Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Suck. Okay, Well Can You Be More Specific?

As I mentioned here not so long ago, some awesome advice I got from a friend way back when was this: "Don't suck." That's all well and good, because I knew what Frank was saying to me when he said that.

But what does that advice mean to you? 

If a writing mentor were to tell you "don't suck," what would you understand that to mean?

Ralph L Angelo Jr: I'd have to think that means make sure you write something engaging and interesting. Something that presses all the right buttons with your audience, but also is true to yourself and not just a cookie cutter book or project. In other words, don't just go through the motions, but actually write something you would want to read and of course something you are proud to put your name on at the end.

Mark Koch: While producing something you are proud of, ensure that you consider how it will appear to the reader. Write only for yourself, and you will likely be the only one who appreciates your writing.

Mark Bousquet: To me, this means, "Don't be lazy." We all have those moments in a story when you know you need to do something you don't want to do because it's time consuming - maybe it's trying to find out the right handgun a Norwegian soldier should be using in World War 2, or going back through your story to provide infrastructure for a new subplot you introduced at the end of a draft. If you know something needs to be done, do it. Now or later is fine, but before publication.

Peter Welmerink: I believe if a writing mentor told me to DON'T SUCK, he'd be saying to make sure, when I am all done with letting my writing SUCK on that FIRST DRAFT, by simply writing without abandon or caring about if sentence structure, grammar, the rest, was all good and just GETTING THAT FIRST DRAFT DONE, by telling me to DON'T SUCK, he/she would be saying to go through that SECOND DRAFT with care and conscience and polish it to perfection.

Van Allen Plexico: Do your best work. Don't settle for less. Don't put something out for public consumption that reflects badly on you. Drink from the glass or cup; don't use a straw. You're a grown up.

Marian Allen: Be technically competent and respect your readers.

Violet Patterson: Tell an unforgettable story.

Ray Dean: In one of my writing communities a member complained that one of the first reviews she had on a self-published novel stated that she needed some editing for basic grammar and sentence structure. She lamented that she didn't have the money to pay someone to edit. We offered her ideas on how to get some help with editing or resources for her to help and edit her own work. Later that day she replied to the thread saying... "That's okay, I like my novel... my MOM likes my novel... haters gonna hate!" I'm not saying that her mother isn't able to identify good work when she sees it, but discounting that review as merely a hater probably isn't the best thing to do. We can always get better... learn more about plotting, grammar, characterization, etc. We can always improve and we should... to me "Don't Suck" means if you can make something better... do it. Don't get lazy.

Selah Janel: Don't write to a formula or what you think you should be writing about. Do what hasn't been done or try a different take on things. Don't write with the mindset to try to advance plan what the next new thing or big bestselling idea will be. Write what you know and be true to the writer you are. Definitely edit and pay attention to spelling, grammar, and formatting. If you're writing to a specific call or magazine, then write what the guidelines ask for. Stretch your wings and be original, but the editors definitely are asking for certain things for a reason. Keep going, keep reading, keep writing, keep pushing yourself to get better.

Lee Houston Jr.: "Don't Suck" to me means I make sure that everything I submit for publication is the best I can humanly create. The reader deserves no less.

Shelby Vick: It boils down to:  Don't cheat the reader. That applies to Western, SciFi, mysteries, etc.

Rebekah McAuliffe: Don't be afraid to bend the rules. Technique and methods should be important, but don't let them overshadow the actual writing of the story.

Tony Acree: Make sure you run spelling and grammar check at least once. Hmm. Twice. And never, ever, start your story with "It was a dark and stormy night."

Terri Smiles: Work at it, revise, revise revise, until it becomes what I intended. For me it was advice to blow deadlines if I needed to in order to create a product I was proud to have my name on.

H. David Blalock: Know your limitations, then push harder. Get outside your comfort zone and take the reader with you. Readers get bored with the same storyline over and over again. Show them something they, and you, have never seen before. Most importantly, don't leave them hanging.

TammyJo Eckhart: Don't be afraid to push the edges of what a genre should include or should be about. While you'll have a harder time selling your work, you'll be more satisfied with it and those readers and publishers who find you will appreciate that you aren't mundane.