With such a maze out there, we can never tell what we should or should not do until we attract someone’s wrath. I’m here to give you a few tips to navigate this maze with the least amount of stress.
- You see what worked for that author? Don’t expect it to automatically work for you. This goes for writing, editing, promoting, and everything. Just a guidelines fits the story of a guy whose blog you follow, doesn’t mean it’s exactly what your story needs. So, don’t alter your only copy to try it out and then find that it makes your work feel unnatural to you.
- Just because a person is quoting a ‘rule’, doesn’t mean they actually know what they’re talking about. Some of them picked it up in a seminar or reading a tip book without actually putting it into practice. They quote it like scripture, but then start talking about how they plan to use it in their own story . . . once they get around to writing it because it’s still in the planning stage. So, consider the source of the criticism and their own experience before you take things personally.
- As soon as the person says ‘Stephen King’, brace yourself for #2. It might not go that way, but that tip book I mentioned tends to be his.
- If an author comes to you with ‘rules’ and they are polite about it then it’s a good time to listen. Presentation is everything and the effort put into being gentle with the advice is a sign of two things. One is that they care about helping you instead of regaling you with their own knowledge. The other is they have put some real thought into how their experience can relate to your story. It still might not work, but this means you can have a conversation.
- Nobody knows how to write immediately, so there will be some ‘rules’ that you find will work for you. Don’t toss everything away and stick to your original guns that you created in high school. You might not really know how commas work. You might have a problem with info dumps. There are always weaknesses that need to be shored up, which some ‘rules’ can help with. Just don’t jump down every rabbit hole that is presented to you.
- Do your own research. Depending on the words and opinions of others can push you in THEIR direction with YOUR story. They don’t understand exactly what you’re going for, especially in a series. They might not even know your genre, so they talk in a fairly general idea. Story Insert:
Long ago, I went to several writing seminars and local experts with Beginning of a Hero. They all gave me what I thought was good advice and I tried to use it all. The thing is that none of them were fantasy authors, so it was all general. None of them were authors of a series or even fiction too. I nearly destroyed my idea because I followed all of this advice without doing my own research. In fact, the only time I ran into a fantasy author during this time, he told me to stick to it and continue building my world. That’s it.
This means that you need to compare the advice you get to the research you do and the path you want the story to go. Otherwise, you can destroy your story and any passion you had for the craft. After all, if you genuinely ‘kill your darling’ and it isn’t able to be revived, an author might not try again.
- This sound stressful to you? Well, I said these should help with creating the least amount of stress. That doesn’t mean none. In fact, the hardest period of an author’s life could be the beginning. You don’t have confidence or experience, so you look to those who have that. Some may take you under their wing while others try to change you into a copy of themselves. There are a lot of minefields for an author trying to find their style, path, and voice. The declaration of ‘rules’ makes it a lot harder, so just be wary and you’ll make it through.