You know what I just thought of, while editing my Snow-White and Red-Rose retelling? Writing advice is always a little strange, quite a bit of give-and-take, since everyone has different styles and a lot of people effectively break the rules and create wonderful stuff. I’ve always taken the “Writing Rules” as general guidelines, but I realized that some of them are actually a little contradictory, thus proving that they’re definitely not to be considered set in stone.
The rule that particularly caught me as I worked was the one about adverbs. I understand the basis for the rule: relying to heavily on adverbs (and adjectives for that matter) leads to lazy, lazy writing and doesn’t allow for a rich prose or a hard-hitting description that get you right in the gut. Sometimes, though, a good sturdy adverb is what best conveys the message, so I’m sure most people will agree that adverbs are best when used sparingly. Right?
Yet there’s another “rule” that suggests the best writing is writing that says the most in the fewest words. Clear and concise, no rambling on about useless words, every word has a purpose. Wouldn’t it seem that the easiest way to say something in “as few words as possible” be using adverts and adjectives? I’m sure there are nuances to this guideline, that I’m simplifying it a great deal, but it does make you wonder. On the one hand, we’re supposed to “show, don’t tell,” nixing adverbs for a more complete experience, yet, at the same time, we need to be say things in the most direct way possible. Which just may include using adverbs.
So which is it? What is your take on these writing guidelines? For me, I think it really depends on personal style and the story you’re trying to tell. I’m a huge fan of gothic 19th century works, where rambling on and infusing the page with flowery purple prose is part of the appeal and the reason I love them. I’m also astounded and giddy about writers like David Sedaris (he pops to mind first because I’m currently reading