, with good reason, not to expound to much on the advice side of it all because I struggle with any and every aspect of 'our thing' as it is, but I can bore for England when it comes to what I see as the indisputable virtue of writing every day, especially for people who are starting out. Habits are good but habits have to be formed. The daily drudgery of having to force yourself to sit down and bang out x amount of words has no glamour but that is how you create that all important first draft.

Once you have that, then worry about your 'process' but for my money most people are to in love with the idea of 'having' written a book rather than the arse-numbing, finger blistering sheer bloody hard grind of the actual writing of the bloody things, in the here and now.

But, as I have said, I can be tedious on the subject. :)
 
#22
Chuck is selling his own brand of sarcastic wit, and selling his novels on the back of it, so I'd be as wary of his 'advice' as I would that of anyone else. He's building a platform for his own brand, and if he's sucking people in, then he's doing a good job. I don't know him or his background, but it sounds a little journalistic?

Though writing advice varies in its perspicacity, and there are an awful lot of 'experts' selling it these days, it is NOT FAKE.

I have analysed more dreadful novels over the years than I care to recall, and continue to do so on a daily basis. Editors know in the first chapter whether they want to read on, but more often they know in the first page whether the writer can actually write (yet). Of course you don't just write what you know, of course you need some prose between the dialogue, but the 'rules' are there for a reason. They're there to channel the learning process. Chuck is amusing and his advice is sound for those who have already gone down the long learning-road, but you have to understand the rules before you break them. Most beginners break all the rules by accident, which is why their books are so incredibly bad - and they don't see that (yet).

So, beginner writers, keep following the dissed advice till you understand it, then make your own choices.
When you can look back on your old work and wince with embarrassment that you actually sent it out, then listen to Chuck.
 
#23
Somerset Maughan came of a privileged background in a day when the lower classes, even if they had basic education, could not cross the boundary to a 'profession'. He could choose to be a writer rather than a lawyer. His 'class' had a traditional education that put grammar at the top of the list, along with math, probably drummed home with the help of a cane. He probably had books to read when most homes didn't have basic hygiene. His advice is not pertinent to today's new writers who often don't know what comprises a sentence, let alone all the other things that combine to build good fiction.
 

Carol Rose

Guardian
Staff member
Ambassador
#24
Chuck Wendig has a solid following and a reputation for strong, humorous delivery of key points when it comes to writing advice. But as @ChrisLewando correctly points out, the advice he picks apart in this blog post is not fake. And like @Kitty said, rules exist for a reason. Knowing when to bend or break them, and how, are the subtleties that most unseasoned writers don't yet understand. Or, choose not to understand.
 
#26
An interesting blog post but I think any new writer should be wary of taking the attitude that the rules of the craft don't apply to them.

Rules are there for a reason. They are probably better described as guidelines than rules but they are there to help make our writing clearer and better. The people who break and bend the rules are very skilled at what they do and they know how far they can push something to make it work and have maximum effect. They have spent a long time learning the craft, and writing is a craft, a skill that is honed through years of hard work.

It is only once you truly understand the rules that you can start to break them and push boundaries. But learn them and understand them first!

You can definitely tell the wallies who think they know better when they don't yet, and never will because they are only interested in their own voice and have a tin ear.
 
#27
Chuck is selling his own brand of sarcastic wit, and selling his novels on the back of it, so I'd be as wary of his 'advice' as I would that of anyone else. He's building a platform for his own brand, and if he's sucking people in, then he's doing a good job. I don't know him or his background, but it sounds a little journalistic?

Though writing advice varies in its perspicacity, and there are an awful lot of 'experts' selling it these days, it is NOT FAKE.

I have analysed more dreadful novels over the years than I care to recall, and continue to do so on a daily basis. Editors know in the first chapter whether they want to read on, but more often they know in the first page whether the writer can actually write (yet). Of course you don't just write what you know, of course you need some prose between the dialogue, but the 'rules' are there for a reason. They're there to channel the learning process. Chuck is amusing and his advice is sound for those who have already gone down the long learning-road, but you have to understand the rules before you break them. Most beginners break all the rules by accident, which is why their books are so incredibly bad - and they don't see that (yet).

So, beginner writers, keep following the dissed advice till you understand it, then make your own choices.
When you can look back on your old work and wince with embarrassment that you actually sent it out, then listen to Chuck.
I´ve been following his blog for many years now and have read a couple of his books, and I follow him on twitter. His blog is dedicated to his many followers who are mostly, people like us trying to become writers. Most of what he writes, he writes for those people in mind. And, as I said, he walks the talk. What he´s saying is--look, this is what i´ve done and i´ve gotten published.
It´s also important to mention that he started out as a self-publishing writer, so he does have a very hands on, not-listening to your crap kind of school because he´s been there. The point he´s trying to make is that there are no hard fast rules when it comes to art/writing/creativity. And the only way you'll know if you are any good is to just do what feels right. And stick to your guns. That´s how most published authors do it. Most best seller are rule breakers, and many have managed that on the first try. Voice is the most important element.

My question to you would be--how do you know when you are no longer a beginner?
 
#30
An interesting blog post but I think any new writer should be wary of taking the attitude that the rules of the craft don't apply to them.

Rules are there for a reason. They are probably better described as guidelines than rules but they are there to help make our writing clearer and better. The people who break and bend the rules are very skilled at what they do and they know how far they can push something to make it work and have maximum effect. They have spent a long time learning the craft, and writing is a craft, a skill that is honed through years of hard work.

It is only once you truly understand the rules that you can start to break them and push boundaries. But learn them and understand them first!
Well. I’m not so sure.

Except for that last sentence. I’m totally on board with your last sentence.

No... on second thought. I’m not completely on board.

After all, what is it to ‘truly’ understand the rules? This implies we need to understand each and every rule that some arbitrary authority on writing has made and insists we adhere to and my response to that is... seriously? Who are you?

Apparently you’re a rule maker.

I say learn some rules and break them as soon as you can get away with it.
 
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