A lot of writing advice is bad??? [discussion/rant thing]

Okay, so, this is a thought that I’ve been having since editing.

It’s not completely fleshed out. It’s more like a rant. I’ve been feeling frustrated with writing advice online.

Show don’t tell.

Write engaging characters. Let the characters drive the story.

Write what matters.

How to write a good hook…looking at the great hooks of the century! (or something like this)

and…other general writing advice, always seems to be a bit of fluff?

People say “show don’t tell”, but on top of many misunderstanding what it actually means, they don’t show what they mean. Or if they do, they don’t break down how it is showing or telling.

What does it mean to actually show?

You can say, “the sun was shining” or say “the warmth touched her cheeks as she gazed at the sky, shielding her eyes with her free hand…” (sorry, that was mediocre writing, but you get it XD )

And they end the advice there.

That’s how you show and tell! :grinning: Yay.

Idk about you, but I need to have things broken down and explained to me exactly HOW it’s done. How do you get from “the sun was shining” to all that stuff? What is the thought process?

No one says it.

The characters drive the story. The characters matter. Write what matters. Here’s how to write a good hook with examples (but we’re only going to show you examples and not exactly how to write it, and these are all polished books in contrast to your draft).

They explain why, sure, but only the, “fluff stuff” is what I like to call it, because they’re not actually explaining.

I could tell you how to draw a cat. You draw a circle and two triangles and two dots. There, a cat. But can you draw a cat? No. I don’t think you can. Because I didn’t tell you where the triangles or dots go. I didn’t tell you how big everything has to be in relation to the others.

A LOT of writing advice I come across on YouTube or the internet, is mostly this kind of surface-level fluff stuff. They don’t actually get down into the gritty details and explain.

Because of this, I think, okay, I know how to do this thing, and I go do it, but then I’m unable to. I struggle and struggle and struggle… It doesn’t work. Then I might even go down a weird path and get a whole lot of writer’s block.

In conclusion, a lot of writing advice is bad (note that I didn’t say “all writing advice is bad” because there are, obviously, good ones).

Is this just me?


A lot of people who give certain pieces of advice actually don’t know what it means, and this is coming from personal experience. They see that it’s said a lot, so they think, “If it’s a popular piece of advice, that means it’s right then, right?” Nope.

I learned this the hard way because it wasn’t until I dug my way through the craft of storytelling and writing when I found out that you actually do have to tell in your story, and that when people say “show, don’t tell” they don’t understand what it means. You can definitely tell that they don’t understand it simply by reading what they say. If they only say that and don’t explain what it is, you know that you can skip their so-called advice. And that goes for any advice.

It’s why when I give advice, I get detailed and thorough, because I know these writers are just trying to learn and they can’t if nothing is explained to them… with examples.

I think the advice is good, like writing engaging characters, have a good hook, etc., so not inherently bad, but the problem is not having anything explained. If you’re looking for advice and someone says, “You need to have a good hook to get your readers interested in your story,” and then don’t say anything after, it’s advice that is good… but should be ignored by that person because they didn’t explain how you can do that.

This is why I like to tell people, “Ignore the opinionated advice.” Advice is opinionated for the most part, yes. But you have opinions from a writer or reader that are personal opinions, and then there’s opinions from a writer who has been writing for a long time and has taken years to learn about how to write a story. You can tell which comes from which type of person. Like, someone who says, “Your beginning isn’t that strong. I wasn’t really pulled into the story and got confused. You should make it more exciting and not confusing.” Comes from a personal opinion. But someone who says, “The beginning doesn’t exactly entice the reader. There’s some interesting parts, but it begins too slowly with (whatever scene). It may work a lot better if you revise it so (this other scene) is closer to the beginning as that’s where the story actually kicks off…” so on and so forth, comes from someone who has actually learned about how to make a beginning entice the reader and is now teaching that same thing to this person.


Yes it’s mostly–if not all–pretty bad advice. I just focus on writing the story I want to read. I stopped listening to critiques I received online and my writing is a lot better for it. Same with writing advice from videos on social media platforms. No offense to those people. It’s just personally not helpful for me. I also read a lot of books on writing fiction and I take bits and pieces of what I learn from them to develop my own process and style. I also stopped caring about writing for “readers” and I started writing solely for myself. The voicing is stronger in my prose and it’s vastly improved. I care more about writing a story I can call “mine” rather than writing something that’s a mess of what people think my story should be, even if it’s not successful in the end.

However I still seek out reviews from various people through Wattpad and Inkitt to gauge how my story performs e.g. what age group understands it best, can it be marketed to x and y groups of people, etc. When they give me writing advice through and tell me how it should be written, usually I don’t take it into account because it’s wrong on most-if not all-occasions.

I know that sounds offensive to them and I’m not belittling their intelligence but at the end of the day I am the only one who can write my stories and I know what’s best for them. There are people in my personal critique groups who I turn to for true feedback because I trust them and have a professional relationship with them, much like a writer and their publisher might have. Since that scenario is virtually impossible these days, a critique group of authors you respect is the next best thing.

That’s my two cents on the matter.


I deleted my initial reply because it became a massive rant and I’m tired. I don’t want to start a fight with anyone.

Its been more obvious in more digestable media like writing ro comedy, that there is a 1 size fits all menatality to comedy.

And as much as people don’t like getting into Bill Cosby, he’s the only one who really expounded on why he made it so big.

Before him, comedy had a Yiddish pacing that used sight gags, slapstick and stinging insults. Mel Brooks is good example of this style of comedy.

With Cosby came storytelling humor. Garison Keilor is a very dry verson of the same thing.
Brittish humor went towards absurdism around the same time.
And really after such a growth in all these forms it seems like everything has reverted to cracking up at potty humor.

A lot of writing advice is done in such a way as to squash diversity in story styles. It makes our books more alike than different. If we can thrive well in our field with the advice, then its good. If we can’t its bad advice.

This is extremely subjective.


I like “show don’t tell.” I like the substance of the advice, but I don’t think it’s always explained very well. I’m in the legal field and we use this principle a lot as a persuasive technique.


I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: it’s all about examples. But these so-called writing experts don’t seem to read much, and the only examples they ever give, if any, are from their own books instead of from famous, well-written books. A half dozen examples of an issue from famous books would sure be useful. Which just goes to show that no matter how many authortubers there are, there are never enough since I still need one who uses such examples. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


I think it might be because, while there are writing rules, you can break them whenever you want/need. And the people giving that advice often don’t know that

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The problem is, they do (especially when you look online, it’s usually all the recent best sellers and some famous classics), but they don’t explain exactly why and how these are good examples. They give examples and leave it at that.

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The funniest thing is they literally don’t take their own advice. They are telling and not showing. Always found it amusing how when you google ‘writing advice’ ten articles with the same advice, examples, and structure pop up but not a one can tell you what the actual advice means. Nonsense. They’re like: Look how [insert popular book here] did it. Yep. This is an example. Did I mention it was by [popular author]??? The bestseller??? Because you should really take this non-explicit advice!!!


Exactly what I’ve felt and had been seeing. Makes me frustrated. Because it certainly didn’t help me and I doubt it would help a beginner writer.