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Showing posts from February, 2013

the auto mechanic and the cello: when writing advice goes wrong

As INTERN, I wrote plenty of writing advice posts on this blog. As Hilary-the-bumbling-novelist, I've sometimes found myself at odds with the very kind of advice I used to give. Most writing advice is geared towards a certain kind of linear, straightforward book, and lately I've been realizing how few of my favorite novels fit that description, and how tragic a mistake it would be for aspiring authors to let the available writing advice dictate the kind of novels they write—to let the tail wag the dog, in other words.
If you were an alien surveying online writing advice, it would be easy to believe that all earthling novels consist of "scenes and sequels" or that each one needs a "main character" and an "impact character" or that scenes must alternate between positive and negative or that x must follow y. If you were an alien with the good fortune of being beamed into a library, you discover that in fact there are a plethora of fine novels in whi…