21 responses

  1. Rod Griffiths
    April 13, 2013

    To paraphrase Lincoln
    “You can help some of the people all of the time and you might even help all of the people some of the time, but you can’t help all of the people all of the time.”
    I still read your stuff because it sounds as if you have thought about it, and you don’t treat the reader like an idiot.

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 14, 2013

      Thank you, Rod. I try very hard not to make readers feel that way! You’re right—can’t please everyone in everything.

  2. ChemistKen
    April 13, 2013

    I think the biggest reason many people get worked up when they see certain writing advice is because of the many cases where other writers or agents have phrased that same advice as is if it was a hard and fast rule which can only rarely be broken.
    Read ChemistKen´s last article ..The Insecure Writer and Changes in the Publishing Industry

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 14, 2013

      Maybe they are each agent’s or editor’s hard-and-fast rule for them personally. Some hate first-person, present-tense POV and basically see it as a huge no-no. Some detest prologues. To them, perhaps these are rules. But to another agent/editor who works in another genre, these might be completely fine.

  3. Chris Cannon
    April 13, 2013

    I remember reading your article on filter words. It was a lightbulb moment for me and helped me understand Deep POV.

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 14, 2013

      Thank you, Chris! When I learned about filter words, it was a lightbulb moment for me, too!

  4. Margaret
    April 13, 2013

    I’ve always enjoyed your articles. It is my choice whether I take your advice or dismiss it. That being said – I have discovered that the problem with the Internet is, it has convinced everyone that the world is entitled to our opinion.
    There should be a button that asks us twice “are you SURE you want to post this?” ESPECIALLY in the comments area. ;D

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 14, 2013

      Ha ha, yes. Everyone IS entitled to his or her opinion, but maybe some people feel that any sort of advice is a personal attack on their own work.

  5. Debra Eve
    April 14, 2013

    I remember that post, Suzannah, and I thought it completely enlightening! I’m finding more and more it’s about listening to my intuition and doing what works for me. On point, I just read an essay by Joseph Epstein on George Elliot. He comments on how much “telling” as opposed to “showing” she does: “Tell all you want…so long as you remember to do it brilliantly.”
    Read Debra Eve´s last article ..Carl Gordon Acts on Divine Calling

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 14, 2013

      Intuition is huge. If every writer always followed all of the rules, we’d have a very limited variety of reading, wouldn’t we? I agree that some advice is great advice, but not always great advice for every single story. Some stories need to be more shown, and some more told. Thanks, Debra!

  6. Benison O’Reilly
    April 14, 2013

    Great article, Suzannah. I always consider writing advice in terms of guidelines, not rules. I’m sure Stephen King advises in ‘On Writing’ advises to never use adverbs but then admits he still does! I must re-read your filter word article now.
    Read Benison O’Reilly´s last article ..The youngest of my boys, Joe…

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 18, 2013

      Thanks, Benison! You’re right—’guidelines’ not ‘rules’.

  7. florence fois
    April 16, 2013

    Suzannah, it’s been a while since I’ve left a comment. However, this compels me to speak to you directly and not just read the post and leave. All rules are for a reason … all rules are meant to be broken ??? which is which??? Oh, who knows.

    If there is an answer it is simply that some of the greatest books ever written, that are still being written … break or ignore the rules. Even if we discount all classic literature. Okay, take away ALL literature and speak only of genre fiction. Best sellers start with dialogue, have long rambling prose, cut away for chapters of back story and a few have done it with first person, present tense :)

    What the reader really wants is a good story and how we get there is as individual as we are. If young or newbie writers concentrate too much on process they can kill their voice before the first note hits the air.

    BTW … missed you :)

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 18, 2013

      Missed you, too, Florence! Great to see you here again. I agree that new writers concentrate far too much on writing advice. They so desire to be published that they forget to spend time learning to be creative and develop their craft.

  8. Christi Craig
    April 17, 2013

    Such a great post, Suzannah. I love the questions to ask ourselves when considering advice, especially this one: When I read my favourite books or stories, can I see the advice in action?

    Following Florence’s comment, I think it’s important to understand the advice, even the rules of writing, so that we can recognize when successful authors break those rule (because they do sometimes) and why (why certain rogue techniques work better in a story versus the “norm”). Better yet, so we can know when breaking those rules or ignoring the advice pushes our own writing to a better place.
    Read Christi Craig´s last article ..Q&A (and Giveaway!) with Randy Susan Meyers

    • Suzannah Windsor Freeman
      April 18, 2013

      Thanks so much, Christi :) There are so many factors that go into what works best for a particular piece of writing. Definitely, it’s important to understand the advice to know when and why you can break them. Same with rules of grammar.

  9. Stephanie Scott
    April 19, 2013

    This is the BEST writing advice I’ve ever heard! ;)

    Truly, though, all advice writing or not needs to be weighed. I have taken some snippets of writing advice to the extreme and realized the voice of my character was sapped because I was so fixated on eliminating passive voice (and not fully understanding what that meant at the time) and filler words. I think it takes time to build up that knowledge and add to it piece by piece.

    I read a writing book that said never ever use a flashback in the first 50 pages. then I took a writing class that showed how small flashbacks can be effective if used the right way. To me, I take this conflicting info to say, do not rely on flashbacks to tell your story, but use only when necessary to advance the plot or show something new about your character. And then, maybe delay that a few chapters in to keep the story moving. Still, those conflicting ideas drove me crazy for awhile!
    Read Stephanie Scott´s last article ..Blogging A to Z: P is for Susan Elizabeth Phillips

  10. Jennifer Frost
    October 31, 2013

    My answer is: Read more books! Ask any good writer for tips on how to become a better writer and they will tell you to read more. Read more books by great writers, read more articles by great journalists, and read more industry literature from respected writers in the field. Take note of how great writers take a complicated subject matter and make it understandable for the average visitor of your blog.
    ~Jenn
    Read Jennifer Frost´s last article ..How to Write a Descriptive Essay

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