“It just needs a little tightening.”
I’m at a round table critique and the person to my right has just been given one of my least favorite pieces of advice. This tip is right up there with “show don’t tell,” which, as a wise editor just pointed out to me, is impossible since all storytelling is telling.
“Okay,” the writer responds and nods like she understands. What else can she do? I’m sure the vagueness of the critique will hit her when she gets home and starts trying to revise. “Tighten where?” she’ll think. “Cut? Or add more? To which part? Develop a character or remove some of the characterization details?”
I’ll likely write off whatever the critiquer says about my piece. With that one word, shejust rendered her advice useless.
What is the worst piece of advice, writing or otherwise, you’ve ever gotten? Did you turn it around and make it work for you? If so, how?