Examples of Bad Writing Advice Provided on Absolute Write

As it says.

This thread is for posting concrete examples of actual bad advice given to writers on Absolute Write. Please provide a link to the bad advice in your post.  Bad advice can cover fiction craft, market, and whatever else.

Since we've included this post as evidence that Absolute Write claims of serving writers good advice on writing fiction is blatantly, and at times even laughably false, we've received scores of emails thanking us. We're happy that at least some writers have been spared the futility and embarrassment, and of course, spared the circumstances that might have allowed them to be bullied and publicly trashed by Absolute Write mods, members or owners (as so many have for so many years).

Look at Them
The overall situation at Absolute Write can be summed up best by a few of the writers who commented below and gave their time to help spread the warning to everyone:
  • You'd be surprised how many young writers aren't well read...aren't really "read" at all. That does make it difficult for them to have any clue what they're doing when they're just starting out. But I get your point, and I agree, AW's advice is amateurish at best and downright harmful at worst.

  • Look at it very simply: hundreds of untrained writers on Absolute Write Water Cooler posting hundreds of posts on the topic of writing novels, fiction, whatever, and no one with any real savvy in the fiction arts stepping in to say no, no, no, that's not the way it works. Of course you're going to get stupid commentary every where you look. It's just inevitable given the set up.

  • How am I supposed to take career advice seriously from someone called SuperModerator, when I can’t tell if they’ve ever published anything? I asked a specific question, and when I questioned politely but firmly the uninformed and negative advice an anonymous writer gave, she harangued and condescended like a fishwife. On another thread, she jumped into a productive discussion and tongue lashed not only me, but every contributor!

  • I tried to offer editorial guidance in the fiction forums there, but trying to be heard over the perpetual howl and drone issuing from dozens and dozens of amateur writers hurling "advice" at each other is completely impossible. Futile. Like a bunch of chipmunks chattering about constructing an airplane. Just won't work!... All in all, it was a terrible experience. I came to see it that on the whole the Absolute Write forums are an arena of juveniles acting out their fantasies and retaliatory urges on a continuing basis while honestly trying to give each other writer advice, and all the while watched over by people who are just mean spirited and unethical.

  • Lisa Spangenberg posted her credentials on the Writer Beware thread. She has a doctorate in English, helped write and publish tech manuals. None of this qualifies her to give advice to fiction writers and poets, or novel writers, but this is what she does.
In other words, the very nature of Absolute Write makes it next to impossible to ever be sure you are getting decent writing advice. When you combine moderator and owner bullies with scores of amateurs all babbling and posturing about like immature kids, this is what happens.

THE ABSOLUTE WRITE STORE


If there was ever an attempt at subtle deception, it's the collection of Amazon-sold books on a store set up by Spangenberg. Are we led to assume that AW played a role in getting these writers "published"? Are we led to believe that hundreds of amateur writers chattering on the Water Cooler banged enough keys to properly enable these success stories? Possibly. The owners lead us to that conclusion in more than one way on the AW forums. However, upon closer examination, the assumption proves unfounded.

Several of the authors like Strauss and Elrod were editing and publishing independent of AW. They both have affiliations with the owners Spangenberg and Stone (Sherman)--Elrod advertises her editorial business on AW and Strauss advertises her novels in thousands of posts on Absolute Write Water Cooler. The bulk of the store titles are by self-published or e-published (half a rung above self-published) writers, and that's odd considering the enormous amount of time the mods and owners have spent flaying self-publishers (but as it turns out, these were self-publishers who were not officially in the owner's camp or else they ran afoul of the owner's incessant wrath for whatever reason).

Btw, we recommend trying out the Elrod book, but steer clear of Strauss unless you like juvenile fantasy lacking imagination. The Stacia Kane books, btw, are ho-hum and even fans grow fatigued with the predictable story lines. And speaking of Victoria Strauss, it's fun to talk about her self-serving and stupid HATERS GONNA HATE diatribe transparently designed to make the scores of critics and victims of Absolute Write look like one super troll.

ACCORDING TO RANKRETS.COM, ABSOLUTEWRITE.COM
VALUE HAS PLUMMETED TO $38,087.00.

Relevant Links



33 comments:

  1. I'm glad someone posted this. All you have to do is go to their very first forum on the subject of "learning to plot" to witness bad amateur advice by misdirected writers who live their lives on Absolute Write. As follows, by someone named Libby:

    "I use the "write notes on cards, then shuffle them to mess with order" technique and it works well for me."

    THIS IS ADVICE ON HOW TO PLOT? JUST SHUFFLE CARDS AND SOMEHOW THIS WILL HELP YOU WRITE A MASTERFUL COMMERCIAL PLOT?

