The Nature of Tips and Advice

Once in a while one of my fellow writers will speak as if he or she is the font of all knowledge. They will dole out bits of “wisdom” calling them tips. At the same time they will give the impression that these tips are rules that must be obeyed to write a good story. Needless to say, I don’t agree with that idea.

New and aspiring authors tend to fall into this trap. They will often quote from a book, teacher or another author as if they were preaching the gospel. There are no hard and fast rules for writing a good story. It’s all going to come down to your personal preferences and writing style. Some writers use outlines, others don’t. Some write in first person, many prefer third. The only rules when it comes to writing involve grammar and punctuation.

I’m not saying you should ignore writing tips. Take what you can from them but don’t assume it will work for you. For me, writing is all about self-discovery. As you put pen to paper (or type on your computer), you will learn a lot about how you write. You will find things that will work for you and a lot that won’t. If there is a rule for writing, it’s do what works for you and write a good / entertaining story.

When it comes to advice, things are a bit trickier. When you give advice, you should do it in such a way that isn’t condescending. No one likes being talked down to. It’s a good way to get someone to ignore you.

On the flip side when you get advice or constructive criticism, you should be thankful and consider what was said. Someone is going out of their way to help you. You don’t have to do what they say or even like what was said. You should just have an open mind about things especially if you asked for advice. For example, if you ask people for advice about improving your book sales and they suggest you need to work on your book’s cover, don’t assume the forty people are wrong and have no taste. Above all, resist the urge to rant and rage against them for giving advice that you asked for. You’ll only dig a very deep hole for yourself.

As with most things, your mileage may vary but mine has been pretty good. Okay, time for me to get off my soapbox. I hope to have some news about when Grave Digging is going to be released along with some other projects that have been delayed.

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