Q&A: What is Your Most Chaotic Piece of Writing Advice? - Tor/Forge Blog

Q&A: What is Your Most Chaotic Piece of Writing Advice?

Another day, another chaotic question for our Chaos and Cosmos authors! This time, we are asking them about their favorite craft—writing! To all you aspiring authors, check out their most fiercely chaotic answers below. Do you FEEL THE INSPIRATION YET!?!?!?

What is your most chaotic piece of writing advice?


Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun

Don’t write toward the market hoping to catch the trend of the moment. Trends come and go. It’s difficult if not impossible to hit a trend’s surging wave rather than its collapsing fall. Write the story you’re passionate about. Some of my novels were published at a time when they ran counter to the market and suffered for it while others hit at a surge and did well. The main thing is: I don’t regret writing a single one because they were all projects written from the heart. 

Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Relentless Moon

Delete every third line of dialogue and then rewrite the interstitial text so that it still makes sense.

S. A. Hunt, author of I Come With Knives

Throw out your outline. Have characters make decisions that they as real people would naturally make and follow them down a rabbit hole. Write yourself into a corner and then bust a hole in the wall to get out. You’d be surprised what kind of life-changing twists you can come up with when you’re not coloring by numbers.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Trouble the Saints

Let everyone get precisely what they want.


Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

Listen and strictly adhere to everything you’re told about how to write! That’s good, right?


Kit Rocha, author of Deal with the Devil

Fear is the mind-killer. (No, really. It’ll mess you up. Jump off that keyboard and believe you can fly.)

Jenn Lyons, author of The Memory of Souls

There are no rules, only guidelines. Everyone’s prepared to hand out a thousand rules for how to write. For every single one of them, there’s a great work which takes that rule and vigorously snaps it in half. Break the rules! Just make sure you do so with skill and panache.

Andrea Hairston, author of Master of Poisons

Everything I write is fine, good, because tomorrow I can rewrite. Every draft is a rehearsal.

Christopher Paolini, author of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Don’t be afraid to throw out any or all of your story if it’s not working. When it comes to writing, you have to be ruthless in your creative decisions. Don’t fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy.

S. L. Huang, author of Burning Roses

Burn the rules. There are no rules.

Also, always write while wearing a hat shaped like a pineapple.


Cory Doctorow, author of Attack Surface

Write when you feel miserable and all the words are terrible, because you won’t know until after the fact and how you feel about the words is far more related to your blood sugar, stress levels, anxiety than the quality of your words. And then the corollary of that is that days when you feel like you’re writing really well, you’re probably also writing just more or less okay stuff, because that’s also related to your anxiety, stress levels, and blood sugar, so it makes writing very aniconic but it does make your writing very regular, a bit like fiber.

V. E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

My most chaotic piece of writing advice is it’s going to be bad. You’re going to write something and it’s going to be bad, it has to be bad because you have to write something before you can make it better. So, understanding that whatever you write has to be bad before it can be good, and you almost have to embrace that chaos a little bit.

Stay tuned for more #ChaosandCosmos all year long!