Archive for April 1st, 2009

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by Carrie Vaughn
A Note of Deep Personal Importance

Or not.

Happy April Fool’s Day!  The obvious thing for me to do would be to post a bunch of really bad writing advice.  Unfortunately, lots of sites already do that, every day, and pass it off as the real thing.  Like lying on your cover letter.  Dude, just don’t.

This LA Times blog article shares some gems of bad writing advice:

  • Remove all your commas. Editors don’t like commas and they pull the reader out of the story.
  • The first page of your novel MUST include the protagonist’s sex, age, physical description and location. Preferably, this is all revealed in the first paragraph.
  • Worst advice: Your character should experience only one emotion per scene.
  • Narrative is what makes a good story.  Get rid of all the dialogue.

Gawd, that’s awesome.

I could write a parody article.  But this industry offers so many opportunities to make fun of itself, it’s hardly worth the effort for me to try.  Especially when so many people are already doing it better than I could.  The Onion, God bless ’em, conducts much mockery on our behalf.  My favorites stories are probably “Author Wishes She Hadn’t Blown Personal Tragedy On First Book” and “Author Too Much Of A Pussy To Kill Off Characters.” Thank goodness I’ve never had that problem.  Killing off characters is so much fun!

Slate tells us how to write a fake memoir without getting caught.  Those of us on Genreality have solved that problem by writing, you know, FICTION.

And everybody’s heard about the Atlanta Nights sting operation from a few years back right?  This wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke, but it could have been.  A group of science fiction and fantasy authors got together to purposefully write the worst novel ever:  Atlanta Nights, by Travis Tea.  And then PublishAmerica accepted it.

I’m going to end with some good writing advice.  Good, and snarky.  You know, the kind of advice that makes you think, “Um, yeah, I might have done that a couple of times and I probably shouldn’t.”  It’s John Scalzi’s Even More Long-Winded (But Practical) Writing Advice, and it’s one of my favorite writing advice articles.  Here’s the summary:

  1. Yes, You’re a Great Writer. So What.
  2. I Don’t Care If You’re a Better Writer Than Me.
  3. There is Always Someone Less Talented Than You Making More Money As a Writer.
  4. Your Opinion About Other Writers (And Their Writing) Means Nothing.
  5. You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop, You Know.
  6. Until You’re Published, You’re Just in the Peanut Gallery.
  7. Did I Mention Life’s Not Fair?
  8. Don’t Be An Ass.
  9. You Will Look Stupid If You’re Jealous.
  10. Life is Long.

I’ve known a couple of writers who’ve been offended by the attitude here. For my part, I’m not sure how anyone survives in publishing without a very healthy sense of humor.  Now, go forth, laugh at yourself and this crazy business, and have a wonderful day.