Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

Finding Writing Information

By Lazette Gifford
Copyright 2007 by Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved


If you spend any time studying how to write, you are bound to come up against a big problem.  There is a lot of information about how to write out on the internet and in books.  Unfortunately, much of it is contradictory.  It's hard to decide who is giving you the best advice.  So who should you listen to?

Everyone.

Listen to every bit of writing advice you can find, and be open to new ideas.  Accept the idea that some of it will not work for you, but realize it doesn't hurt for you to try something new now and then.  There are things that even people who are not published can teach you.

Listen to people who are writing what you like to read (especially the published authors of your favorite books), but listen to people in other genres as well.  Science fiction writers, for instance, can learn some nice tricks about pacing and relationships from the mystery and romance genres.

There are only two times you should be wary:

1.  Don't keep trying something when you have seriously tried what is being suggested and it doesn't work for you.  It doesn't matter who is telling you this bit of advice and how much you respect them or their work.

Be sure to examine the idea, test it out, and try different approaches before you really decide, though.  Even then, don't just discard a writing suggestion and never look at it again.  Sometimes odd things happen, and a change in lifestyle or even a new book idea can mean you'll benefit from something you didn't think would be helpful before.  As an example, let's look at outlining.  I hated outlines, and wouldn't work with one for... decades, actually.  Then I found it helped me through a couple difficult books.  Now I outline some work and not others.

Be open to the idea of trying different things, at least until you are certain they aren't working for you.

2.  Don't listen when a person starts treating suggestions as though they are the only way to do things.  This is true whether the person has come up with the idea or taken it from some other 'higher' authority.  Look at what the person is offering, but stop short of the 'my way or not at all' fixation.

Also, if people say they got the ideas from a different source, be certain you go to the original and see what it really says.  I've seen some oddly warped interpretations of my 2YN class material, especially when people focus on one little piece and forget that the class is a series of story growing exercises that build on each other.

 

Not everything will work for every writer, and the people who think they have the one answer, successful for them or not, can do more harm than good -- but only if you aren't willing to work at learning what is helpful specifically for you.

Read everything you can on writing.  Listen to everyone. 

But make your own decisions on what will work for you.  Don't let someone else make them for you.  They are not you.  They will not write the way you do.  They will not write the book that you will write, either.

Be open to exploration.  That's really what writing is all about, after all.