There are a number of crappy “rules” that some veteran writers like to tell newer ones, and they all generally negatively effect the newcomer in some way. These can seem like relatively small things, that have no serious impact, but can actually negatively affect both career and creativity if left to fester. What are some of these bad pieces of advice? Continue reading to find out!
Your Story Needs a Prologue
This is sort of a byproduct of an age of movies that have some sort of backstory and need a flashback right before they begin, but many writers feel they need a prologue before something happens. This is something I’m guilty of myself, in fact. However, prologues are old fashioned. Readers don’t bother to read them, sometimes publishers cut them, and often an agent will just toss the manuscript if they see one.
There are some cases where they work, such as an epic saga or fantastic tale, but for the most common story out there? Skip it. Don’t bother. Its introduction material that serves no purpose.
Don’t Put Modern Cultural References in it
Obviously, this is pretty situational as well. If you’re writing some fantastical piece, set in the far future or the distant past – or an entirely different world and galaxy – you don’t do this. But if you’re writing a story set in the here and now? You shouldn’t avoid putting references that might get “dated.” Most stories, sadly, don’t get a huge draw ten or more years in the future, so feel free to drop references that are contemporary if you want.
And if someone picks up your story in twenty years? That’s pretty badass. Most it will do is give a perspective of the times, and help future readers better understand it.
Avoid the Word “Said”
This is one I believed for the longest time myself, that you should avoid over using the word “said” in its usual context. This includes typing out things like “he said” or “they said” or “john said.” Typically, people who say this suggest using more energetic and engaging terms like “exclaimed” or “sneered” or “roared,” to give a sense of character’s emotion. You should not do it this way. Using “said” is fine.
What you should do in these situations is have the character speak, then act in a way that showcases how they’re feeling. Are they commenting on the cold? Then have them say it’s cold as hell and button up their jacket or shiver – show it.
There are a ton more of these “bad advice” instances that can be discussed, and maybe I’ll dig through the trash to find them if someone’s curious. For now, these are three that stood out to me and that I wanted to cover. Thanks for listening and feel free to check out the rest of my blog! I’ve got some other tips, stories, etc, to share!