Writing Advice I Hate

Writing Advice I Hate

 Bit of a disclaimer, I don't really hate anything per se, but I recently did a podcast episode about writing advice that I think is often misinterpreted, unhelpful, or applied in ways I disagree with.

You can check that out on your favourite podcast app or read a few of my least favourite pieces of writing advice below. 


“Said Is Dead”

If you use it sparingly, “said” is pretty invisible. Sometimes it’s obvious who’s speaking. You don’t need to use a dialogue tag in every line or you can end up with something like this:

"That's all right. What's your name?" I questioned.
"My name's Harry Potter, although most people call me Vampire these days." he grumbled.
"Why?" I exclaimed.
"Because I love the taste of human blood." he giggled.
"Well, I am a vampire." I confessed.
"Really?" he whimpered.
"Yeah." I roared.

That's from My Immortal, a famously bad fanfic. If you’re interested, I rewrote that^ conversation on the podcast (latest episode) to show how you can use action beats instead of overusing dialogue tags.


“You Don’t Need to Read to Write”

You don’t need to read 100 books a year to write, sure, but reading fiction is so so so helpful. You learn so much by actively reading. You learn about structure, grammar, vocabulary, narrative devices, common cliches, what works, what doesn’t, and so on.

If you prefer watching movies/shows to reading books, why not invest some time in learning to write a screenplay? It might be something more up your alley, and you might be better at it.

I know it can be hard to balance writing/reading with your other responsibilities so this doesn’t come from a place of judgement. Even 1 book per year is so much more helpful than 0.



Free Writing 
Cheat Sheets
Body language cheat sheet, settings cheat sheet, and a plot outline template, straight to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!



“'Write What You Know’ Is Stupid”

I see so much pushback against “write what you know”, but I think drawing on your personal experiences can add a lot to your story.

You might not know what it feels like when your war unicorn is slaughtered for meat, but you’ve probably lost a pet. You know what it feels like, and you can harness that.

Plus there’s magic in writing about things you have some capacity to understand (to some extent at the very least).

Maybe ‘write only what you know’ would be stupid, but using your experiences to enrich your writing is cool, I think.


“You Have to Avoid Cliches Like the Plague”

Some readers prefer to be surprised, and prefer to see fresh ideas. Some! Not all! Others might prefer something safe, predictable, or cosy.

Some people really, really love certain cliches. All readers are different and there’s a market for everything. If a cliche makes you happy, I think you should write it. You can’t please everyone, but you can please yourself.

Think about how many near-identical Hallmark Christmas movies there are. Somebody’s out there watching those or they’d stop making them!


Want more?

In today’s episode of the Writing Club podcast I go into way more detail for each of these points, rewrite My Immortal, and cover other pieces of advice I "hate". Listen on...

Back to blog

You might also need...