Thursday, July 14, 2011

Advanced Writing Tips

I write, but don’t like to write about writing too much. There are plenty of folk who actually know what they’re talking about that have tons of good advice, some that have a touch of bad advice, and an assorted few that, if you were to do what they say, might ruin you.

I think I’m more like the latter of the three.

I’ve seen so many lists of things to be avoided I couldn’t possibly count them all – but then I read a bestseller and I see almost all those ‘don’ts’ done over and over again by folks like George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, Patrick Rothfuss - bestseller’s all - then it dawns on me; Those rules don’t really matter, well, they do, but not as much as we’d all like to think. I think I’ve figured out the big secret.

It’s all about the story. It trumps everything. Using cliché’d dialog can be annoying, characters that behave stupidly is infuriating. But of those three authors I mentioned above, all have moments that make me frustrated, in the case of Patrick Rothfuss, I find I roll my eyes a lot. But I keep reading. And so do lots of other folks. Why? Because they tell great stories.

But, I do read a lot of those helpful tips and have been collecting them mentally, trying to summarize the thousands of posts I’ve read over the course of my time on the internet, then I mixed them with my own personal wisdom and have finally summed them up into a few short do’s and don’ts.


Write something awesome


Write something awesome that contains adverbs. Adverbs cancel out awesome. It’s math. An exception can be made if you use awesome adverbs, but those are rare.

You can thank me later.

Well, who would have thunk? The math adds up, adverbs do suck


Rogue Mutt said...

Ha ha. I'm sure those authors you mention use plenty of adverbs. Mostly I hate adverbs in dialog tags. "He said sleepily" or whatever. It's kind of silly and really we should get it from the context of what he's saying. That or have him say it and then yawn or something. Seriously.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Working on canceling the adverbs - or as you like to call them, unnecessary modifiers.
And you know a lot about writing. Trust me!

Laila Knight said...

That both makes a lot of sense and I'm still confused. It's funny how all my English teachers raved about adverbs, and now they're considered bad in basic writing. When it comes down to it, it really is just about producing our best story. Great post! :)

Danette said...

If you are going to write about writing, then you picked the right way to write about it. Cheers!~db

Deborah Walker said...

Yes. This. I don't even bother about adverbs anymore.

mooderino said...

An interesting story is by far the most important thing when writing a book. Unfortunately that's the part they can't teach you in a how-to guide, so they concentrate on the other stuff.

Moody Writing

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Something awesome for you at my blog today!

Suze said...

I liked your post, Rusty. For a number of reasons. Best to you this day.

Kev D. said...

Adverbs pffff.. who needs them?

Andrew said...

I broke all of the rule down to 2 things, too:
1. Read a lot.
2. Write a lot.
Screw everything else. I don't have a problem with adverbs, either. Not that I use a lot of them, but I do spend time in my kids' classes at their school, and they are still teaching kids to use adverbs. And they should. The anti-adverb thing goes too far. Like anything, just don't over use them.

Andrew said...

Sometimes, I lose my grammar.
I broke all the -rules- down to two things.
I blame it on the children.

Michael Offutt said...

I agree with you and mutt.

Briane P said...

"Adverbs cancel out awesome" is my saying for the day. EXCELLENT use of math.

Misha said...

Hehehe I think that the rules are more guidelines. If you can justify bending them, by all means, do it. Just don't go crazy with it. ;-)

The Golden Eagle said...

If only writing something awesome was that easy. :P

I have to wonder about adverbs--I didn't use to notice them before I started reading blog posts about how bad they were, and I see them everywhere. I do think they can be effective, as long as they aren't in every sentence or something.

Pk Hrezo said...

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." Stephen King

You know when I first read Harry Potter I never noticed any of the adverbs. I was a reader then, not a writer who had polished her craft. A few months ago I read HP again as a study, and I cringed at the overuse of adverbs. Funny what you notice as a reader and as a writer.

But it just goes to show, what makes a great writer is someone who knows when it's okay to break the rules.