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Stupid Writing Rules: 12 Bad Writing Tips New Writers Give Each Other by Anne R. ... (1 Viewer)

Lincoln

Senior Member
Numbers three and ten are the only writing tips on that list I've ever heard. The rest were silly and I usually hear the opposite. As for three and ten, I actually agree with three. If you put contemperary stuff in your book, it will date it. But she's right about ten. People go overboard with their war on "was."
 

Cran

Da Boss Emeritus
Patron
I actually agree with three. If you put contemperary stuff in your book, it will date it.
You say that like it's a bad thing.

Given the fluid nature of English, and the way we describe things from one generation to the next, what would you suggest putting into a story that won't date it?
 

Ptolemy

Senior Member
Three is relative.

If you can sneak a reference in there for that one fan of Firefly, go for it man.
 

Cran

Da Boss Emeritus
Patron
In case anyone is interested, Anne R. Allen (the author of the OP blog post) has agreed to be a guest victim ... er, author interviewee for sometime in the new year.
 

bobo

Senior Member
In case anyone is interested, Anne R. Allen (the author of the OP blog post) has agreed to be a guest victim ... er, author interviewee for sometime in the new year.

Good work, Cran (bery) \\:D/
 

JustRob

FoWF
WF Veterans
I took a look at her blog and am inclined to take issue with some of it although the bad rules mentioned are pretty obviously bad. On the other hand, is her advice any better? To quote Pirates of the Caribbean "The Code is more what you call guidelines, than actual rules."

Regarding her advice about the Dunning-Kruger effect, "the least competent people are the most likely to overestimate their own competence" does not imply that the most confident people are likely to be less than competent. It is only a statement about one particular category of person from which no inferences about other categories can be drawn. Personally I am confident about my own level of confidence because I gained it by developing complex computer software for forty-five years and to software developers computers are mirrors perpetually reflecting our own incompetence and overconfidence. The consequence is habitual self-assessment in everything that one does. I have always said that when it comes to criticising me I am at the front of the queue. Also as a trouble shooting analyst I learned to consider every possible aspect of a situation, even the possibility that I was myself wrong about it. Anyway, if I'm not allowed to brag at my age, then when?

So far as being wary of critique from peers such as we offer here, of course there is always a caveat about it and in fact we may well exude confidence when writing it just to give clarity to the message, confident that if we may be wrong someone else will jump in to give an alternative opinion. This process gives the reader the opportunity to form their own informed opinion from the various views offered. All participants in the forums should understand this.

On the subject of valuing advice from published writers more highly, one must consider what it actually is that gets books published and whether that is what one is attempting to achieve. Published writers are obviously competent at getting published, however they achieved that. I think it was Ursula Le Guin who was very critical of the publishing industry and their filtering of written works to suit their purposes rather than to maintain the quality of published works. Who do we write to please? Is it publishers looking to maximise profits or intellectual types steeped in preconceptions about what good writing is, or is it just people like us? Since I've taken an interest in writing I've become more dissatisfied with published books because I see how bad they can be, not wholly bad of course but just erratic as a result of professional writers churning them out instead of crafting them as carefully as we try to. I wouldn't rush to get advice from their authors. Perhaps their success in getting published wasn't specifically the result of the quality of their writing but some other factor. Let's not forget that Betamax was technically better than VHS and was used by professionals even after VHS had won the battle for the domestic market. The publishing industry works to just the same rules of battle.
 

bobo

Senior Member
Actually, she's only mentioning half of what the Dunning-Krüger Effect is about.
With the words of wiki '
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.'
In other words: Low-ability people tends to overestimate themselves, whereas high-ability people tends to underestimate themselves !! :hi:
 

Cran

Da Boss Emeritus
Patron
For prolific published writers, we can often disregard their later stuff; it's their early works which got them noticed and signed up.
 

JustRob

FoWF
WF Veterans
For prolific published writers, we can often disregard their later stuff; it's their early works which got them noticed and signed up.

That's true so far as identifying authors whose ability we admire goes, but whether they are good sources of advice is another matter. To make a comparison, long time experienced drivers are not necessarily good driving instructors because driving has become second nature to them and they may not even realise how they achieve what they do any more. Surely the measure of an author's advice later in their career is the quality of their later stuff. If an author's early works got them noticed then it would be best to get their advice early in their career, wouldn't it?

In other words: Low-ability people tends to overestimate themselves, whereas high-ability people tends to underestimate themselves !! :hi:

Yes, I do that.
 

bobo

Senior Member
Well I know what category to place you in now ;) lol

Me too \\:D/
Actually ,the second part of the Dunning-Krüger says (more to the word) that high-ability people tends to over-estimate others.
"The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."
 
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bobo

Senior Member
Ah, so I over-estimated you when I assumed that you got it right the first time.

Well,those being two sides of the same coin :lol:
But sinceyou took to elevating yourself based on the one side only, I had to enlightenyou about the other side too, my friend – sorry :hi:
 

JustRob

FoWF
WF Veterans
But since you took to elevating yourself based on the one side only ...

Did I though, or did you read something into what I wrote that wasn't there? That's what WF is all about, discovering whether readers actually see what we intended in what we have written. Information can get distorted both in the writing and in the reading and we're pretty lucky if what ends up in the reader's mind is anything like what started out in our own. It's hard enough to overcome that fundamental problem anyway without trying to comply unnecessarily with bad rules as well.

On that very subject of potentially misleading writing, my angel recently read out to me an excerpt from a factual book that she is currently reading. The gist of it was that one inmate of a prison killed another "because he thought he was God". So who did he think was God, himself or his victim? Perhaps he killed the man he thought was God because he wanted to be an atheist or felt that he'd been treated unfairly by the Almighty. He had ended up in prison after all. I actually seek out such ambiguities to prove how careful we have to be in what we write and my work is full of such things on purpose.
 

thesnowman147

Senior Member
I was a little bit nervous, but relieved to hear I've never given out this advice. The dialogue thing stuck out to me a little bit as there are books that I've read and movies watched where the dialogue didn't resemble realistic communication. In other words, the characters didn't talk like people. I think that goes beyond using contractions and not being afraid to sentence fragments in dialogue, but also the level of vocabulary, wording, and how natural the dialogue seems to fit into the story.
 

Ueyv

Member
I really like #12 of Stupid Writing Rules. It seems like you would be edging close to plagiarism because of the writing habits you might observe from watching another author in work but it's ignorant to suggest that people like Quentin Tarantino or Jimi Hendrix had their creative writing given to them without some influence. It's funny too as to how some might suggest that. Thanks for the link to the rules. It really just sort of cleared up some things I could not really articulate in Google in order to find out more about.
 

Penless

Senior Member
3. 'don't refer to current celebs'

I've heard this a lot. Both from school and in writing book guides, and have mixed feelings on the advice.

Take the Edward Snowden case, and all books on data privacy (fiction and non) that came out in the following years!
I think that kind of topical writing can really help sell your work! It may even be read in the future for historians analyzing past events.

But I think it's true that if you overdo it on the context dependent references then international and future readers may abandon the work rather than interrupt the reading and googling terms every 2 minutes.

6. 'don't use said'
I've heard this a lot too, and it was only recently I came to appreciate how incorrect it is, and the value of the invisible 'said' !

12. 'your writing will resemble who you read'

Heard this too, but never as 'you shouldn't... ' just as an observation, not advice that it is good or bad.
 
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