    "As for plot, my suggestion is that you write the story -- all of the story; whatever wants to come out of you -- and not worry about plot for now. "

    BUT THE STORY IS THE PLOT IS THE STORY. IF YOU HAVE ZERO IDEA WHAT YOUR PLOT IS ABOUT THEN YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE AN IDEA HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CHARACTERS OR LAY DOWN PLOT POINTS AND REVERSALS IN A MANNER THAT MUST BE ENERGETIC AND PRECISELY PACED.

    "Once you've finished the story, go back and write a synopsis by summarizing each chapter in a paragraph or less."

    A SYNOPSIS OF WHAT? THE PLOT-LESS NOVEL?

    "Then edit your synopsis down into a two-page document. You will have to cut out a lot of deadwood in order to pare it down to two pages. Whatever you cut from your synopsis (because it wasn't important enough to convey the very most important ideas/actions in your story), cut out of the manuscript as well, and then rewrite to make sure all the gaps are bridged."

    OKAY, THEN YOU HAVE A PLOT ... OMG! OBVIOUSLY THIS TECHNIQUE HAS WORKED FOR LIBBY SINCE SHE IS SUCH A WELL PUBLISHED AUTHOR ... AHEM.

    Absolute Write.

    How can anyone take this place seriously? It's filled with off-the-cuff dumb commentary like this by people who don't know what they're talking about.

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  2. In the topic known as "Editing a novel" some of the locals are chiming in with a mixture of poor and mediocre advice. One of them makes a reference in the opening to Amanda Patterson's editing tips, and they are very basic and much more related to nonfiction, for example, she says "stick to one voice" which is way too broad of a tip for fiction authors:

    http://amandaonwriting.tumblr.com/post/64030151862

    A new writer might see this and the damage is done. The tips fail to note anything in the area of advanced craft that editors are keen on, nothing re description, show don't tell technique, and so forth.

    Again, basic nonfiction editing tips in the novel topic.

    Dumb.

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    1. It is, and even the most newbie of moderator should have caught this.

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  3. Nothing surprising about any of this considering the owner operators are not writers at all, but horse boarders and hoof fixers. It's rather surreal actually.

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  4. Given the alleged reps of the moderators, you would think they would moderate all these posts filled with bad advice, but they don't. They're too busy trashing everyone. That's more fun, after all.

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    1. They can't moderate because they aren't fiction writers or editors! Or else they're too foolish or apathetic. If this wasn't the case, you would have stable moderation by people with a semblance of brain.

      Delete
    2. On the Writer Beware thread started by Victoria Strauss called "Haters Gonna Hate" both Melodi Sherman and Lisa Spangenberg state their qualifications for running a website for fiction writers and poets. They have no qualifications whatsoever.

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  5. I like this advice by Lisa Spangenberg on one of the Amazon forums. Especially the part about moving your lips when you read: http://www.amazon.com/gp/communities/search/ref=cm_cd_search_basic?cdQuery=fortunate&cdPage=1&goBtn.x=0&goBtn.y=0&cdThread=Tx2CY2O6KKI502S

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  6. Learning Writing With Uncle Jim

    I just scanned the first page of his bogus writing workshop on Absolute Write, and only the most dull-witted and trusting of newbie writer could possibly go for this.

    See comments by him below. The first one here, he plays God and redefines in the dumbest way imaginable how to define a novel. I had to see this to believe it!

    "Okay, and after that pompous lead off, let me say that I'm not going to be talking about novels at all. I'm going to be talking about romances.

    Not romances in the Fabio-on-the-cover paperbacks, not the Romance section at Borders, not Harlequin (though there'll be things useful in that genre). Not category romance, or genre romance.

    I'm talking about romance in literary theory.

    A novel is: A book length work of realistic prose fiction.

    A romance is: A book length prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious.

    What??????

    ---------------------

    Next, his stupidly simplistic 25 steps to becoming a published author. He takes the most rudimentary things and stretches them out to 25, not even including something as basic as LEARN YOUR CRAFT or KNOW YOUR MARKET before you start writing!

    There are twenty-five simple steps to becoming a published author.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Black ink on white paper.
    2. Place your name and address in the top left-hand corner of the first page.
    3. Place the title and byline, centered, half-way down the first page.
    4. Put a running head (your name, the title, and a page number) in the top right hand corner of every page.
    5. Your pages should have one-inch margins.
    6. Doublespace your text.
    7. Use Courier 10 or Courier 12 only.
    8. Type on one side of the paper only.
    9. Continue until you reach "The End."
    10. Rewrite.
    11. Rewrite.
    12.....21. Revise
    22. Obtain the guidelines for a market that accepts material similar to what you have finished.
    23. Follow the guidelines scrupulously when you submit your material.
    24. While you are waiting for your rejection slip, start again back at step 1 for your next work.
    25. When the rejection slip arrives, send the manuscript to the next market on your list, that same day.

