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Writing Advice: What Is It Good For?

2015 July 15
by Fay Lamb

Writing AdviceTo steal from a song, I’m going to say, “Writing Advice? What is it good for? Nothing. Absolutely Nothing.”

Besides that one sentence with the ending preposition, I feel better. Now, though, I must explain my exasperation and why that statement is untrue.

I call myself the Tactical Editor. The Tactical Editor offers advice on writing. I do pray that the advice has helped. Pray is really the important word in that sentence. My mission is to help authors who care about what they produce and to help them create the best work possible. There is some horrendous writing out there–in the CBA and in the ABA. Oh, but there are also books that I can discuss for hours because of the pure enjoyment in reading a well-shown story. I want authors to understand that what we do is art. I don’t want the type of art that we create to be the kind that people stand around and scratch their heads over and say, “Yeah, maybe I get it, but I’m really not sure.” I want the art of story to shine through so brightly that those peeking inside the pages say, “Now, this is a story.”

The troublesome land that authors find themselves in is called Subjectivity Island. We all live on one. What I feel is the best story I have ever read might be one that someone absolutely hates. We bring our preconceived notions and our life experiences to each novel we read–whether we are an editor, agent, or reader.

So, the question I asked is still valid (despite the prepositional ending). Writing Advice: What Is It Good For?

Sometimes I find it good for nothing; other times, I find another writer’s advice filled with treasures that I can mine and use to adorn my written canvas.

Regardless of what anyone says to you, there is a wrong way and a right way to write every element of story. For instance, stilted dialogue doesn’t fly in any novel. In fact, stilted dialogue allows the reader to know you’re feeding her information. Back story that stops a story cold (regardless of how many people do this incorrectly) is never the right way to introduce a character’s history. Telling words will always pull a reader from the story. Point of view (the deeper the better) always pulls a reader into the story. A story without conflict is never a story. A story with episodic conflict is always boring. Organic conflict is what keeps the reader turning the page because organic conflict is the fuel for plot. You can take that advice to the bank.

Those things never change.

Problematic advice for writers comes when someone advises that it doesn’t matter how you write. Readers don’t know the complexities of story. If they like it, what do they care how it is done?

While that advice is someone true, it really does underestimate the reader. You see, someone who picks up a book may not know how hard an author has worked to practice the elements of storytelling, but they will choose as the better story, the one in which the writer has taken the advice of those who have gone before and have honed the elements of storytelling into advice.

And that’s what advice is good for.

Books Collage

Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor)  is an author, editor, and writing coach, who loves to work with authors to help them meet their goals.

Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Art of Characterization Cover FINAL FRONT (2)Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes  A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelorand Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads. Anyone interested in learning more about Fay’s freelance editing and her coaching, should contact her at fay@faylamb.com

 

 

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