One Year of Writing All Wrong!

One whole year of Writing All Wrong! I’d make a celebratory cake for you all, but my baking skills range from the inept to the maladroit.

Instead, I’ll highlight some of the year’s most popular, hated, and engaging posts. Thank you very much for visiting, and I look forward to more of you picking up something here and putting it to use.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Without further ado: This Year’s (Completely Arbitrary) Top Ten of Writing All Wrong 

Forsaking Flash Fiction 

Because it’s by far the most hated, argued, loathed, and despised post in all of Writing All Wrong. It’s been accused of “missing the point” and being “clearly flawed.” I’m fine with opinions on opinions. But if you’re a flash fiction connoisseur, this is a must-read. It’s the only post on the interweb that argues against flash fiction, daring to go where no others are brave enough to tread.

You Don’t Need to Make Your Characters “Relatable”

Because all of the hits on this post come from people who are trying to make characters relatable, and nothing more. If you’re not questioning “why” things should or shouldn’t be done in writing, then you’re doing it wrong.

8 Things to Keep Out of Your Opening Sentence

Because you cannot afford to stumble right out of the gate. A bad enough opening sentence will close the door on your book before there’s a chance to crease its spine.

Block Writer’s Block

Because writer’s block is nothing more than a pothole that you dig yourself. It’s a disease suffered only by the “aspiring, wannabe” writer.

Ten Ways to Move from “Wannabe” Writer to “Writer”

Because you’re a fake if you continue to trumpet yourself as something you aren’t – a writer. NASA Weapons Engineer, NBA 3-Point Specialist, Pope: those are things you “aspire” to be. Not with writing. Off the duff and to the desk with you!

Writing Contest? Duh, WINNING!

Because writing contests are less about writing and more about attention. That is fact. But since they’re part of the ecosystem, it’s best you know how to play the game.

Like-for-Like

Because I had fun on this post, and I think the simile is an underused tool in fiction.

Incongruous Juxtaposition – Genre Combination and the Art of Mayhem

Because it’s funny, and you need to laugh.

Writing Group Therapy

Because . . . writing groups – ugh. They’re beyond redemption.

10 Questions Writers Must Ask Themselves

Because you need to be asking more questions of yourself. Calibrate that craft, and interrogate your instincts.

Here’s to another year of Writing All Wrong. Cheers.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

Writing Group Therapy

The writer’s best resources are the silence, the space to think, and the brass to put aside the need for coddling and constructive criticism. Meeting with other writers? Good idea, right? Not when it devolves into forcible agony of niceness, curling up in little balls, and coming out of the shell only when someone “plays nice” to you with your sorry writing. What should be a session of iron warring against iron becomes a farce, with many instead buying expensive light coffees, presenting mindless compliments, and tying cute little bows on pellets of turd.

This is how writing groups make you weak, your craft anemic.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Hi Mr. All Wrong,

What do you suggest by way of writing groups? I make it a point to share my writing snippets with fellow authors, but I have a hard time telling whether its productive or not. It’s like we don’t see eye to eye on much. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fun, but how do you get the most out of writing groups?

—Lauren Worley, Tigard, Ore.

Writing groups are like packs of dogs, wolves, or other assorted canids (like the flying blacktooth wilburfox). You have a ragtag group of followers under one alpha dog. But in writing groups, the alpha dog sticks his tail between his or her legs and starts acting like the omega dog, placating others and conceding far too much authority (“Oh, I love how your hero marries the heroine in the end! So romantic!”), shelving what needs to be said for what people want to hear.

Writing groups exist because most writers feel the need for validation and attention by leeching off of others who are just as needy for the same. Weak cycle is weak. In nature, your bad writing doesn’t deserve to be validated. Its jugular would be bitten, broken, shaken, torn out, and spat upon with bloody spittle. If your group is nothing but a therapy session, break out the wolf and make necessary edits as nature intended.

For starters, sniff out the natural alpha dog. This will be the person people look up to as the “most helpful writer,” probably the only one who forces a smile when he says, “That pioneer romance is a splendid idea! The saloon scene is so realistic and gritty.” They probably don’t have glaring errors in their writing, but if they’re letting this group continue, then you need to assert your dominance for the good of the pack.

Next, press the paw down on some throats:

“That story sucks. The narrative is trite, the characters wooden, and you use more clichés than would gag a whale shark. And you with the medieval fantasy? Can it. Fill up the moat with dirt and ransack that castle. That insipid mage bores me, and he’s going to put a sleeping spell on your reader if your reader was dumb enough to read this in the first place.”

Dominance acquired. If the pack leader moves to defend his mediocre sicklings, strike down his spineless writing and equally spineless leadership. Doesn’t matter if the people in Starbucks stare at you. You’re part of a revolution here. Defending the weak by keeping them weak is weak. That’s got to go. It might take a dozen well-placed stabs to their trachea with your No-Fat Chai Tea Skinny Latte straw, but it must be done.

As pack leader, you mustn’t tolerate this weak writing business. Either shape them up, or shape them out. Those who remain weak, discard. No more No-Milk Light Mocha Crappés at your table. Those who toughen up, embrace with firmness. They’ve submitted, but they must follow you in strength, forsaking needless coddling, striving to be better writers in their own right.

A cycle of strength to strength. That’s what you want in a group. Writers who go on to make other packs of strength. Writers who challenge your dominance. Writers who won’t object to punching holes in your throat when you start saying that someone’s flaccid noodle of a derivative mystery narrative is “ok.” Writers who will be violently honest.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and spotted in a forest leading a feared pack of writing wolves.