| What's the worst writing advice you've ever been given? I'm surprised I couldn't find a thread like this on AW already, especially since this question gets asked a lot on places like Quora. So I thought it'd be fun to start one here. Share the worst writing advice you've ever been given, and share why you think it's bad. I'll start with a few. |


1. Don't use "said" This one is probably the worst writing advice I've ever heard. I still see it given, usually by newbie writers, online and even here on AW. I think it's mistakenly given out by Elementary and Middle school teachers, and some people still swear by it for awhile. They usually say to replace "said" with stronger words like "announced," mumbled," etc. No, no, no. That's terrible advice. "Said" is an invisible word, so the reader skims over it, not even thinking about it. Replacing every one with something else just distracts the reader and makes the dialogue seem... unrealistic.

2. Don't write in present tense This one specifically irks me. Most people write in past tense, but some write in present. I've heard that certain readers will put a book down if they notice it's in present tense. That's on them. Personally, I usually write in past tense, but certain stories are told better in present tense. Thinking that you should never use present tense is a mistake imo.

3. Always use strong, specific action verbs in place of passive verbs This usually applies to words like "go, went, have, saw," etc. It's not actually bad advice in and of itself, but it can be overused. Replacing passive verbs with stronger action verbs makes the writing much more vivid of course, but overusing it can be too much. Especially when you replace a simple word like "went," with two or three-syllable monsters. If you do that for every passive verb, the prose will become long and hard to read, then the reader will probably skim over the text. There's always a time and place.

4. Write what you know Now if everyone followed this advice, the fantasy genre would cease to exist. Because no one on Earth has been to Hogwarts or fought an evil sewer clown. You can be from a small town of Hicksville, AL, but nothing stops you from writing about someone in NY or LA, or writing about a wealthy business owner or a pirate. I will give a piece of advice, however, which I think is better: Write genuinely. If you've ever been lonely, you can write from a place of loneliness. If you've ever been angry, you can write about an angry protagonist. Also, you don't need to have ever suffered a tragic experience to write something tragic. We've all been sad/heartbroken, so write from there. Then, in a way, you are writing from someplace you know.

5. Cut out all adverbs Again, this is another type of good advice that can be overused. I won't focus too much ere, because most of us know that adverbs are often lazy writing, or it can be expressed with better words. However, never using them is bad advice imo. A few here and there are fine, especially if you use specific adverbs and well-placed adverbs.

6. Novels need Prologues This one is a rare one, but a few people still think this. No, novels don't need a prologue. In fact, very few novels do. Often times it's just exposition and info dumps. Be very careful when using prologues.

7. Never use "was" Now this one is really, really bad advice. Although, I've seen a few AW writers give this out. They assume that any "to be" verb (was, is, etc) is always passive. They aren't. For example, "It was a Wednesday afternoon," isn't passive. But several writers will go long ways to avoid using the word "was," and in doing so will replace it with long, boring prose that makes it clear that it's a Wednesday afternoon, instead of just plainly and explicitly telling us. They also tend to make long run-on sentences by doing that, usually since they never use commas and only use preposition words.

| Thanks for reading. Lemme know what pieces of writing advice you really hate |