Today’s you tell us comes compliments of Lane, @lweinberg18 on Twitter, who responded to my call for suggestions for these posts. I actually really love this question. Lane wondered what the worst writing advice people have ever heard from a colleague or editor.
There are two that I can think of right off, that I thought were particularly bad. The first was actually just in the past few months, on Twitter, when I saw an editor use the #pubtip hashtag to tell writers that they had to use only one POV per scene/chapter or they’d never get published by a romance publisher. I, and many others, pretty immediately took exception to that proclamation. It’s both bad advice,and it’s also untrue. There’s a vast, vast difference between rapidly switching POVs in a sentence or paragraph, and switching POVs in a scene. It’s okay to use more than one POV in a scene, honest. Just do it with purpose and don’t go crazy inserting random POVs in there. But yes, you can use more than one. And you’ll get picked up by a romance publisher. Just ask Nora
The other bad advice I didn’t hear or see directly, but learned of years ago when I was working with an author on her manuscript. I noticed that some of her sentences were incredibly awkward and realized she had no instances of the word “was” anywhere in her manuscript. Nowhere. Not one. Turns out, a former editor of hers had told her to eradicate every instance of the word “was” from her writing and to never ever use it in writing. People, the verb “to be” and any form of that, including “was” is not bad. It’s an integral part of our language and tying your writing in knots to avoid every usage of it is both ridiculous and will lead to painful reading. Was does not always equal passive and you have my permission to give a good hairpull to the next person who tells you that was always equals passive.
Now you tell me. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever heard dispensed, or ever heard of people receiving? I know there’s a LOT more out there. I’m hoping someone has something really ridiculous to share!