We all have our particular writing heroes. When those heroes give out free writing advice, we tend to listen.
One of my favorite pieces of advice came from Bruce Coville, author of Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, My Teacher is an Alien, and dozens and dozens of short stories I adored as a preteen. A while back, I came upon this blog post in which someone from Upstart Crow Literary got some advice from Bruce Coville.
This bit of advice was something even Bruce himself had found elsewhere, but it resonated with me a great deal. It's called "The Rule of Twenty." The basic concept is that it's only when we reach the twentieth idea that we're reaching truly original territory. When we're thinking up character names, or plotting, or trying to plan twists, our brains will naturally go to the easy and familiar. This is the stuff that's been done a million times, that's cliched and boring. We have to reach past the first five or ten ideas into the deeper stuff; the stuff that the audience won't see coming. I love that.
Another writer who I feel gives amazing advice is Neil Gaiman. He's just... something else, man. From where writers get their ideas to how to write a book, he's got a quippy-yet-poignant answer for anything.
One of my favorites from him: "Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."
What's your favorite-ever piece of writing advice? Who gave it to you?