Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Really Bad Writing Advice

Hi Gang,

Having noted that the internet is loaded with fabulous, and, all right, possibly a tiny bit of less fabulous, writing advice, I have decided that the moment is ripe for someone to start handing out really bad writing advice.

In the self-promotional vein, I am thinking that not only will I be able to corner the market on appalling directions for would-be novelists, but that this will go a long way toward winning awards as really bad branding too!!!

I’m so excited.

Anyway, here is wee sample of the misguided pap that I plan to send into cyberspace for all eternity:
Dear Clueless One, 
Because there are no good books out there for teen readers, I have taken it upon myself to write a uniquely superb (and also uniquely long) trilogy with magic elf robots who save the world, reinstitute the meaning of Christmas, and also promote dental hygiene. I am calling it “The Dental Floss Games.” Get it? 
Is 895 pages too long for the first book in the trilogy? Also, I’m not completely sure of how the first book ends, so I decided that that would be a good cliffhanger. My know-it-all critique group is being very negative, but this is all right, right? 
Whiny Genius

To which I reply:

Dear Whiny, 
No and yes. I think. Or maybe yes and no. Or possibly, oh my God, no! I guess what I’m saying here is that you should just follow your own inner voice, no matter how long-winded. Ignore the advice of others; you should only be around positive people who support your dream.

Also, after 895 pages of magic elves with pristine gums, your readers will be so damned glad to reach the ending that they won’t actually care about the ending. 

You too can send writing questions great and small to the Clueless One. Really stupid questions are particularly appreciated, but I guess that an intelligent question would be OK too, if you insist. I'm at


  1. Dear Clueless Whiny Genius, (not sure who I'm writing to)
    The worst writing advice I got was from a published writer who said to research that my idea(s) haven't been done to death. Heavens. (Or is it Heck?) I found that everything has been done already. So what was that about? What now? I keep trucking.

    I'm glad you’re back on your blog, Ann.

  2. Ha ha ha! This is great... er, I mean terrible ...
    I'll pass along one I've heard from a couple of new writers:
    "I don't want to include any conflict in my story. I'm writing for children! There will be time enough for them to learn about conflict and negativity when they grow up. Why do we want to rush them into reading about conflict when they're so *young*?"
    Let's see what you can do with that, oh Clueless One. :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Dear Ruth,

      Please inform your wise friends that even though we all know that conflict is ever so bad for children, as a highly experienced yet clueless children's book writer, I'm here to tell you that there is a way to get around the iron clad No-Conflict Rule. Children feel wonderfully safe when conflict is summarily resolved by an all-knowing grown-up, preferably one who can utter the words, "And the moral of this story is..." with didactic authority at the end.

      And I can personally guarantee that this is true because I just read my story, which is exactly like this, to my sister's cousin's neighbor's second grade Brownie troop, and they loved it.

      Top that.



  3. Dear Mirka,

    You think that's bad advice? Only wait to hear the even worse advice I'm planning to dole out.



  4. Ha ha! That's a perfect answer! :D

  5. That. . . was horrifically awesome! LOL! And such good points