Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Top Ten Writing Fallacies, by Kevin B Parsons

Youve read websites and blogs, attended seminars and conferences, read how-to books and youre confused! No wonder, some of the stuff youve learned may be off a bit, and some is just plain wrong. Youre confused. Heres a treat for you.  Without any more fanfare, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Top Ten Fallacies of Writing: 

1.) Write what you know.
Oh, sure. If that's true, Stephen King is a murdering, demon possessed zombie with a pedigree of werewolves. Write what you don't know. Write a suspense novel that includes the mating habits of sea lions. Check your Facebook friends. Get it over a thousand.  

2.) You must write with your voice.
That may be a good idea, unless your voice consistently says, "You're not a writer! That is crap! Step away from the keyboard and get a job at MacDonald's." You probably don't want to use that voice. Sing, I Just Gotta Be Me.

3.) Make sure your work is edited.
What if you WANT to write a word in all caps??? Or use three question Marks? Or capitalize a word like someone's named? Or use the wrong tensed up like a cheetah? Or is that cheater? Are you still wit me? Retweet todays joke.

4.) Avoid passive writing.
In our modern, PC world, we do not want to offend anyone or anything, even passive tense, as the Society For the Preservation of Passive Tense says in their Mission Statement. Come, on, give passive a shot. Just a little, once in awhile. Penelope was sad. Concise. Perfect. Practice turbo book signing. 

5.) Show don't tell.
What if your story is about a dog show, a car show, or a show of force? Where would our culture be without, "Show me the money!" Imagine Tom Cruise yelling, "Tell me the money." Doesn't work. Watch an old Tom Cruise movie.

6.) Avoid information dumps.
People have the attention span of an amoeba, so getting as much information to them is crucial. They need to learn right away that Trevor is a bisexual, narcissistic, red headed, thin, vegetarian, sensitive, kind, with a sharp pointed nose, serial killer.
Or how can the reader know that Heather is hiding in the cupboard off the mud room, on page, 256, unless you've described the house and each detail of each room, on pages 1-79? Dump it. Dump it all. Then get to the story. Eat a good sized bowl of ice cream.

7.) You need to start with a hook

This puts too much pressure on a reader. Think of a house. It starts with a foundation. Your story should too. Rather than have the terrorists blow up the daycare center, spend a few chapters describing how they bought the ingredients, made the bomb, rented the car, and dressed up like children to get inside and plant the explosives. Practice your speech, 'How I Got This Big This Fast.'  

8.) Stick to the story arc.

Oh, please! Mix it up, for crying out loud. People have read enough of a story that builds tension to a stunning climax, and sews everything up with a nice epilogue. Why not start with the epilogue? Its like foreshadowing, when your reader gets through the first seven chapters and says, "I have no idea where this book is going." Perfect. You've built tension. For a long time. Reward yourself. Shop online with the approaching royalty check.  

9.) You need to build a platform.

Politicians, missiles and offshore oil rigs need a platform, not you. Just write your excellent work, get it on Amazon, and once one person reads it, she tells ten friends, they tell ten, and so on. The time you've wasted building an audience will be better spent writing that sequel, assuaging the hunger of your ravenous fans. Run, dont walk to the end of the driveway. Wait for the check by the mailbox.

And now... the number one Fallacy of Writing:

10.) There's no money in writing.

Oh, please. Stephen King made $23 million last year. Nora Roberts uses hundred dollar bills instead of wash cloths. Jonathan Kellerman's chauffeur has his own chauffeur. You can too! Just avoid these fallacies. Any troubles? Email me at with your concerns. Now get writing... whenever you feel inspired to write, anyway. 

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