What is this?
For a couple of years now, I've been threatening one of my writing groups to write blog posts about writing advice and feedback. I get a little cranky on these topics. They say, "Do it!" and then I never do.
That is about to change. More than a month ago, I was reading through multiple online writing groups and social media, and statements were made that were both in the good advice and bad advice range of my Writer Advice barometer. I may have written some responses, and may or may not have actually hit enter on sending them.
This will be a monthly, posted on the second Monday, blog post about Writer Advice and Feedback based around one or two or a slew of Writing Advice or Standard (or non-standard) Feedback and consists of advice within. Because it's not really feasible to comment upon advice without giving some of your own.
Because I made this plan more than a month before the first post, it means I wrote a bunch of these in advance based upon advice or feedback I've been ruminating on for years. Or it could be on advice or feedback I literally just received and wrote about - months before actually posting.
I could probably write a whole book on this, and twelve blog posts seems a reasonable start.
Who am I to give advice?
Unless something dramatically changes by January 9, 2023 (and it could), I am a published author with two pro-rate published pieces of flash, a third token-rate piece of flash, and one self-published short story on my blog/website. (Oh, and whatever flash and excerpts readers of my newsletter get.) I've also queried and trunked one novel in the hellscape of 2021-22 querying.
I am not a big name. Which makes me an excellent source for the first piece of advice I'm going to give.
What I have is advice and feedback I received in the 1990s when I was trying to write and publish back then, advice I've recieved throughout the years since then, and actively sought out advice and feedback in the past three years after writing ~350,000 words in a 4-6 month period that eventually split into short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels, plus all the words I've written in the years since that outpouring. And I know what it's like when you're first trying to figure out Things About Your Writing and What Advice to Follow.
My posts will be aimed for newer writers, those who are searching for answers more than for established writers who already know all of this stuff. But maybe there'll be a few gems for those who have been writing for a bit.
I'll give you this for free
Take all writing advice and feedback with a grain of salt. Seriously.
This is why I'm the perfect person to give this advice. Because I'm not some big name and readers will tend to take my advice with a grain of salt. But when writers seek the advice of Big Names then the advice becomes Laws That Must Be Followed. All advice is given within context. But it's often relayed stripped of the context in which it was given. All people giving advice have who they are and where they come from to take into account.
Everyone has a motivation for giving advice and feedback. Some people are kind, caring people who want to help other writers. Some actively want to shut other writers down. Some are angry. (Most of this advice will come from an angry place for me. Just so you know.) It's kind of important to figure out why someone is giving their advice. Have they sold millions of copies of fiction and are constantly asked for advice so they wrote a book about it? Are they on their publication journey and have a few nuggets to share to help along those behind them on the same path? Are they someone who, whether consciously or subconsciously, wants to pull the ladder up behind them because they believe Publishing is a finite pie with only crumbs left?
Everyone has credentials for giving advice and feedback. I literally just listed mine above. Is the person giving their advice a writer or editor? What have they written and edited? When did they publish or edit? How accepted are the stories they published or edited? People who are bestsellers in the 1990s and people who are bestsellers in the 2020s probably actually have slightly different advice. Because markets change. Following older advice may improve your craft or storytelling, but it may not get you published today.
Okay, all my advice is free.
As you read through my picking apart or trumpeting the awesomeness of pieces of advice, consider what your goals are as a writer and what your goals are with advice and feedback.
Writers tend to give advice about Writing and Publishing assuming your goals are the same as their goals. I have definitely received advice that was not meant for me given as though it were personal. Because it was the advice that writer needed to hear when they were at the stage they thought I was. And maybe they misassessed my stage. Or maybe that advice just wasn't meant for me even if the stage assessment was appropriate.
Of course, I'm taking Generic Advice and giving Generic Advice. Some if it will be given as stage specific and I already suggested who might find my monthly posts on this topic helpful.
Enjoy the ride!
There you go, two pieces of advice already given with a little bit of shade thrown at all advice on writing. Stay tuned next month for more.
Writer of spec fic.