    He's trying to be funny, in a way, but it's a huge time wasting bunch of bullets he is spitting out. What an ass, no kidding. I'm beginning to believe he is actually senile.

    -----------

    HE IS DEMANDING COURIER FONT!!! Didn't that go out with Hemingway, or James D. Macdonald.

    However, when you print out your book to submit to a commercial publisher, you shall print it out in 10 or 12 point Courier.
    Uncle Jim's Writing Class at Absolute Write.

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    1. From Babs Stevens, a professional who really tried to help writers on the Absolute Write Water Cooler and was trashed by AW members and mods for her efforts. In her own words:

      "I tried to offer editorial guidance in the fiction forums there, but trying to be heard over the perpetual howl and drone issuing from dozens and dozens of amateur writers hurling "advice" at each other is completely impossible. Futile. Like a bunch of chipmunks chattering about constructing an airplane. Just won't work!

      All in all, it was a terrible experience. I came to see it that on the whole the Absolute Write forums are an arena of juveniles acting out their fantasies and retaliatory urges on a continuing basis while honestly trying to give each other writer advice, and all the while watched over by people who are just mean spirited and unethical.

      This is just my opinion based on my own awful experience there. Others do seem to have had a different experience, but when I see a member post on Internet they never would have been published without Absolute Write, I investigate further and see that they self-published."

      Comment thread of writeabsolutereviews.blogspot.com/2015/06/insightful-reviews-of-ipredators-on.html

      Delete
  7. Don't trust this novel forum place for one second. It's 90% ignorant and 10% juvenile:

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=2

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  8. http://184.168.82.237/forums/showthread.php?p=8954528

    Lambs to the slaughter. They actually believe they are getting solid advice on Absolute Write from other amateur icons and a crabby backshooter like James D. Macdonald. About as solid as an anvil falling on their heads. Look at the moderator dressed up like a transformer razor head. How does this person have time to seriously write if he's making tens of thousands of posts on a forum board? And why would a forum board that markets itself as giving good advice to writers be moderated by people who obviously are not writing? I'm sorry. I love SF but I won't take at face value anything these people say. I see gaping holes in their logic and crazy stupid commentary everywhere I look.

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  9. Look at it very simply: hundreds of untrained writers on Absolute Write Water Cooler posting hundreds of posts on the topic of writing novels, fiction, whatever, and no one with any real savvy in the fiction arts stepping in to say no, no, no, that's not the way it works. Of course you're going to get stupid commentary every where you look. It's just inevitable given the set up.

    Then you have a writer like Macdonald looking sharp in comparison.

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    1. An absolutely right viewpoint. Good context. Thank you for this post. Please write us backchannel if you wish.

      Delete
  10. People who prepare prospective doctors should be able to demonstrate that they are successful doctors themselves. Similarly for lawyers, engineers, accountants, carpenters, plumbers, teachers. etc. Can the people at AW who offer to prepare novelists demonstrate that they are successful novelists themselves.? Look at their sales.

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    1. Lisa Spangenberg posted her credentials on the Writer Beware thread. She has a doctorate in English, helped write and publish tech manuals. None of this qualifies her to give advice to fiction writers and poets, or novel writers, but this is what she does.

      Delete
  11. And all the examples of advice like "you should read more books." What kind of idiot logic is this? Why do they just automatically assume people asking questions don't read books? I've gotten more specific help from other writing boards.

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    1. You'd be surprised how many young writers aren't well read...aren't really "read" at all. That does make it difficult for them to have any clue what they're doing when they're just starting out. But I get your point, and I agree, AW's advice is amateurish at best and downright harmful at worst. They actually believe in that idiotic "hook 'em in the first sentence" BS. As though every story or novel must begin with some overly clever observation that's never actually clever.

      Delete
    2. Actually one example was when I got a crit on my science fiction story. Even though I had never labelled it hard science fiction (anyone who has read 80s cyberpunk knows -- that is not hard SF) this one guy said "you can't hide your identity in a cell phone, there is caller I.D.!

      *cough It's kind companies that don't want to reveal their identity.

      Gasp, that's not even competent science knowledge, let alone science fiction critique.:/

      As someone growing up on Neuromancer.

      Delete
  12. I think the reason "you should read more books" bugs me, is more often it's to promote their own book rather than actually promote reading in general. For example:

    1. You should read every book you can find.
    2. Please avoid reading the classics.

    Do they realize how many classics are out there, and those in fact go all the way to the nineteen nineties? If I read every book I can find, I would not even be able to get to the book they are promoting.

