Mind Your Own Business—The 10 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice I've Received
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on the 10 best pieces of writing advice that I had received during my career, so this month I thought I'd review the 10 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice I've Received. The following bits were dispensed by well-meaning writers and industry professionals in workshops, roundtable discussions, and private conversations, and their names shall remain anonymous.
Worst Advice #1: Write the synopsis after you've written your book. Um, no. Your goal as a working writer is to sell a book before you write it. In order to sell a book before you write it, you simply must master the art of writing a synopsis. And writing a synopsis before your begin writing your book will help you to think through issues so you don't write yourself into a corner.
Worst Advice #2: Forget about writing chapters, instead concentrate on writing scenes. Sure, if you have lots of extra time on your hands to go back later and group the scenes into chapters, only to find that you need transitions to make them flow seamlessly. File this one under "P" for "Please Make My Life More Complicated."
Worst Advice #3: Critique groups are dangerous. Not true, unless your critique partners have criminal records. Otherwise, the right critique group will help to keep you motivated and productive. Plus, critiquing other writers' work will make you a stronger writer.
Worst Advice #4: Write the book of your heart. Go ahead. Then put a big bow on it and give it to your mother for Christmas, because no one else will be interested in reading it, much less buying it. Before you begin your second project, analyze your strengths and marry them to the market, then find a way to make that sellable idea the book of your heart.
Worst Advice #5: Don't pitch a series for your first book. The previous wisdom was that an editor will hesitate to buy a series from a new writer because if the first book bombs, the rest of the series is doomed. But editors now recognize that a series is the quickest way to build readership, so if you have a good idea for a series, go for it.
Worst Advice #6: Don't allow an editor to change your work. Wrong. Remember that you're writing for a worldwide audience—let your editor do her job as long as she isn't nitpicking your work to death. She just might be making your work more sellable to other markets.
Worst Advice #7: Don't befriend your editor. Wrong again. It's not a good idea to become best-buddy confidantes, but you should strive for a professional friendship with your editor. This industry is complicated and frustrating—it's always nice if you're conducting business with someone you actually like, and vice versa. Remember that an essential ingredient in a successful career is an editor who champions your work.
Worst Advice #8: Don't sign an agency agreement. If you're willing to sign an agreement with your pest control company, you should be willing to sign an agreement with the person(s) who hold your writing career in their hands. (But remember, an agency contract is negotiable, just like a publishing house contract.)
Worst Advice #9: Self-promotion is useless. This statement is mostly wrong. Self-promotion without purpose can be a waste of time and money, but if you plan a self-promotion campaign wisely, you can eventually convince your publishing house to put money behind you, too. Figure out what you can do for yourself better than your publishing house (a website, for example) and do it, always keeping your editor apprised.
Worst Advice #10: If your agent refuses to send out a project, send it out yourself. STOP! Either 1) trust your agent's expensive advice, or 2) get a new agent.
7 Brides for 7 Bodies (Body Movers)
Carlotta Wren's life has taken a startling turn--she's not sure what's going to happen next. So when her retail job temporarily plants her in the world of wedding planning, she's happy for the distraction--at first. Because the happily-ever-after setting only heightens the stress surrounding the decisions she faces about her romantic life. The three hot men vying for her attention aren't going to wait forever for her answer.
On the other hand, at least the bridal show gets her away from body moving for a while, right? Wrong. Because when grooms all over Atlanta start dropping like flies, once again, Carlotta finds herself square in the middle of a murder mystery!
Stephanie Bond was several years into a corporate computer programming career when an instructor in her night school MBA program remarked she had a flair for writing and encouraged her to submit one of her projects to academic journals. "But," Stephanie says, "all I could think was 'I wonder if I could write a romance novel?' "
She spent every spare moment the next couple of years writing and submitting manuscripts before selling her romantic comedy IRRESISTIBLE? to Harlequin books. After selling ten projects in two years, Stephanie walked away from her corporate career to write commercial fiction full time. To date, she's published over 70 romance and mystery projects with Random House, St. Martin's Press, HarperCollins, Mira Books, and more recently, under her own imprint.
Stephanie's independently published romantic comedy STOP THE WEDDING!, a Kindle bestseller in three languages, is currently in development at The Hallmark Channel for a 2-hour movie.
Stephanie lives in midtown Atlanta and is probably working on a story at this very moment. For writing tips and a daily writing blog, visit www.stephaniebond.com.
This article appeared in the February 2005 issue of the Galley, Georgia Romance Writers' monthly online newsletter. Permission is granted to sister RWA® chapters to reprint with credits to author and chapter.