Bad Advice?

When it comes to writing, what does bad advice look like?

Surprisingly, it can look just like good advice. The trick is being able to tell the difference – and that also includes knowing when any given piece of advice is useful and when it is problematic. Below is an article on some classic advice and how it might not be useful, depending, we’d argue, on when you read it in your writing career.

For instance, it’s a common notion that a writer should only work on one piece at a time. Great way to finish a project, right?

However, just as many writers work on multiple projects to keep motivated and excited about their work. Novel one until you hit a wall, then a short story, then back to novel one, or novel two, and so on.

So which is it? Write one thing at a time, or switch between projects?

The answer really depends on the individual writer.

Litreactor – 10 Worst Pieces of Advice



How much can your verbs bench press?

You’ve heard the advice – make your verbs stronger.

Well, it is good advice. Unless you’re purposefully trying to make a character seem passive or downtrodden perhaps, you should aim for strong verbs, or certainly for variety in your verbs. Sometimes the simpler word will do – but not always.

Therese Stenzel has a useful list here. For example, take ‘sat.’ Sat could be switched for some of the words below, depending on the context. What kind of character is sitting? Where are they sitting?

Sat: eased into, settled, took, perch, plop down, relaxed into

For instance, an injured or elderly character might ‘ease into’ an armchair. By using ‘ease’ instead of sat, you’ve shown the reader something about that character. Your verb is working harder for you, its pulling its weight.

Now, some of the words on the list we’ve linked to might not always need changing. Further to this, ‘looked’ is an interesting one. Looked can impact on point of view, and act as a ‘filtering’ word. A  filtering word is something which may distance the reader from your character or action, which is not desirable.

But more on that topic next time!