Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Advice I Take With a Grain of Salt

This will be a fun topic for this month’s Read Around the Rainbow, suggested by the lovely Addison Albright! Before I start on what advice I have learned to politely ignore, on balance, I have to say that I’ve been given loads of wonderful writing advice that I happily take on board. I am especially thinking of poor long-suffering Ofelia Grand, my go-to when I inevitably get stuck in technological writing hell!

Also, I do have considerable experience in being on the receiving end when helpful pointers are rejected. During my years as a teacher and as an online story moderator, I’m always taken aback when people are deeply affronted about reminders to put stories into paragraphs. Or capitalising the first letter at the start of the sentence and then adding a full stop (or period) to end it, because apparently, that hampers their self-expression. Takes all sorts!

In terms of controversy, I will not dare to approach the Oxford comma (as that’s always baffled me), and I still don’t understand why popping the odd sentence in the passive voice is meant to be the source of all evil! As writers, we are bombarded with a bewildering array of hints and tips, not only in terms of grammar and style, but the whole gamut of marketing do’s and don’ts, some of which seem completely contradictory.

And the advice doesn’t stop there! The way we plan out our stories is a source of debate, with plotters and pantsers at the extreme ends of the argument. I have to say that I always assumed I’d be a dedicated plotter, as in ordinary life, I would be lost without steadily ticking off items on my daily to-do list.

So, with relish, I started outlining my plans in detail, making careful notes and organising my story to within an inch of its life. And what happened? Zip, nada, nothing. I soon realised that when it came to the actual writing, my mind went as blank as the page. And my muse went off in a huff and deserted me completely!

It was all a bit bewildering having to approach writing from the opposite direction than I expected (and that’s probably good for me!) I have learned not to panic when I don’t quite know where I’m going in a story (let alone have the plot and characters in a colour-coded planning document). Before going near my laptop, I allow the story to gradually percolate in my head and just keep a notebook handy to jot down the odd bit of dialogue or a random scene that I would forget otherwise.

I might get the odd twinge of panic at this alarming lack of method, but I’ve accepted, to my surprise, that I’m definitely on the panster end of the structure scale – whether I like it or not!

My post will be linked on the last Friday of every month with posts from fellow blog ring members. There are seven other writers blogging in the Read Around the Rainbow Webring this month… find their posts about the writing advice they’ve avoided!

A .L. Lester : Nell Iris : Ofelia Grand : Holly Day : Addison Albright : K.L. Noone : Amy Spector :

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