Stupid Writing Advice – Shining Your Words

Submission guidelines are a treasure trove of stupid writing advice. I don’t remember which journal this came from, but it struck me as particularly stupid:

“Make each word shine off the page.”

Wow. Really?

I can shine shoes. If I were telepathic, I could shine like Scatman Crothers in The Shining. The sun shines on my face. Things that distract me in the store are shiny. But how does a word come to shine? How do I polish it? Or should I wax it? Buff it?

But Jason, they didn’t mean it literally. Yes, it’s obviously a metaphor. But for what? By what mechanism of writing can a word be made to shine, metaphorically speaking. What nuance of language makes a word “shine?”

Does every word really need to shine? What about articles? How do you make the words “the” or “a” shine? If you can’t shine them, should you just not use them?

Maybe each word of writing advice should shine off the page.

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