Some Useful and Rather Unmild Advice


I read the article below and I was nodding and cringing at the same time. Nevertheless, I believe this post by author Russell Blake is a must-read for writers.

Personally, I'm a fan of having a character arc. Which guideline (aka rule) will you probably always follow?


Loree Huebner said…
Wow! I want to read that again...and chew on it.
Sandra Orchard said…
What a freeing article! Although I must admit that the rules like "limit adverbs" have instilled good habits in me, like always digging deeper for a stronger verb.
Terri Tiffany said…
Going to go read it!
Unknown said…
You know, I totally think it comes down to knowing when and how to break the rules. And possibly that's more gut instinct than anything else, but I'm not willing to toss out every rule I ever learned...nor do I wanted to be trapped by them. There's gotta be a sweet in-between. :)
Cindy R. Wilson said…
I limit adverbs and definitely believe showing not telling is good. But see, all those examples he gave of the exceptions are general market fiction. I DO read some Christian fiction that ignores the rules a little, but for the most part, there is a lot of rule following going on. And THOSE are the books I'm learning from, so I guess I'm a rule follower, too.
Loree, I feel like I'm chewing on it too. I was surprised and interested in what he said about wine. Never knew that!

Very true, Sandra. Knowing about rules does push us to make our writing stronger.

Agreed, Melissa! :-)

Cindy, wow, very interesting point about the difference in CBA and ABA. I think I'm going to ponder that a little too...
Erica Vetsch said…
That was...frank...and rang with truth. I just finished a novel by a Pulitzer-prize nominated author and my first thought was "If she'd entered the first 50 pages in a contest, she'd have finished dead last."

It was all telling, a brief overview of a famous person's childhood, that set up the rest of the story.

But it worked for that novel.
"I think one needs to know the rules, and then judiciously apply them, and chuck them if you feel the need." <--- That is GREAT advice from the article. The rules are well drilled into my head, and I often wonder if CBA is a little more rigid in requiring them in ABA, or if that's an illusion put out by the close-knit CBA community.
Linda Kage said…
Ooh, I liked the article! It gives me a bad writer, that maybe I'll be okay. As a reader, I prefer compelling stories over well-written stories too!
Erica, true! Sometimes we need that backstory, I think, esp. for certain genres.

Georgiana, the more I think on it, the more I think it's a CBA thing.

Linda, I loved your book I read! It was SO good.
Lindsay Harrel said…
Interesting article. I'm in the camp that says you have to know the rules before you can break them. You need to have a good reason for breaking them.
Patti said…
What a great article and it's so true. I recently read a best selling author who uses three adverbs in the first paragraph of the book and it's considered to be a well written book. Thanks for the link.
You're welcome! I thought it was an interesting article too.
Brandi Boddie said…
I gave a sigh of relief. It is a freeing article. For so long, there have been all of these rules upon rules of what you MUST do in order to be a published author, but we all can name at least 5 books we've read recently that didn't follow the advice of what we've been taught. I think the publishing world is changing. People are looking for stories to be entertained. I can think of few people that actually read what's deemed to be quality literature. I also think it's mostly a CBA thing.
Susanne Dietze said…
Interesting article--I'm glad you shared, Jessica! I limit adverbs, but sometimes, nothing else will do. I agree: know the rules and know when you need to tweak them a bit.
Brandi, I also see these rules talked out a lot by writers but not so much by editors...

Susanne, I forget to look for adverbs! LOL I probably should...
Hi Jess,

Ah, but try to get what he describes as a poorly written book past an agent or editor! With the number of writers out there, they want not only a compelling story, but also a well-written one.

As a reader, I may enjoy a story, but experience confusion that pulls me out of it. I don't think this is an either/or issue. We need both story and stellar writing.

Susan :)
That was an excellent article! Thanks for sharing it. I've heard other experts say the same kind of things. And you can really spot a novice writer who's trying too hard to keep all the rules--their writing sounds stilted and fake.

Happy Day,
WHOA!! I suddenly feel a little better about my own writing skills. I'm the family FUBAR when it comes to rules (grammatical or otherwise). This dude is right--owning the story and creating something tasty is far more important that making sure it's written "just so."
Stacy Henrie said…
Thanks for sharing this, Jessica! What a great article. I love how he says the most important thing is a well-told story, and what that is sort of up to us as authors.
Karen Lange said…
I will check it out. Thanks for the tip! :)
Sarah Forgrave said…
I've studied character arcs too much in the last two years to NOT implement them in a story, LOL. Thanks for sharing the link, Jessica!
Hahaaa, Sarah!

You're welcome, Karen. :-)

Me too, Stacy.

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