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Debunking Writing Myths

Originally published Fall 2010–Spring 2011

Never use adverbs. Always show instead of tell. You have to be active on social media. Read as many craft books as you can. Sound familiar? You’ve probably heard these and more taught as “rules” of writing. More often than not, though they’re myths. And I’m here to debunk them.

myth vs truth
Debunking Writing Myths: Blogging & Social Media

    You MUST be involved in social media through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter if you want to get published.

    You MUST write a great, well-crafted story, and you must study the market/industry if you want to get published. more…

Debunking Writing Myths: “Write What You Know”

    “Write what you know” means you can only write about what you have personally done or experienced in the confines of your own life.

    “Write what you know” means you can use everything you’ve experienced in your life to imagine other possibilities, other worlds, other outcomes. more…

Debunking Writing Myths: “Omniscient POV Is Bad”

    Omniscient POV is bad—it’s lazy writing, it’s a sure sign of an amateur, it’s the same thing as head-hopping.

    Omniscient POV is not the same thing as head-hopping; those who do it well are masters of the craft and work hard at it. more…

Debunking Writing Myths: “First Person POV is the easiest to write.”

    I’m going to write my story in first person, because first-person point of view is the easiest to write.

    First-person POV may seem to be easier, but it’s actually just as hard to do as any other POV—sometimes harder. more…

Debunking Writing Myths: “Eliminate all WASes and HADs from Your Manuscript”

    Eliminate ALL instances of was and had from your manuscript. Those are passive verbs, and that means they’re bad, bad, bad.

    Sometimes, you need a good was or had to keep things coherent and easy to read. more…

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Debunking Writing Myths: “Eliminate ALL Adverbs”

    Eliminate every single adverb from your writing because adverbs are bad, bad, bad.
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    Though adverbs should be used sparingly, sometimes you do actually need them. more…

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Debunking Writing Myths: “Read, Read, Read”

    If you want to be a writer you must “read, read, read” all the time to learn how.
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    When you are in the throes of creating the first draft of your story, reading fiction may actually work against you. more…

Debunking Writing Myths: Always/Never Use “Said” Dialogue Tags

    Never use a “said” dialogue tag. / The only dialogue tag you should ever use is “said.”
    .

    Like anything else in writing overuse of anything is lazy writing and can frustrate readers (and editors). more…

Debunking Writing Myths: The Opening Salvo

    Never open with dialogue. / Never open with description. / Never open with introspection. / Never use was and/or had in opening lines. / Always open in media res.

    The rules to follow for your opening lines are that they capture the readers’ attention and that they set the tone for your story. more…

Debunking Writing Myths–“Never use fragments, one-word sentences, or one-line paragraphs.”

    Never use fragments, one-word sentences, or one-line paragraphs.
    .

    If it makes sense, works for the story you’re telling, and flows for you, use it. more…

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Debunking Writing Myths: “Showing Is Always Better than Telling”

    You should always make sure that you’re always writing in an active, showing style, rather than just telling the reader what’s happening. Showing is always better than telling in fiction.

    Sometimes, telling is much better than showing. more…

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