Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RTW - Best Writing Advice

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Most of this advice has been said a hundred times before and will be send a hundred times again. But that's because it's the best advice anyone can think to give.

Read. A lot.
Read every genre under the sun. If you think you don't like something, try it. If you don't like it, then it's not for you. For example, I don't like Stephen King. I acknowledge that he's an amazing writer and a lot of people love his work. I read half of Misery and decided it wasn't for me. But at least I tried it.

Concentrate on being well-read in your genre. Read what's popular, read what's hated, read what no one's ever heard about. Learn what works and what doesn't work. If you love a book, think about why. If you don't want to publicly review books, consider creating a private journal where you record each book you read and what you thought of it.

Read non-fiction. You never know what might spark a new story or what piece of information could be incorporated into your next book.

Just write
I know this advice doesn't work for everyone, but I wanted to say it anyway. Remember: if you never finish writing the book, it will NEVER go anywhere. No matter how many times you rewrite and polish and rewrite the first chapter, if you never get past the first chapter, no one will ever read it.

What Works for Someone Will Not Work for Everyone
There is no cut and dry way to write. One person needs complete silence, one person needs noise. One person writes best outside, another writes best inside. Outlines or no. Revise as you go or no. Start from the beginning or start somewhere else. Everyone is different and it's the same with writing. So read the advice from everyone, and then take it all with a grain of salt. Try everything, but only continue to do what works.

Don't Write to Sell
I'm still trying to get this lesson through to my mom and it's not working. What's popular now might not be popular in two or three years when your book would come out. All you can do is write what you want to write and then hope that you get the chance to share it.

This last one doesn't really have to do with writing exactly, but it is a part of the process.

Queries are Meant to Get Someone to Read More of Your Book
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. I think it was Hannah Moskowitz that got this lesson through my thick skull last week. And then it hit me. She's right. Yeah, queries are supposed to summarize the book, sure. But what they're really meant to do is get the agent to read more. You don't have to summarize the entire book. You have to give the details that would make the agent want to read more.


Kate Hart said...

"What Works for Someone Will Not Work for Everyone"

Yes. This.

Jess said...

Agreed!! I once read a list of writing "rules" written by well established authors and it made me very sad in my heart. I broke 90% of the rules they listed, and it made me feel like I was a complete loser who would never get anything published.

But then my favorite author commented on the same list of rules and basically called it a bunch of bologna. She said she doesn't follow any of them, either, and she's a multi-bestseller!

Great post!

YA Highway said...

Thanks for participating, Rachael! Your wips sound very cool, too :)