Sh*t from Shinola


If you’re like me, you spent most of Monday watching Hurricane Sandy pummel the east coast. Every image of flooded streets or burning power lines emblazoned itself into your retinas. The problem was, not all those pictures were real. The one above, for example, combined a photo of New York’s harbor with a storm over Nebraska. But it sure looks good.

When you’re first starting out as a writer, you stumble across a lot writing advice, and a lot of it sure looks good. Some it is good advice–for its writer. It’s real to them, just like that tornado was real for the Nebraskans the year it was taken. But that advice might not be good for you. And some it was good advice a long time ago. Times change, formats change, editors change. Old information can be more harmful than helpful.

But how can you tell the good advice from the bad? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get your information from reliable, up-to-date sources. If you’re writing genre fiction, one of the best places for advice and updates is definitely the SFWA website. After all, they exist to help writers! No one would pay dues to an organization that repeatedly led their members astray.
  • Go to writing/genre conventions and listen to panels. Most conventions feature people who are successful in their field, and since a panel will have multiple presenters, the panelists will often screen their information for you. Sure, sometimes it turns into bickering, but it’s kind of fun to watch your writing heroes get into each others faces!
  • Read blogs of industry professionals. Find out who won awards in your genres and then see what they have to say. They might not offer a lot of good advice, but they just might point you in a worthwhile direction!
  • Read and read and read and keep looking for more books to read on the topic of writing.

What about you? Do you have any favorite resources for writing advice? Ever have a bad experience brought on by erroneous writing information?

Can you tell sh*t from Shinola?

 PS: John Remy and I will be at Orycon this weekend! If you’re going to be at the con, come see us! We’ll have Inkpunks buttons…


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  1. TMC
    31/10/2012 at 5:06 pm Permalink

    Be weary of critique groups. I’ve come to realize that most members are novice writers, and the advice/suggestions they offer is not always good nor professional.There comes a time when a good critique partner or two is better suited. Just wish I could find one.


  1. Galen Smith 13/11/2012 at 10:23 pm

    Galen Smith liked this on Facebook.

  2. Inkpunks 30/12/2012 at 6:29 pm

    Inkpunks liked this on Facebook.