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  13. There is way to many example of bad advice, but here is a particularly prominent one. Every so often I'll encounter someone who says that books shouldn't have poems at the front of every novel or short story?

    OK fair if they dislike it. My question is, this is according to their taste? Or are they siting this as a grammar rule? Which isn't necessarily as similar as they might sound.

    Let's not forget, Lewis Carol has one in the front of his book Alice In Wonderland. Oh and to boot, none of his books have ever gone out of print. An adult fiction example (also a classic) The Sheep Look Up. Also has a poem at the beginning of the novel.

    To me it just sounds like sour grapes about poetry.

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    1. I love John Brunner.

      Their grammatical advice is the worst. In my time there, I tried my damnedest to encourage the writers who were clearly just getting their feet wet to play with language, try different things they normally wouldn't and figure out for themselves that they can do whatever they want with language. Of course, the AW Gestapo would unfailingly drown me out with stock weekend workshop talking points. I always felt vindicated when people would send me private messages to thank me for the advice--they certainly couldn't have acknowledged me in the threads.

      Delete
  14. I've been reading AW Forums for years and never -- ever -- did I even glance at their writing advice. That's not why anyone should primarily go to said site: it's instead for getting tips about agencies. Agencies that have conflicts of interests, unqualified agents, and other helpful-to-know tips in that regard. Ignore their other sections on writing advice --other websites are filled with useful sites (to a degree) on that and other sources. I don't have a problem in your cautioning folks about AW having some unuseful, or yes, even misleading posts about fiction writing. But that's not what AW is renowned for. And to overlook their oft-useful author's experiences (good and bad) submitting to various agencies would do a disservice if you don't also admit that, including that it's one of the few places such frank discussions (albeit caveat emptor) about so many agencies is available.

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    1. Thank you for this comment. I don't think anyone here has said that all the advice on AW is worthless. We agree with most of what you're saying, However, unless and until the mods and owners completely change their predisposition for ganging up on anyone who doesn't go along with their rash assumption s and bullying blood baths, we recommend taking all with a huge grain of salt. The atmosphere is overwhelmingly negative and much of the chatter is ill-informed and juvenile.

      Delete
    2. Concerned CitizenJuly 15, 2015 at 7:49 AM

      http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/absolutewritecom-got-a-lot-of-bad-advice-c751605.html

      Lured on the advice of Victoria to participate in the hubbub of bad advice on Absolute Write.

      Delete
  15. Here is a good point from the Dark Markets post by Rosie:

    "How am I supposed to take career advice seriously from someone called SuperModerator, when I can’t tell if they’ve ever published anything?

    I asked a specific question, and when I questioned politely but firmly the uninformed and negative advice an anonymous writer gave, she harangued and condescended like a fishwife. On another thread, she jumped into a productive discussion and tongue lashed not only me, but every contributor! Lord, it must’ve taken her half an hour just to quote every single one of us LOL

    It was a ludicrous critique: she said we “had to” provide evidence for everything we said. This, immediately after telling me one of her pets doesn’t have to provide any, and I am rude for asking.

    Who the hell puts up with this? WHY would you? Neither would I trust advice from people who would submit to this BS."

    Precisely. Why would anyone take the advice offered in the type of immature environment you find on Absolute Write forums?

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  16. I wrote a post that exposed the bad advice given to self-published authors, and was banned. You can read the post here.

    http://careymartell.com/2016/01/promote-book-like-intelligent-human-unlike-lisa-l-spangenberg-macallister-absolute-write-watercooler/

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  17. The butthurt from failed writers is strong on this website.

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  18. "I know that as a new author I wasted tons of time taking bad advice from these ladies, and I know other authors who did, too."

    http://careymartell.com/2016/01/promote-book-like-intelligent-human-unlike-lisa-l-spangenberg-macallister-absolute-write-watercooler/

    ReplyDelete
  19. Absolute Write Great Advice

    The dragon person loves mixing third person and first, notes where it's been done successfully, and makes the mistake of asking opinions. Hopefully she sees zero value from those who can't name a single specific novel they dislike for mixing viewpoints. Not one of the consulted notes that third person often bridges to first person narrative with italics and other devices. They forgot about that, I guess. Pretty crucial.

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  20. Absolute Write has been a cyberbullying site for, literally ,decades. I doubt they are being taken seriously by the industry any longer, although they were for quite some time and damaged a lot of people's lives in their wake. I remember that skank Jenna Glatzer advocating under some pseudonym or other that her readers should go cut off the testicles of a literary agent she did not like. Their young readers will find as they age that the site has no accountability. What goes around will surely come around to them, and the sooner the better!!!

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