Writing Question: Advice

Hi SE, Readers. Joan here with you today. It’s time for another writing question and this month I have the honors.

It seems there is always someone willing to give their opinion on just about any subject. Writing is no exception. Sometimes what we hear is unsolicited, while other times we might seek the wisdom of others.

Often the advice we receive is good, but other times it is terrible. Whether or not we have sought counsel, we have to decide what (if anything) we’ll do with it.

I, for one, have received both good and bad advice in regards to writing. You probably have also. But for today, let’s think positive. Here goes:

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received and how did it help your writing career?

Okay, that’s really two questions but indulge me.  I’m willing to bet we can all share something that will benefit one another.


31 thoughts on “Writing Question: Advice

  1. Pingback: Back in the Groove and the Week in Review – Joan Hall

  2. Such a great question, Joan! I’ve had a lot of good advice over the years, some bad mixed in, too. If I had to pick just one thing that has benefitted me the most, I would say that is to “work with a critique partner” (or two). I’ve experienced my best growth as a writer when working one on one with one or two CPs. If you can’t hook up with a CP, then definitely join a writing group. I think we learn best from our peers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I took a class from Elmore Leonard and his advice was if a sentence or scene sounded like writing, get rid of it. He was particularly aiming his comments at writers who fill sentences with metaphors, similes, and descriptions that didn’t make sense and were there only to demonstrate the creativity or vocabulary of the author. (The sunrise exploded behind him like a cherry bomb going off in an orange dyed tomato aspect at the church picnic.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The best writing advice I got was “Hire a professional editor.” 🙂 The worst writing experience I had was hiring a so-called professional editor, paying good money and getting a crap job. 🙂 You asked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Jan. I’m so sorry that happened to you. In my early writing years, I was so eager to have something published, I agreed to contribute to a Christmas anthology. The editor was a “want to be writer” and he butchered my story. I won’t promote the book on my site or tell anyone the name of the book.

      But, hiring a professional editor (a good one) is great advice.


  5. “Write memorable characters.” I thought this was odd advice (given by a presenter at the first mystery writers conference I attended). I had assumed that mysteries wee more about the whodunnit than the who. But he went on to say that weeks after a reader has finished a book they enjoyed, they won’t remember much about the plot, but they will remember the characters. This cheered me greatly because I was polishing my first book at the time, and struggling with pacing. One editor had even told me that I had too much character development and that’s why it dragged in places. But I really liked my characters and I wanted to write in a character-driven style. That advice told me I was on the right track, I just needed to learn to write tighter. Um, still struggling with that 21 books later!

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is great advice, Kassandra! And Iearned how memorable my characters were when during a discussion with my editor about my debut mystery she said she couldn’t stop thinking about my main characters. Maybe she says that to all her writers, but it made me feel like I had accomplished a tenets of writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Geez, this is a hard one. I’ve received a lot of good advice over the years. And some not-so-good advice. If I had to pick one nugget of wisdom, I’d say it’s to nail the opening. If you win the cover and blurb wars and actually get someone to take a peek at your first page, you better be able to draw them in, or you’ll lose them. (That’s probably why I’ve rewritten openings more than any other part of any of my work.)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. “Write the book you would want to read next.” I try to live by that one. Initially, there was a lot of hand wringing about what readers might accept. Time is so valuable that wasting it on something nobody will read is frightening. Turns out, not too many people read our stories anyway. By writing what entertains me, I am more productive and happier overall. It shows in the finished product, and those who take a chance seem to enjoy my tales.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The advice that I received was to spend some time away from my draft so that I could then look upon my writing with new eyes. It made a world of difference because I was able to see errors that I had overlooked before, and I was able to find ways to strengthen my characters and my plot. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Mine was about self-confidence, which led me back to writing. From being a small child, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Eventually, disinterest and outright ridicule stopped me completely. It was advice regarding my self-belief that got me back on the writing track at age forty. Better late than never!! Thanks for a thought-provoking question, Joan 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Naysayers can devastate us. I have a good friend who switched her college major because of a teacher who said she couldn’t write. Not only that, she ridiculed her in front of the class. I’m sure my friend would have loved to wave a copy of her first publication in that teacher’s face. Glad you found your way back, Harmony!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. ‘I think you should try writing a novel.’ Our tutor at writing group. I was happily writing short stories and thought a novel required a Big Idea. My daughter and husband suggested two totally different ideas and they became two very different novels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s great! A couple of people once said to me, “You should write a book.” Neither of them knew I had always dreamed of becoming a writer. Beginning with short stories is a good idea. Glad you took the advice and branched out.

      Liked by 2 people

We'd love to know what you think. Comment below.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s