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  • Writer's pictureJon

Take My Advice...Please.

Have some fun and Google "writing advice." You'd be amazed at the amount of advice out there. If you're new at this or haven't published your first book yet, it can be overwhelming, as it was for me. The vast majority of the advice comes from people nobody has ever heard of and quite a bit of it is good. On the flip side, a lot of the advice given ranges from bad to, well, to use the military alphabet, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

When I first started writing, I did as much research as I could to ensure my writing was the best it could be. When I wrote The Curse, I looked up and followed whatever advice I could find. I continued to research and follow writing advice on the other three books.

What was the result? Two years after publishing Rickshaw, New Mexico, I came across some advice from a notable source that made me think I was doing everything wrong. So I overhauled all four books, thinking that was all they needed. Case closed?


For the next couple of years, something bugged me about the overhaul, though I backed up what I did. In 2016, I sent off Justice to a professional editor. Boy, was that an educational experience. I learned a lot from her. Then the conflicts began.

While entering the fixes my editor recommended, some of those fixes conflicted with the way I write. It happens. But those conflicts started the ball rolling toward why I wrote this post.

Using what I learned from my editor, I decided to do another overhaul of my backlist of books. As I revamped the stories, I thought about all the advice I took over the years and, to use a show, my face reddened with anger.

Then I came to an epiphany.

I'm done with taking whatever advice I could find. Now I'll continue to take good advice on writing, editing, marketing, etc. But now, the advice goes through filters. For example, will it make me a better writer? Will it make my stories better? If the advice, including past advice, doesn't make it, it gets jettisoned.

So here's my advice to you, especially if you're just starting out:

Write your stories your way. Write your stories using your style. If you can't afford an editor, find a good set of beta readers who can pick off your mistakes and help you craft your story better. In fact, whether you can afford a good editor or not, find those beta readers.

Your grammar doesn't have to be perfect. Other than certain English teachers, who speaks with perfect grammar? Now I'm not saying it's okay to use bad grammar and not edit it. It just doesn't have to be perfect. Do edit and do make your grammar better. Make sure your writing is clean and tight.

Join a writing club or group. I'm currently a member of the New Orleans chapter of Sisters In Crime. Yes, I'm a Mister in the organization. I learned much and hope to make a difference in the chapter when my time comes. The Romance Writers of America is another good group, regardless of which genre you write.

There are two podcasts I recommend. The first is Joanna Penn's and here's her podcast link, Her podcasts run the gamut from writing to publishing to marketing. The other podcast I recommend is The Dead Robots Society and here is their website, Penn takes a polite approach while The Dead Robots Society's Paul Cooley and Terry Mixon are more humorous and coarse with their language. The grammar advice from two paragraphs ago came from Cooley and Mixon. Both podcasts are worth a listen and both have YouTube channels.

There is so much more advice I could pass along, but you can search and easily find it online. Outside of improving your writing and editing mechanics, if the advice goes against the way you write, move on and continue searching. Develop your filters to put through the advice you find, including this post.

Now you're armed with the information you need and how to research good writing advice. Go forth and be the best author you can be.

Happy writing!!!

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