Does good writing advice come with good books?

Posted: October 31, 2013 in reading, writing
Tags: , , ,

I’ve finally started reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books. I’ve been listening to his advice on Writing Excuses for years, so it made sense to read his books, to see how that advice pans out.

Plus my brother is reading them, and it’ll give us something other than Game of Thrones to talk about. (According to our nearest and dearest, we discuss GoT too much. To which I say, how can you have too much awesome?)

OK, maybe it was too much for Sean Bean

OK, maybe it was too much for Sean Bean

So far I’m enjoying the first Mistborn book. This is good, as I don’t like to give up on books part way through, and this one’s over six hundred pages long. But the whole situation raised an awkward question – do you have to enjoy someone’s writing to think that their writing advice is good?

There are two sides to this. On the one hand, doing something well is a different skill from analysing and explaining it well. On the other hand, given that there are many different approaches to writing, shouldn’t you be using ones that shape the literature you enjoy?

I remain ambivalent on the subject. For me, pretty much any writing advice is worth thinking about, and in many cases trying at least once. I don’t want to be the next Elmore Leonard, but there’s some good advice in his ten rules. Same for most writers, I’m sure.

So what do you think? Does your favourite advice come from your favourite authors? How do you pick the best advice? Leave your advice on this below.

  1. skudssister says:

    I’m not much of a writer myself but I can see the sense of the writing advice given by Hugh Howey And the Silo series are some of the best books I have read in the past year……

  2. […] told, and I got to the end despite its epic length. This comes as a relief, given how much I like Sanderson’s writing advice – I’d have had a lot of re-learning to do if one of my favourite writing guides turned […]

  3. Rabindranauth says:

    Most definitely. If you pay close attention, you can pick up a lot of small nuances, minor things that separates a debut author from a veteran. I actually have a book I make the occasional note of stuff in as I read books and notice these minor details.

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