Hello, writers. In re last week's topic:

J.K. Rowling indeed sued her lawyers-- man, that was quick. Don't lawsuits usually take, like, years?  They gave her a large sum of money, which she is passing on to the very British-sounding The Soldier's Charity, and she went and found herself a new lawyer.

(Question: How do you calculate the cash damages of turning a mid-list book into a best-seller?)

Apparently it was the lawyer's friend's friend... or the friend's friend's lawyer... a little fuzzy here, who yapped, and on Twitter no less.

Anyway, to tonight's topic: Writing advice.

Whenever we discuss writing advice, it generally comes up that people's least favorite aphorism is this one:

Write what you know.
Obviously this rule, if followed literally, would remove whole genres from existence. Every lived in 14th century France? Slain a dragon? Flown a spaceship? Apparently you're not supposed to write about it, then.

It would probably bother people a lot less if the rule were stated like this:

Use what you know.
That is, use what you know about human relationships, life's small annoyances and triumphs, the principles of physics, weather patterns, dentistry, the life cycle of the bald eagle... but most especially human relationships.

Here's my personal favorite bit of writing advice:

The story is king.
Remembering this has helped me delete many long paragraphs where I just liked the way I said something, and many story elements where I was trying to make a (God help us) political point.

(John Gardner mentioned this in his books on writing, decades ago, and it's still true: Your personal beliefs are going to come through anyway. Hitting the reader over the head with them is unnecessary and annoying.)

Here's my least favorite aphorism, which I saw on the blog of a frightfully famous writer:

Anything that helps you write is probably good and anything that keeps you from writing is probably bad.
It'll only take you a minute to come up with 150 examples to the contrary.

Anyway, if I were to come up with my own aphorism, it would probably be something along the lines of

It's all in the revision.
Tonight I'd like you to give us your own bit of writing advice. Just one important thing that you've learned from your adventures in writing.

And also...

Tonight's challenge:
A callow youth and his/her stout companion, having learned that the fabled Jewel of Togwogmagog is locked in the depths of the dungeons of the Tower of Doom, are proceeding thence when they find their way blocked by...

[an obstacle very familiar to you]

Nothing daunted, the callow youth steps forward and confronts the dread beast with

[an object or tactic familiar to you]

while the stout companion

[reacts in the way someone you know well would react]

Try to limit yourself to 150 words.


Write On! will be a regular weekly diary (Thurs 8 pm ET) until it isn't.
Before signing a contract with any agent or publisher, please be sure to check them out on Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write and/or Writer Beware.
Your Email has been sent.