Anyone else feeling crippled by idiom upon axiom of dubious, seemingly contradictory writing advice?
“Yes!” they said loudly.
Don’t use too many adverbs.
“Yes!” they proclaimed.
Don’t use synonyms for “said.”
“Yes!” they said in a loud manner.
Show, don’t tell.
“Yes!” There was a flurry of head nodding among the group.
“To be” verbs are clunky and slow down your action.
“Yes!” They nodded vigorously.
Don’t use too many adverbs!
“Yes!” They nodded with vigor.
Don’t forget the tension in your scene.
“Yes!” While nodding with vigor, they turned to see a tyrannosaurus rex stomp into the room.
Don’t spring unbelievable plot twists on your unsuspecting audience.
Vary your sentence structure, but don’t make sentences too long. Use interesting and varied language, but don’t use words that send your reader to a dictionary. Use dialogue to improve characterization, but don’t spend time on mundane conversations. Show details, but don’t bog down the story with unnecessary information. Provide back story to make your characters three dimensional—but don’t do it in the first chapter! Talk about weather; it creates ambience. Don’t talk about weather; it’s gratuitous. Use research to add veracity, but don’t put too much into the story. Show your writing to someone, but don’t show it to someone who likes you too much to tell you the truth. Write without revising. You’re not finished until you revise. Forget about your audience; write for yourself. Never forget your audience!
“Yes!” they proclaimed vigorously in a loud manner while they were running away from the fifty-foot-tall inner editor monster that was stomping on libraries and bookstores and the futures of every writer who ever thought “maybe I could . . .”
No wonder writer’s block exists.