Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG Top 3 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice

It's the first Wednesday of the month! Time for author, Alex J. Cavanaugh's brain child, The Insecure Writer's Support Group to get together and help each other out. To sign up click here -

Kickin it down Pirate Alley in New Orleans.

I just got back from New Orleans ya'll! I went to the Faulkner House bookstore where William Faulkner wrote his very first novel, A Soldier's Pay. On the assumption that the house must be a conduit of creative genius, I attempted to soak up as much as I could before I was asked to leave. Just kidding. The booksellers were very nice.
In this very room, William Faulkner wrote his first novel.

Look how serious my face is. What a nerd!

After discussing it with other writers, I narrowed down what I think are the worst pieces writing advice I've been given over the years.

Here are my 3 worst pieces of writing advice ever -

1. "Show don't tell"
I give an example of how I break this rule in my excerpt below. When dialogue just isn't enough, exposition can be artfully done. There's a way to keep it conversational. Just sayin'.

2. Only one point of view per manuscript.
What the hell? Why? Why do so many workshops insist on this? To say F. Scott Fitzgerald ruined your suspension of disbelief in The Great Gatsby is mind boggling to me. Look at Virginia Wolfe's Mrs. Dalloway. Parallel plot lines. Hello.

3. Don't worry about your title.
Some editors argue that the title is the most important part of your query letter and oral pitch. A bad title can ensure you never get that foot in the door. A bad title cloaks a good book in failure. 

On to my insecurity. It's officially been a month now. I've read through my completed 60,000 word manuscript four times. I need to hit the send button to my cohort and professors. 

When do you know your projects are ready for review? Please let me know in the comments below!

I've posted another teaser of my book. If you're not into exotic dancer mystery novels please skip down to the comments below. 

Happy summer everyone!

Below is the first chapter of North Beach. It begins after two preludes from two different perspectives. Not only do I break the one perspective per manuscript rule, I totally break the "show don't tell rule". Yeah, I broke that b*tch! The rest of the book is fast action dialogue, including the preludes.

*Because all blog work is considered "published", I had to delete the excerpt that was below.*


  1. I hate the "show don't tell" rule. With that said, I still show as much as possible, but I once wrote a blog post called "Show AND Tell" because you can't show everything. Sometimes telling is better. A good story has a balance between the two.

    Only one POV per manuscript. Well, gosh then Seismic Crimes is wrong. ;) While I mostly write in one POV, I have written stories with two. Two POV's can make a story richer.

    The title doesn't matter. Really? The title is SO important!

    Those really are the worst pieces of writing advice.

  2. Excellent illustration where Show Don't Tell would be simply dumb. I've written several posts about breaking this rule, did one for IWSG last month. And yet, I still hear from writers who find my idea misguided. LOL. Rules need to be understood, yes! But sticking to them when it's so wrong is just ... dumb. You don't look like a nerd!

    1. Thanks Joylene;) I'm all about what you just said. Breaking the rules before knowing them is like calling yourself and abstract visual artist before learning still life. We need rules to communicate, but there's a limit. I'm sure a few writers view me as misguided also. Le sigh

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  4. Wonderful writing Adrienne! I've never read "exotic dancer mystery novels" but this looks interesting and unique!

    1. I'm glad my SIL is going to be interested in my new stuff!

  5. I agree that there are times when you need to tell over show. After all, there are times rules need to be broken. ;)

  6. Only one point of view? I did that with my last book, but my other three had two and three point of views. I wonder if that rule also implies it should be first person? I'm just not comfortable with first person and could never write it.

  7. First person is hard. I wrote the first two preludes in third person omniscient POV. Each prelude are two different POV. The rest is first person from the protagonists POV starting from chapter one. Because North Beach as a mystery is a thinly veiled social critique with the outer ring of the novel being a philosophical inquiry with how Schopenhauer defines 'representation', it just couldn't be executed any other way. It's the most ambitious project I've ever attempted for sure.

  8. I always have more than one POV because I think it builds intrigue to switch to what someone else is doing or thinking alongside the MC's action. Your excerpt was good, I liked the "telling" background! I wish the third rule was good advice though, because titles are probably what I struggle with most. I'm aware of how important they are though.

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