Writing advice on Threads


He starts this way:

The one thing that you have to know is, the algorithm really does rule all — which means that when someone has a WEIRD IDEA or a CONTROVERSIAL TAKE, people responding to it or quoting it for “the dunk” instantly help that thing spread. The system is designed to see fire, and when you say, “Hey, look, fire,” the robot then pours gasoline on it.

(The robot is not here to help.)

As such, you tend to get just truly nonsense ideas about writing and publishing — bizarre opinions and worse, absolutely batfuck advice, often given by people who would seem to have little to no actual credit in the writing and publishing space. It’s like asking driving directions from someone on a different continent.

This is funny, and of course I immediately wonder what opinions and advice he has in mind. He doesn’t give specific examples — that is, he makes up his own:

You’ll be scrolling through Threads and you’ll see someone say, like, “If a sentence has more than one comma, it’s a bad sentence.” Or, “Agents don’t really read queries; the only way to get an agent’s attention is to enter their home at night through a pet door, and leave your manuscript in the refrigerator, topped with origami rose petals made with Post-It notes, scented with your zesty authorial pheromones.” Or, “You can’t have potatoes in science-fiction.” … And then, then, all day long you get Comma Discourse, or Don’t Stalk Agents Rejoinders, or Fiery Debate Over Sci-Fi Potatoes. 

And I have to admit, I did chuckle a couple of times, although I winced too, because I can very easily imagine earnest writing advice making the rounds: If a sentence has more than one comma, it’s a bad sentence. That sounds just like the sort of Earnest Writing Advice (tm) that gets passed around in writers’ groups, then takes on a life of its own, and for the next fifty years people think there’s some rule about not having more than one comma per sentence because somehow they don’t notice that in the real world, real authors pour those little curvy suckers into sentences by the bucketful.

Anyway, Chuck then proffers writing advice of his own. Here is a selection of my favorites:

1. Write the thing you wanna write. … Life is short and art is weird so go on and lean into it.

4. Don’t kill all your darlings. Darlings are nice. We all deserve our darlings.

6. There’s a lot of [writing] advice out there. It’s all bullshit. [That was a comma, but I’m truncating this one at the point I feel a period should occur.]

7. When your process is failing you, change your process.

9. Your writing, your story, isn’t a product, it isn’t quote-unquote “content.” … Writing and storytelling is art.

Twenty-five total, many longer. I mean, I cut all these short too, but some are longish paragraphs.

I’m not on Threads because good Lord above, who has the time? I do Facebook a very tiny amount and Twitter (OR WHATEVER) less than that and Bluesky less still, meaning maybe a few minutes per week, and that’s it. I do not want to be bombarded by political outrage OR by the deaths of much-beloved pets, and sometimes I see three or four “my much-beloved pet just died” posts within a minute after starting to scroll through social media and I understand posting about that (really!) and I always leave a sympathetic comment (of course!), but jeez. But I’m semi-tempted to join Threads [no, not really — ed.] just for the wacky writing advice.

I don’t check Chuck Wendig’s blog very often either, but he certainly can be funny.

Also, don’t kill your darlings. Darlings are nice. We all deserve our darlings.

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