Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Unpopular Writing Opinions!

Now, I know this is a little bit different than my usual blog posts. I typically approach my content as a teacher would, therefore, lists, how-to's, and definition-type posts are my usual go-to tools in my toolbox.

But today I wanted to talk about some unpopular opinions I have in terms of writing. No, I am not some uber-successful best seller with twenty yachts around the globe, but I thought I'd give my own two cents anyway. I keep hearing/reading the same writing advice over and over again that I wondered: Does anyone have any other opinions on these so called "golden rules" of writing? Maybe not, and I'm alone in my weirdness, but I have a sneaking feeling I am not. What are my unpopular opinions? Well...


1. Write every day

Raining? Write. Sunny? Write. You have the flu? Yep, you guessed it...write. But, I don't prescribe to this golden rule of writing. While I try to write *most* days, there are times when life gets in the way. When that happens, I try not to get upset I didn't get any writing done for the day. Therefore, no...you do not have to write everyday to be "serious" about writing.

The reason this little gem of advice has continued to sparkle in the mental eyes of writers is that essentially, this rule deals with creating routines.


Humans typically thrive on routines, and while there are certainly exceptions to the rule, full-time writers need routines to get their writing done. 


Why?


Because unlike people who write for fun or for leisure (and there is nothing wrong with that!), career writers need to treat their writing time as their working time because it is their actual job. So if writing every day works for your productivity, I say go for it. 


BUT...and this is a big but...if writing every day leaves you feeling burned out and resentful, I suggest finding a routine that works for you. Depending on your deadlines, obligations, and life outside of writing (because, believe it or not, there is life outside of our make-believe worlds) maybe writing for several hours for a few days a week is all you need to achieve your writing goals. Or maybe, just thirty minutes on Tuesdays when the kids are in bed is all you have to devote to your craft. 


Whatever it is that works for you, do it. Don't worry about not making your "word count" for the day if there is no impending deadline for you to do so. 


2. Kill adverbs

I very much enjoy adverbs. They are a spice in the English language that helps us to shape the lens in which we view the world. But, common writing advice adamantly advises writers to cut out adverbs---make them commit seppuku because there is no way any writer with honor would litter their manuscript with adverbs. 

I disagree. Unfortunately, it is an unpopular opinion. While I do believe excessive use of adverbs and adjectives clog up the shining prose underneath, such words shouldn't be feared if used properly. They can add depth and distinction to an otherwise vague passage, so as far as I'm concerned, I'll continue to use adverbs as I see fit. 



3. Show vs. Tell and the "Write it like a movie" syndrome


This is probably one of my most unpopular writing opinion (this and my love of dialogue tags other than "said"), but it's one that is becoming more and more important to me as time goes on. 

I can write a whole book on why I think the publishing industry as a whole has fallen into some very Western-centric ideologies in terms of what gets past the gate-keepers and into the hands of actual readers, but I'll leave that for another day.


Suffice it to say, with the expectancy of instant gratification woven into the very social fabric of today's industrialized and advanced nations, it is no surprise that such ideals are present within the writing industry as well. 


Query letters must "hook" agents right away or get thrown into the slush pile, mentors at writing workshops critique the first pages of a manuscript because it did not contain enough of a "punch" to keep the reader turning the pages, and critique partners lament on "slow pacing" if the plot is not "moving" as quickly as it should.


I do not want my novel read like a movie--I want it to read like a book. 

If everyone scrubbed their Work In Progress in the exact same way, all of the wonderful works of literature would begin to meld together like an uninteresting pair of beige socks.


And like Christopher Walken in a particular Kia commercial, I don't won't to go through life like beige socks.


So, you have purple prose?

I'd read that. 

Tolkien-esque description that's five pages long and talking about a tree?

Sure.

"Diverse"/"Interesting"/<insert adjective here> dialogue tags?


If the story and the characters grip me, you bet'cha.

To me, I much more prefer to read prose that reflects that author's voice than have their words cleansed and polished beyond recognition.


I have other unpopular writing opinions, but those are my top choices at the moment. I know not everyone shares my view on these things, and I am aware that disregarding popular writing techniques affects how an agent or publisher views my work. I may not be able to write whatever I want if I'd like to be traditionally published, but I thought I share these things with you as a fellow consumer of literature.


But sadly, publishing is a business, and there are rules to play in this game. And if I (or you, or anyone) wants to be traditionally published, we must abide by these rules the best we can in the hopes someone will grant us recognition.




Do you have any unpopular writing opinions? If so, what are they?


And don't forget to sign up for e-mail updates from my little corner of the blogsphere! --->

☆May your words be great and your pages many☆


2 comments:

  1. Great article! My pet peeves: "said/ask" limitations and, in addition to the adverb restrictions, I've recently heard some nay-saying over adjectives. My opinion: it's all B.S.

    Strunk & White created most of these rules, but English scholars are now demonstrating that most of their examples break the rules they've quoted. If they can't even follow their own rules, why should we?

    If all these strictures were followed, about half of the English dictionary would be off-limits. Why are there words we're not supposed to use? Any amount of cussing in modern lit is OK, but heaven help the author who uses an adverb!

    (OMG, did I say "recently"!??!)

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    1. Haha, nice reply! If I were following the "rules," I would have gasped in utter shock at the word recently. xD

      I didn't know it was Strunk and White who created those rules, but it's definitely good to know.

      Thanks for commenting!

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