Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Writing Pitfall I Wish I Knew About #IWSG

This month's IWSG question:  What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

After a few years of writing under my belt with a few short stories, a novelette and a Daily Devotional book (Cling to God) published, I feel the biggest pitfall writers come across is the doubts that surface when too many people offer advice.

When we first start writing, we throw ourselves into the task. Later we discover we have a lot to learn and we are eager to learn. That's a good thing. I will always advocate the need to continually learn our craft. However, with the advent of easily accessed information via blogs and other social media avenues, we are inundated by so many supposed 'rules' and opinions, that the waters can grow muddy. Suddenly we think we can't write that, we're doing it all wrong, and we have to please everyone.

My humble advice is, yes, learn the guidelines and why those guidelines are in place, but understand they can be broken. Your story trumps all. If it demands it starts on a dark and stormy night, then let it start on a dark and stormy night. Sure, you will cop some grief by other writers who only see the rules, but are they really your audience? Most readers won't care about those details if your story is awesome, written in a way that makes that story shine. Ultimately it's only you who knows that way.

Yes, it's important to have critique partners and editors (which is another pitfall by thinking you don't need them). You will find they may have opposing views. You can't please everyone. When in doubt, consider all options, consider the validity of their advice and the experience behind that advice, then go with what your story is crying out for. Does the advice enhance the story, make it more powerful? Is your reader missing the point of your scene? Why is your reader missing the point of your scene? Can you adjust that scene so your next reader doesn't miss that point?

What's the biggest pitfall you've come across on your writing/publication journey?

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Announcing The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

Theme: Masquerade
A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

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The IWSG has also formed a new partnership with WEP – Write-Edit-Publish.
We encourage our members, blogging and Facebook, to join this month’s challenge.

The August WEP Challenge – A Change of Heart
Who hasn’t had one? This one’s easy, right?
A commitment made when a prospect looked attractive, a decision on a course of action, and then regrets and reluctance to follow through. It could be an engagement, a date, a diet plan, a chore someone said they’d do and didn’t follow through. A strip poker-game. Or maybe a gamble with super-high, panic inducing stakes. A break for independence that once made, gives pause for second thoughts. A bolt for the grass-always-greener pasture and then wanting to vault-n-turn right back. Something offered, then withdrawn. Myriad ways to go.

Here is the permalink which will go live on August 6:
http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2018/08/writing-together-with-wep-and-iswg.html

48 comments:

  1. I agree, Lynda. Learn and listen to the 'rules' but then make your own and find your style.

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    1. Exactly. And it takes courage to stand firm with certainty rather than stubbornness.

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  2. One of the most difficult things that I had to learn is that rules are not laws that cannot be modified. They are plenty of exceptions and there is not such thing as writing by the book.
    Thanks for your insight. I so agree with you.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. I think a lot of writers struggle with that.

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  3. Everybody has an opinion which is why you have to go with your gut instinct.

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    1. Gut based on careful consideration rather than blind refusal to consider all options.

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  4. Yes, you need critique partners. It's obvious when someone hasn't had a second set of eyeballs on a manuscript.

    I've hit so many pitfalls in the past 16 years, I could post one a day for the rest of the year.

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    1. lol, I don't doubt it. As a publisher, you'd see so many.

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  5. Knowing the rules is important so when you do break them, it's for a real reason, done on purpose, and you can explain why you chose to do it that way.

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  6. Feedback is important but can be frustrating when it is conflicting. Ultimately, you have to decide what rules and advice to follow.

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    1. Often you need to learn to read between the lines when it comes to feedback.

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  7. I agree that critique partners/groups are critical. Better to have the raw material reviewed unpublished by a few, than forever in print for all to see. And yes, sometimes the action does take place on a dark and stormy night! :-)

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    1. Yes! Get it right before publication so you don't lose readers because of silly things that could've been fixed.

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  8. That's so true about having to work through conflicting advice and opinions. It isn't easy, but it's really important to consider everyone's views. Your work can only improve as a result.

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    1. Exactly. It's crucial you allow others to read your work before you send it out into the big wide world

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  9. Everyone has an opinion about how our story should move, but we must follow our gut.

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    1. It does take practice following that gut, though. It's about balancing those opinion with what's right for the story.

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  10. Ooh, this one is good, Lynda--too much advice. That's so true because often it contradicts. Or seems to. And only the fullness of the writing journey clarifies the confusion. Nice post!

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  11. Good advice, not being bombared by all the advice. Everyone has an opinion and there's nothing wrong with hearing what they have to say, but ulimately, your opinion as the writer is the most important.

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    1. Exactly, only you know what you are trying to convey.

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  12. In the beginning it was creating tension--but not for tension sake. Tough one. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. It is tough, but gets easier over time with practice.

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  13. There's definitely an excess of advice out there and some of it contradicts other. Apart from the basic rules of grammar, I think you just have to do what works for you.

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    1. Even grammar can be killed if it's killed for a reason that's relevant to the story or characters. Nothing is an absolute when it comes to art.

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  14. I think you're referencing the "too many cooks in the kitchen" phenomenon, which can also become a problem when you're part of a large writing group. You hit the nail on the head when you wrote about trying to write something that will please everyone. It just can't be done. That's why it's important to assess the source of the advice/opinion on your work, and to always take others' thoughts with a grain of salt. Thanks for the post, and happy writing to you. :)

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    1. With this philosophy, it becomes easier to deal with reviews as well.

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  15. Very true. You look at all of this advice and so much contradicts the other. Go with what works and screw the rest.

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    1. Love the way you phrased it. Succinct.

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  16. Definitely true. Only YOU know what's right for your story. It sort of depends on how much you trust your critique partners, too. They all have strengths and weaknesses. But ultimately, it's up to the author!

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    1. Exactly right. It's why it can take time to find the right critique partners for you too.

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  17. I got stuck in the rules rut for a while. And thinking I had to have a group tell me how and what to write. CP's and writing books are necessary, but at some point the writer just has to trust their own instincts.

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    1. Exactly. It' about weighing the advice carefully rather than simply going with everything everyone suggests.

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  18. Trusting your own instincts and owning your own writing is something that you grow into, helped along by not recognizing your story when too many eyes have roved over it and picked the 'eyes' out of it. A horrible experience. So is it a case of 'Writer. Love yourself and your writing.' My problem was I thought everyone knew more than I did and that's not always true, LOL.

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  19. Yes, too much advice can enhance the doubts. Great advice.
    Happy belated IWSG!

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  20. Yes! Great advice to stick to your story and only use the rules to improve your writing, not destroy it. :)

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  21. I think one of the pitfalls I've faced is that my stories don't "read" like other people's stories; I've read through novels and short stories that are in the genre that I want to write, and I feel like I should tailor my writing to sound more like theirs so that I can increase my chances of getting published. But of course, if I did that, I wouldn't sound like myself anymore, and I wouldn't enjoy writing as much.

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    1. And maybe your unique voice will stand out above the rest.

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  22. Yes, yes, and yes! Totally agree about letting the story rule. I'm excited about the next IWSG anthology and the WEP merger.

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  23. Great advice! You really can't please everyone and reading is definitely subjective. :)
    ~Jess

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  24. It's a pitfall every new writer falls into--listening to every bit of advice until they've over listened. =) I like to believe the journey is similar, but unique for each of us, and accordingly, we should pursue the path that makes the most sense to our journey.

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    1. Often we have to go through the processes to work out what works best for us too.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.