Things they never teach you

Writing advice books tend to go into great detail on things like how to structure your plot, or develop character, or describe things, or whatever.

They do not — in my limited experience; hence this post — bother to say much about how to decide where to break chapters, scenes, or paragraphs, apart from telling you to start a new paragraph if you’re switching speakers in dialogue. Maybe a vague nod at “cliffhangers are exciting!,” but that’s about it. You’re just supposed to figure that stuff out as you go, apparently. Or else (and this is entirely possible) it never occurred to the writer of the writing advice book that there’s an actual skill buried in there.

But I haven’t read a huge number of writing advice books, so I’m perfectly willing to believe that someone out there has at some point unpacked this stuff for the reader. Any recs? Because it’s one of those things that I do instinctively, without much ability to articulate how the decision-making process goes — and since I enjoy teaching writing, being able to articulate it would be useful.

3 Responses to “Things they never teach you”

  1. Kat Feete

    I have a mild writing book addiction, and the only time I’ve seen this tackled in any helpful way is Patricia Wrede’s LEGO theory:

    (The post series is collected in her Wrede On Writing book; she gets to paragraphs around Part Seven).

    I’d love to hear another point of view, though. There are so very many ways to write — and yeah, we *can* keep mucking along figuring it out as we go, or we can *learn* from other people. I know which I prefer.

    • swantower

      Thanks for that link! It doesn’t hit all the things I’m looking for, but it at least wanders in that direction, which is more than I can say for most writing advice I’ve seen.

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