Wednesday, January 11, 2012

There ARE Wrong Ways

So, I had reason to be thinking about parenting this afternoon and how lots of people handle different parenting situations in different ways and that lots of times it's hard to objectively say that there's one right way. But that's not the same as saying that there's no such thing as a wrong way. Reasonable people can differ on something like exactly what age it's OK to let a child walk half a block down a quiet suburban street to a friend's house. (And, in fact, it would be hard to argue that there was an exact age that you could say for this for all kids. Some kids might be ready to do this at age Y, others at age Y+2.)

But, if you're still walking your child down to their friend's house five houses down and they're sixteen years old and there isn't some major mitigating factor, you're probably being overprotective, right? Similarly, if you've got a four year old, letting them go scampering along a busy thoroughfare unprotected is also probably not such a hot idea.

Just because there isn't one right answer does not mean that there are no wrong answers. And -- OK, you probably saw where I was going here -- this applies to writing, too.

There are all sorts of things in writing where there isn't a definitive right way. Some people are fine as "pantsers" (writing without much planning in advance) others are fine as "plotters." Some other people can work either way with ease.

But there are things that you can do as a writer where you really are "doing it wrong" -- ignoring the guidelines for submission to a publisher, for one thing. Blatantly ripping off another story, even if it's not to the level of plagiarism, it might be hard to sell something too much like another novel and might disappoint readers. (And, yes, I know that there are some people who've made quite the career off of treading a fine line there...)

There are other, subtler, things that you can do wrong. Doubting your work to the extent that you don't even try submitting it. Ignoring a pattern of comments in critiques on your work. Etc.

Remembering that there isn't one single correct way to go about writing is important. But don't let that philosophy turn into one that justifies any type of behavior. There may be more than one right way, there often is. But there are also wrong ways.


  1. Great post and very true as Krista has stated.

    Following you....Follow me...

    Have a great 2012...