Tag Archives: writing advice

Authors Answer 133 – The Passive Voice

Active voice isn’t better than passive in all situations.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

The passive voice is something authors are often told not to use. But what exactly is the passive voice? Here’s a simple example.

Passive voice: The door was opened by John.

Active voice: John opened the door.

When you look at the two sentences, the active voice seems more dynamic. There’s actual movement. The passive voice is talking more about the door rather than John. In active, someone does something. For passive, something is done to something by someone or something. But is it something we should avoid using? Obviously, it shouldn’t be used when action is the focus of a scene. This week, we talk about the passive voice.

Question 133 – Do you find it difficult not to use passive voice? What advice would you give to writers who have this difficulty?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I do slip into it sometimes for reasons I can’t explain. I suppose for…

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Authors Answer 122 – Should You Write Every Day?

It’s one of those things that’s a good idea if you can actually manage it, but shouldn’t be promoted as essential.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

This month, we return to regular questions and answers, but we have a theme for the month. We’re looking at common advice that may be considered either bad or good advice. We’re starting off with how often we should write.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 122 – Write every day. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Although I might possibly be the worst person in the world at actually adhering to this advice, I do actually agree. In order to be a writer, you have to write, and write a lot, so the best way of accomplishing that is to write something – anything – every day. In that way it becomes a habit, something that you do automatically. Additionally, if you’re writing daily – even if it’s not anything that goes toward your current WIP – you’re getting lots of practice in, and that is never a bad thing…

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Authors Answer 108 – Bad Advice for Writers

It’s surprising how many “overused words to avoid” lists say you should never use them, when “never” belongs on such a list itself.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

A month ago, we talked about the best advice we’ve received as writers or authors. But what about the opposite? We don’t always receive great advice. Some of it is best to ignore. Some people just don’t know how to give advice that’s useful. Advice should be constructive, not destructive.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 108: What was the worst or least helpful piece of advice you’ve received about your writing?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Any kind of advice that hinges on “this is a rule of writing stories and should never be broken” is one I almost always write off. Writing rules are like rules of the English language: there are always exceptions, and these exceptions have been made by some of our favorite authors. Now, I don’t think I’m on the same level as George R. R. Martin, for instance, but I’d like to get there and saying “never ever ever write prologues because…

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Authors Answer 104 – Best Advice for Authors

Lots of very good advice here.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Welcome to a very special Authors Answer! This is our 104th edition, which means it’s the end of our second year. And just like last year, we have some guest authors giving their answer to this very important question. I’d like to thank authors Mark Lawrence, Michael J. Sullivan, Django Wexler, and Andrew Rowe for agreeing to participate. They were very gracious when I asked them to participate. And thank you to Jacqueline Carey for her response. Unfortunately, she has her hands full at the moment, so was unable to participate. I love authors who take the time to respond when they can!

This week’s topic is an important one. Authors sometimes need a bit of help, so we’re talking about the best advice we have received in our quest for being published.

fireworks Celebrating our 2nd anniversary!

Question 104 – What is the most important piece of writing advice anyone…

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5 Psychological Blocks that Stop Bloggers (and Writers) Going from Good to Great @OlgaNM7

Good advice.
I think 2 and 3 apply to me more than the others.

Lit World Interviews

Hi all:

I was checking through some blogs and found one that I felt spoke to me and I thought I’d share it with you to see if it resonates with you too. The original post was in Problogger and it’s a guest contribution by a psychologist, Dr Alice Boyes. You can read it here. Although the title of the post is: 5 Psychological Blocks that Stop Bloggers Going from Good to Great, I felt those apply to writers in general, and of course, many of us are also bloggers.

X ray photographs of person s skull uid 1171297

To summarise, Dr Boyes mentions five blocks to developing a blogger’s (read writer’s) career:

  1. Imposter Syndrome. You aren’t good enough, you aren’t really a writer, how can you compare with others, who are you trying to fool…This blocks you as you don’t feel you should reach to others whom you view as true… (bloggers, writers, authors…)…

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Writing Well: Magical Modifiers

Of course adverbs can be overused, but the common advice to never use them at all is misguided.

Live to Write - Write to Live

road hell adverbsEvery once in a while, you come across a discovery that gives you the opportunity to transform your writing. This post is about just such a discovery.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs, so says Stephen King. And, who am I to argue with Mr. King.

In Dead Poet’s Society, Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, forbids his students to use the word very (the most heinously bland and meaningless modifier of them all), “… because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.”

The case against adverbs is a strong one, with revered authors from every era and genre giving impassioned testimony against this eternal enemy of good writing:

  • “Adverbs are another indication of writing failure. Exactly the right verb can eliminate the need for the adverb.” William Sloane
  • “Omit needless words. Watch for adverbs that merely repeat…

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My take on dialogue tags

I might not yet be in a position to give truly great writing advice, but I can still comment on things like this. There are those who say that you should never use a word other than “said” to tag dialogue, and it is true that it’s definitely possible to go too far in the opposite direction. Personally, I can honestly say that using adverbs WITH specific words like “cried” is a kind of overwriting I’ve never even been tempted to do. (He emphasized determinedly.)

But I don’t agree with the idea expressed by the people who say never, that written dialogue without tags can ALWAYS make it clear how the line was said. For one example, how would you indicate whispering without either using “whispered” as a tag or having a sentence like “He lowered his voice.”?

But there are definitely words that should never be used in place of “said”. No one other that writers trying to avoid common words has ever used the word “exclaimed”, you can’t “sigh” a sentence, and people are still laughing about the time Ron “ejaculated” words.