Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Advice for writers

Lately I've had a lot of messages (from kids & adults) asking for advice about writing.
I have lots of serious advice. Much of it is on my website, which I must update now that it seems more people are interested.
Advice about stories, about creativity, about the process...
But there are also a few things I wish more people knew - writers above all. And this is aimed mainly at the adults. Kids have a good excuse.
So here are a few things I can't say to aspiring writers when they want advice, but which I hope they will at some point come to know.

- the difference between 'disinterested' and 'uninterested'

- that 'enormousness' and 'enormity' are both good words but they mean very different things

- that there is never (or hardly ever) any need to use the word 'ominous'

- that there is definitely no need to ever use the word 'ominously'

- that to split an infinitive is fine, sometimes necessary and often the most elegant way of saying what you need to say

- that using 'less' when you need 'fewer' can drastically change the meaning of a sentence

- that it's OK to use an apostrophe for the plural of initials and numbers, such as, "There were very few DVD's in the 1940's."

- to use a singular verb after 'none', as in, 'None of us is perfect.'

Sometimes I'm tempted to say some of those things out loud, in an email or in a facebook message. Those are times when I must remember that it's the story that matters.

But of the 100's of people who commit these enormities, none of them is going to easily overcome the enormousness of the task of making me anything but uninterested. Are less educated writers getting touch with me, or are fewer educated writers getting in touch with me? Either way, it's ominous.   

1 comment:

NutmegAngel said...

I have to make a conscious effort not to correct people on facebook who use ill when they mean I'll, and well when they really mean we'll.