Sunday, April 14, 2013

Two Blogs Related to Writing Cliches

A writer friend, Nyki Blatchley, recently brought these to my attention. They are interesting because they each represent common approaches to writing rules that budding writers can encounter on the web. The first:

Is an amusing piece that lists some of those cringeworthy plot devices that have made most of us roll our eyes at one time or another. As a person with training in physiology, the "bopped over the head and knocked out" thing is a particular peeve of mine as well, for the reasons given. But as this second blog illustrates

every piece of advice about rules can be taken to an extreme.

As an aspiring writer, I've been paralyzed by well meaning advice at times. There's that cold clutch of panic and that sick, sinking despair when I realize my novel is employing something that at least some agents and editors allegedly hate enough to put on a pet peeve list. Then I remember that it's pretty much impossible to write without dipping into at least a few stereotypes. It's how they're handled that really matters.

And success is in the eyes of the reader.


  1. I have also read that before you even approach an agent, you have to do our research. It isn't (apparently) enough just to know what genres they like, which writers they approve of, and whether they manage to sell anything, you must follow an agent on Twitter, get to know their likes and dislikes, hone, prune, trim your ms to suit them.
    I'm afraid I'm pretty much in agreement with Jeffe Kennedy. Don't bother, you're wasting your time pandering to an illusion. If you get an agent it's because you got lucky and found one who happened to like your story. Most agents won't even reply to your submissions. It's the same story though, and you only subbed supposedly top notch agents. One in a hundred will like it and want to represent it.
    Write the story you want to write and publish it by hook or by crook. Agents aren't the Pope; many of them know nothing at all, except what happens to be selling at the moment. Take their pet peeves with a pinch of salt.

  2. And just when you think you've got a handle on what is and isn't verboten, you'll see something new. And you dutifully purge it from your manuscript. Then you'll read a book by a successful and well-reviewed writer that does the same thing you were assured was the kiss of death.

    I agree, there's a point where you just have to write your story and take the plunge.