Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Utah Book Month: Michelle D. Argyle

In honor of Utah Book Month, I'm spotlighting Utah author Michelle D. Argyle, who writes YA and NA. She was kind enough to offer us her top 10 bits of advice for writers. Without further ado, here's Michelle:


1. Read as much as you can. I used to have to fight for ideas until I began reading a novel every weekend. Taking off two days out of every week just to read has been a lifesaver for my sanity, my writing, and for finding new ideas to work with. I believe reading is the lifeblood of writing. You don't have to read a novel a weekend, of course, but I highly recommend trying to make as much time for reading as you do for writing.

2. Produce quantity. I'm a firm believer that the more you write, the better you will get. Quantity produces quality. Do not be afraid to write eight novels before you publish one novel. Do not be afraid to write crap in order to get better. It's probably not a great idea to spend all your precious time on one magnificent masterpiece, because more than likely, it's not a masterpiece if it's the only thing you've written.

3. Do not be afraid to delete. I wish I’d realized sooner how possible it is to delete sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters, the entire book, and just rewrite stuff without fear. I would have saved myself a lot of time – all those months, even years in some instances, stewing about whether or not a specific scene or word or way I wrote the book was worth keeping. If you end up rewriting it the same way, it’s meant to stay.

4. Learn to ignore. All feedback is opinions and subjective viewpoints. Learn to ignore what doesn't work for you. I used to think I had to consider and at least try all the feedback I received. Luckily, that is not the case anymore, and that has sped up my process. I’ve also learned how to ignore a lot of online distractions. This has not been easy.

5. Trust yourself. Nobody can do what you’re doing as well as you do it. Nobody. Trusting yourself, closing your eyes to the naysayers (that includes statistics), and just being you and doing what you love is the most important thing. Ever. Period. Just keep writing and trust yourself to do it.

6. You do not have to be inspired to write great things. You do have to work hard. Showing up is the most important thing.

7. Try not to hoard. Annie Dillard said it best: "Do not hoard what seems good for a later place ... Something more will arise for later. Something better."

8. If possible, spill the beans. Beware of building suspense by hiding information from your readers and revealing it at the last second. This can be a cheap form of tension. Stop. Ask yourself if revealing that huge secret might create an even richer, more organic form of tension.

9. Abandon perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect novel. Perfect to one reader, perhaps, but not to everyone. Accept that your storytelling is beautifully flawed and filled with your own rich, human imperfection.

10. Rules? What rules? Creative writing is called creative writing for a reason. The only rules you should be keeping outside of readable grammar are the ones you've discovered work for you and your writing. Of course, that can only come with lots of reading and writing. See beginning of this list.


Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She adores cheese, chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in the time she grabs between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life. Michelle writes contemporary Young Adult and New Adult fiction (and other genres when she feels like it). To date, she has had four novels published.



  1. Thanks for having me over here, Cindy! And thanks, Scott! Some of them I've learned from you. :)

  2. This is excellent writing advice, exactly what I needed to read today : )

  3. Great advice! I don't write fiction, but I write a lot for work, and I think that first one is very key. Read read read!

  4. I love these tips! It's true about the quantity - the longer I blog the better my writing and my ability to express myself has gotten. And I like that hard work can trump inspiration. Great post :)

  5. Excellent advice, all of it. Thanks for sharing.