Advice for Writers

I’ve encountered several good sources for writerly advice lately, many of them originally posted by Steven Saus. Here are a few of my favorite bits of advice:

1. Play well with others. Seek out criticism and use it to make your writing better. Assimilate suggestions from readers, editors and authors. Don’t be condescending (“you just don’t get it”) or think you’re the exception to a rule.

2. Don’t be a brand. Be a person, be accessible, be honest, and be yourself. The moment you become a commodity you lose authenticity…and readers. I think you also start to become condescending, so see #1.

3. Avoid tropes and stereotypes. Editors and anthologists have seen these stories before, hundreds of times, and they won’t be interested in your story either, even if you think you have An Awesome New Take on the beautiful princess being molested by her fat alien king father. You’re not that special; see #1.

4. Hard work is the only way to success. There is no shortcut. Self-published authors who want to be professional writers work just as hard, if not harder, than those who write for major publishers.

5. Always remember the basics. It’s never too late to improve your prose and change your writing style for the better. It’s amazing how many writers haven’t taken a class or read a book about the simple elements that will make their work readable. It’s also amazing how many writers think their work is good enough that they can ignore these beginner rules!

This list is not comprehensive by any means. If you’re a writer, what’s some great advice that was given to you? Please share with the class!

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