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Genre Targeting and Virtue Signalling?

In the world of writing, there have been a number of both social and technological changes which have led to quite an increase in the number of new writers out there.

Now, let's start by saying that we don't consider this a bad thing; more power to everyone, live your dream, my friends, vivé le revolucion!

I am, after all, one of this legion of the soon to be unbelievably famous and successful authors, belovéd and read by millions across the world. I actually am, believe me, it's not going to happen if I don't believe that..

There are, however, a number of trends which have followed in the wake of this great rampantness of writers (I think I might use that one again somewhere; Group Noun, a Rampantness of Writers....I also love the alliteration) which I consider to be less salubrious;

The Rules of Writing

There have emerged a number of "experts" who are advising the new influx of aspiring writers, helping them along what is actually quite a difficult and disorienting path for many. A helping hand is always welcome, especially for those who feel they lack experience.

In my experience, most of these rules are, to be frank, utter tosh. They are useful guidelines but not the ironclad Commandments they are represented as being by many. Let me tackle them one at a time;

  1. Show Don't Tell; Let's be honest, it is our job to spin a narrative, make the possibly mundane exciting and the tale engaging to our readers, this is a given. Nobody is born with the ability to write tight and lead the audience. Some of us have a talent and a skill for it but we all need practise and improvement. We don't need to describe every movement or facial expression our character has in painstaking detail. We need to use our descriptive skills, there's no question of that but we do not want to be Charles Dickens! We're not getting paid by the word like he was, we don't need to make an essay fit the word count. In writing it is about Quality not Quantity. Too much description will kill the pacing of an action scene, for example.

  2. Never Use Passive Voice; It has been suggested, it has been made clear, it is often alluded to and, most of all, avoided. Alright, I think that's quite enough of that for now! My point is that passive voice, like anything, is fine in moderation. Passive voice can be used to express certain moods and sarcasm if used well.

  3. Avoid Adverbs and Adjectives; they're a part of the language and exist for a reason. To completely avoid them would be suspiciously conspicuous in the sparsity of adverbs. Adverbs are tools and clever word choice makes smarter writing and you can, with a well chosen adverb, replace an entire paragraph of useless fluff.

  4. Don't write in Fragments; Why not? Look at Captain Kirk. He's funny. People do not tend to speak in complete and correct sentences unless they're in court or trying to impress someone. Fragments are also useful for speeding up the pace or expressing such emotions of fear and confusion. They are useful in combat scenes especially in my experience. I use them and Grammarly scolds me for it often, as does Word's grammar check. I ignore such protests and write as I know works.

  5. Avoid! Exclamation! Points!; </