Writing advice is everywhere.Just google "writing tips for characterisation" or "how to smash writers block" or "is Hulk hiding in India?" and you'll have a million articles to wade through. (I'm sure Google is how S.H.I.E.L.D finds me.)
How do you know what advice to take?
BUT. I do have a smashing suggestion: pay attention to the old writers' advice. Sometimes it's outdated (like Captain America's sense of humour), but there are gems in there you'd be bonkers to ignore.
I found this quote by George Orwell (interesting dude, that's for sure, who wrote lots of books the world liked to ban), and I think it makes some valid and writerly scientific points we should analyse:
1. What am I trying to say?Writers have a lot to say! Take me for instance: big, overgrown, green man, who's shy and awkward. Has about 4 quotable scenes in the Avengers movie. (It's okay. I'm not offended.) Of course I'd take up writing to get my side of the story out.
But what do I want to say?
Books shouldn't be sermons. They shouldn't be platforms for you to lecture either. No one likes to be lectured! (It makes them angry.) In my humble and strangely emerald opinion, books should entertain and make you think about topics from a different angel.
So what do you want to say in your book?Have you thought about it?
2. What words will express it?There are over a million words in the English language to pick from. You have to nab the right ones. No pressure!
But in writing? Only the best will do.
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?I like to think this refers to "voice" and "style". By all that's green, there are a LOT of styles to pick from.
For instance, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written in a letter style. These Broken Stars is dual narrated but still in 1st person. The Gallagher Girls series is written very informally (like a conversation) with lists and articles. Shatter Me is full of pages of crossed out words.
And how many voices are there?! The character can be spunky or pessimistic or sarcastic or sweet or factual or scatter-brained or informal or uneducated or --
There are a lot of voices and styles.
4. Is the image fresh enough to have an effect?This is the GOLDEN question. Whenever I get a new story idea, I have to decide if the setting and theme have been over-done. This is difficult! I Hulk out occasionally over stewing about this topic.
I believe any story, no matter how much the premise has been written, CAN be worthwhile -- so long as you make it fresh.
For instance, there are a lot of zombie books out there. Is it possible to write a fresh zombie book? Heck yeah.
Reboot portrays zombies as super soldiers (maybe Captain America is actually a zombie?? Just throwing thoughts around, peoples, don't get offended). Something Strange and Deadly goes back to the root of zombies and uses a necromancer to control them. Contaminated rehabilitates zombies into society.
They've picked an over used premise (zombies) and made it fresh and unique.
As writers, it's an excellent exercise to ask ourselves these questions.They're particularly important when you're rewriting and editing. First drafts? I always advise first-drafters to abandon the internet and JUST WRITE. Once you're done and ready to whip your manuscript into shape, that's when you start eating all the advice.
Now if you'll pardon me, I'm off to my anger management classes.
-- Hulk / Bruce Banner