On balancing and weighting writing advice (#IWSG Blog Hop)

On balancing and weighting writing advice

You’re stuck on a question about how to use a writing device, and off to the Internet/library/bookstore you go. Perhaps you stop after article number one, thinking certainly this must be the definitive answer, because this publishing professional has game to spare. She may well, but still your search should continue. Why? Because writing advice needs to be balanced and weighted. For every teeny facet related to being an author, there are often numerous opinions regarding the correct path forward. That’s right, from frowned-upon words, to execution of exposition, to ratio of dialogue to non-dialogue, no two authors are following the exact same instincts. Furthermore, prior to writing those advice articles/chapters, no two publishing professionals had the same mentors, publishing journeys, or life experiences. So I say balance and weight all the writing advice you take in, and keep taking it in your entire writing career, because when you do read yet another freaking article about dialogue tags, the cogs in your head will adjust the balances and weights for this sub-topic accordingly.

On balancing and weighting writing adviceOn balancing advice: Say you read three articles about best practices for book titles for your genre. Two of the articles advocate abstract titles; the other three say concrete titles are the way to go. That’s pretty close to a fifty-fifty split, so you may decide it doesn’t matter, or you may go with concrete because it has more votes.

On weighting advice: But even though abstract titles only got two of the five votes, both of the authors advocating abstract are best-selling, and so perhaps you decide to weight their opinions more heavily.

And don’t forget to take your own opinion into consideration.

I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)

Have you experienced inconsistent writing advice? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

P.S. I got shortlisted for a Crime Writers of Canada book award! My novel THE ALIBI NETWORK is nominated for an Unhanged Arthur Ellis, the unpublished category sponsored by Dundurn Press.


125 thoughts on “On balancing and weighting writing advice (#IWSG Blog Hop)

  1. Yes, I have been amazed over the years about the differences in the writing advice I’ve been given. My first critique group used to jump on me every time I used the word “was.” I suffered agonies trying to get rid of every single instance. Then, years later, I read a post by Anne R Allen calling out “the WAS police.” She plainly said that sometimes the word is necessary, and she advised not worrying about it. What a revolution! I came to realize the only person I needed to listen to ultimately was myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for co-hosting this month.
    I almost feel like all writing advice is inconsistent, but not purposely. I think that authors, for the most part, are caring and considerate people. When one finds success with a technique or device, they share it without necessarily taking all the variables into account.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have been given tons of conflicting advice. I believe to be a writer means to put an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself as well as being able to weather bad news and sift quickly through constructive criticism. Congrats on being shortlisted. Thank you for co-hosting!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting post and thanks for co-hosting IWSG. My editors have given definitive advice about the spelling of blond vs blonde but I still see it spelled incorrectly in traditionally published novels so that makes me question the advice. I do believe there tends to be an agreed-upon set of grammar rules, but publishing/marketing advice varies wildly, probably because human consumers are so unpredictable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve seen lots of conflicting advice online about what to do or not do. I’m more likely to take the advice of an author I follow and trust. In matters of style and voice, I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong answer. I like to get a wide range of opinions and weigh them up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good thoughts. I remember a quote from my younger years that has left me a bit skeptical of a lot of advice. “Take my advice, I don’t use it anyways.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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