Yesterday, I came across this post: The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear (And Probably Already Have). It breaks down some of the tired maxims thrown at every budding writing and explains why, while they might work sometimes, they don’t work all the time. It’s so true — While there may be tons of resources online for writers, not all of these tips, tricks, and tools bear the … ripest, tastiest of fruit. Meaning —
I’ve read some doozies out there. Advice that’s misguided at best, flat-out wrong at worst; tips that are outdated; suggestions for improvement that would actually make the piece about 1000 times worse. So, today I pose a question: What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
The worst advice I’ve ever seen on a blog post was about writing detailed sentences. The post said something like: “To write ‘She knocked on the door’ is boring and unimaginative. Instead, write: ‘She rapped her knuckles on the worn oaken door.'”
I … no. I don’t agree with this. Sometimes, if a character needs to open a door, just let them open the door. It moves the scene along quickly and avoids the pratfall of purple prose, which — if you’re rapping your knuckles against anything oaken, you’re already in severe danger. Violet Beauregard going violet danger.
The other advice I received that I couldn’t help but shake my head at was given to me by my dad. He told me that I should include my character’s specific height, weight, hair color, and detailed physical characteristics in the first paragraph of the story. My reaction:
I firmly believe such details should come organically, dropped into the story when they’re relevant. Sure, you want to give your readers an idea very early on of what a character looks like, but you rarely need to tell them the exact poundage this guy is carrying or that girl’s height down to the last inch!! It’s rare that omission will stop the story from progressing, and it’s absurd to think it needs to be in the very first paragraph. (tbh, no offense, father.)
Those are the worst I can think of, so now I turn it over to you: dear writers and book bloggers, what’s the most confusing, misguided, blatantly terrible advice you’ve come across??