Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Avoiding Stupid Advice

There's a whole metric asston of writing advice floating out there in the interwebs. So much so, in fact, that I don't think I have a whole lot to add. I mean, I COULD tell you my writing philosophy and etc. but as a non-published motherfucker, why would you take my advice over, say, Stephen King's? Go read On Writing, not my shitty blog.

(SPOILER ALERT: There were three cursewords in the previous sentence. Ask the little ones to leave the room before you read this blog post out loud.)

So, here's my idea to better the writing community as a whole. Instead of giving you positive, helpful, upbeat advice, I will tell you what I find to be shitty advice that you should ignore. This may be a recurring segment, if I find a whole lot of shitty things out there, but maybe not. Also based on participation. So here are two old warhorses that need to be put down.

1.) "Write what you know!"

God damn. This is the ultimate writing advice. And not just the ultimate, pop-psych bullshit, but also the tritest, tweest nonsense ever promulgated by middle school English teachers.

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand what the idea is behind this little chestnut, and that idea is not bad. Probably better advice, probably what originally sparked this terrible little sentence would be better expressed as, "Write what rings true." Because you should. You should find the emotional core of your characters, and express that. And if their actions seem like something that real humans wouldn't do, then it will ring false, and be shitty writing. Or, at the very least, pulp.

So what's wrong with the actual "write with you know" business? Well, let me put it like this. You know when you go to a party and you get stuck in a corner chatting with that guy you don't really know and just to make small talk you ask what he does for a living? Then you spend the next hour hearing about all the vagaries and vicissitudes of financial planning and you finally just mention casually that you need to go get a beer and then never come back? Well, imagine reading a book by that guy.

Writing what you're passionate about is boring. You're boring everybody. Stop boring everybody! But do take the kernel of truth in this old maxim and write what's true to life.

2.) Actually, I had a number 2 planned for this, but I'm too exhausted to write it right now. Also, I wasn't really happy with how number 1 turned out, so I think I may need to do this at a different time. So, depending on audience interest and participation, this column may recur. At least once. The end.

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