Advice: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It was the best of advice; it was the worst of advice.

Authors are often asked what advice they would give aspiring writers, but at Monday night’s Red Hen literary salon at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, moderator Janet Fitch turned the tables by asking her panelists, “What was the worst piece of writing advice you ever got?”

Mots Justes will start compiling answers to both these questions, starting with the replies offered Monday night.

Best

“The best thing anyone told me was that you’re going to get humiliated and you’re going to get humiliated again and you’re going to get humiliated more and when you think they can’t humiliate you any more, they do. But keep writing, produce something good, and they’re all going to come running. Because the world needs good writing and good books.” —Charles Bock, Beautiful Children (Red Hen at the Geffen: Coast to Coast, September 29, 2008)

Worst

“[I’ve participated in a lot of writing groups, and after awhile I discovered there was] more talking about writing [than writing]. I got tired of experts. We are a country of bullies and experts. You see it on [writers’] faces that they’ve been working. There’s a little fist in their heart.” —Ron Carlson, Five Skies (Red Hen at the Geffen: Coast to Coast, September 29, 2008)

“To pay a lot of attention to the dramatic arc. Do your characters get redemption in the end, or do they reject it? It’s annoying. But I think you have to understand it. You have to know the rules in order to break them. That focus on the dramatic arc is distracting.” —Greg Sanders, Motel Girl (Red Hen at the Geffen: Coast to Coast, September 29, 2008)

Caught in the ’Net

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has set the blogosphere abuzz, not only among the politically but also the grammatically minded. Slate diagrammed her sentences. Conjugate Visits analyzed her and Joe Biden’s grammar in last night’s debate. And Daily Kos posted Wordles from the debate transcript.

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