I started blogging almost a year ago, not long after I started working on my WiP—my first attempt at writing a story. In that time, I've made great connections with other bloggers and writers, and I've learned a lot about the craft that I didn't know before. For the most part, it's been pretty fantastic. I say "for the most part" because it hasn't always made me feel better about my writing. That sounds kind of awful, so let me elaborate.
What do you do when ENCOURAGEMENT/WELL-MEANT ADVICE feels DISCOURAGING?
Say what? As you well know, one of the best things about the writing community is the tremendous amount of support and encouragement shared between writers. Unlike other pursuits, you won't find nasty competition, I'll-scratch-your-back...ultimatums, or sour grapes when other writers get agents/book deals/rave reviews/whathaveyou. Along with all of this support, there's plenty of advice to be had. While most of it is good, and maybe what you need to hear, sometimes it's exactly what you don't want to hear. Take, for example, the following. (My reactions are in red.):
• Prologues suck. Delete them. Really? I've read some pretty good ones. Statistical Probability...* anyone?
• Love triangles suck. Avoid them. Again: Really? I've read some pretty good ones. They can serve a purpose.
• InstaLove sucks, but so does InstaLoathe. What exactly is the right timeline then? Please enlighten me.
• Dystopian is so over, as is Paranormal. Really? Because people I know are still reading both. Me included.
• You'll never sell your first story. But keep at it. That really doesn't make me want to, but thanks...I think.
• Your story should be standalone even if it's part of a trilogy. That's funny, because I've read many that weren't—Divergent, Delirium, Everneath, Shatter Me, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Daughter of Smoke and Bone... just to name a whole super heavy backpack full of books. And there are oodles* more like them.
• Do, do, do. Don't, don't, don't. All meant to be helpful, but not always encouraging or inspiring.
Because what if your story has a prologue? A love triangle? Is dystopian or paranormal? What if this is your first story? And it has a cliffhanger? What then? I know this bulleted list is mostly all opinion (sometimes I guess they reflect market statistics—I've always hated Stats). Or it's well-meaning advice. But all too often I feel like I want to scream when I read them. And then I want to go and crumple up my WiP into a giant ball (though that would be challenging considering it's 120,000 words long*** O_o) and say "screw this shiz".
And then, after QWERTY-facing and belittling myself far more than I deserve, I start to feel a little like this:
At some point, I just have to remind myself to write the story I want to tell, and if it gets published, great. If it doesn't, that sucks, but I'll just keep on trying. And all of that advice and/or opinion? That's all it is. There's no 100% definitive way to write a story, otherwise everyone could do it and every story would feel the same.
And who the heck wants that?
* The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith—I ♥ the prologue!
** Yes, I did just use the word oodle. Oodle, oodle, oodle.
*** Yes, I'm trying to fix that. Delete, delete, delete.