Last week, I shared this post on Facebook via BookBaby, called, Elmore Lenonard’s 10 Rules for Writing. It was an homage to the author who had passed away this past summer. However, the funny thing about Mr. Lenonard is that he broke all his “rules” which, I thought was a little hypocritical.
Anyway, my friend Dellani Oakes, reminded me of Stephen King’s mantra, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Now, any Stephen King fan can tell you that Mr. King has used his share of adverbs. So what was the point in telling people to do things he’s not doing? Are these authors trying to sabotage us?
I’ve realized long ago, there are many methods authors can approach the craft, so there are no definitive set of rules. How can there be? Most grammarians can’t agree on what the rules are. Do we use the Oxford or the AP comma? They’re both considered correct, which is beyond confusing.
There are Even Rules About What You Can Write
As if that weren’t enough, every genre has its own criteria, not to mention lists of unwritten rules. For example, in the romance genre, infidelity is considered a huge no, no, especially, when a character is married. In fact, I’ve read multiple discussions and online rants where people slammed an author who handled the subject wrong. I guess there’s a right and a wrong way to cheat on your spouse. Who knew?
Today, I decided to have some fun and compiled some of the worst advice given to writers by other writers.
The Five Worst Pieces of Writing Advice
Write drunk, edit sober. ~Ernest Hemingway
Have you ever been drunk? Like most drunks, you probably just ended up calling your ex, or tripping over your own feet.
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury
Again, with the drinking!
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ~Neil Gaiman
Just try that one with your editor.
“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” ~W. Somerset Maugham
I’m sure Dan Brown, E.L. James and Stephenie Myer would agree. 😉
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. ~Dorothy Parker
*Disclaimer: The comments expressed by Dorothy Parker are exclusively those of Ms. Parker and not those of Rachel Rueben. Writing by the Seat of My Pants does not endorse violence of any kind towards aspiring (newbie) authors.