DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
Not only as a creative writer but as an overall human being, I always find it helpful to circumnavigate what not to do in terms of avoiding any mistakes or flaws. In the case of creative writing, those flaws can come in the forms of clichés, bland characterization, and self-aggrandizement.
J. P. Beaubien is an author of the “Aeon Legion” book. He also has a YouTube channel titled “Terrible Writing Advice” where he makes sarcastic videos detailing the “importance” of how to write in all the wrong ways. His videos consist of still animations, with himself being inserted as a character with the happy face emoji. His background as a highly rated author is enough to convince anyone to watch his videos.
He does not narrowly discuss one genre, rather he includes all literary genres. Whether in fantasy, post-apocalyptic, war, or science fiction, no book is safe from the dreaded love triangle, which is one of many clichés that Beaubien discusses. The pitfalls that can come with writing in any genre can undermine the protagonist’s legitimacy and seriousness of the conflict.
Another theme that Beaubien sets forth within his sarcastic series is for writers to distance themselves from their protagonists in order to remain impartial to the struggles that they may endure. This is especially important when establishing that the protagonist is not an avatar for the writers to insert their moral righteousness upon the other characters as well as the reader.
In fact, not only does he focus on the writers’ stories, but on the writers themselves. Making the writers set their priorities is important for their own writing, whether it has to do with writer’s block or spreading the word about their work. Beaubien gets into detail about the relationship the writer has with potential readers, beta readers, and everyone else. A notable part of his videos, which I found my favorite, is when his own personal animation, stands next to a giant, green question mark, puts his hand upon his chin, and goes off-character and ponders about the consequences of writing a particular theme or character. Such as, making orcs inherently evil, attending a magic school as a period of learning experience, or making the Dark Lord see himself in the hero.
He has directly talked to the audience in one serious video about how to handle clichés and how they are interpreted. It mainly has to do with the writers’ relationship with the reading audience and about how to turn their expectations on their heads and keeping them interested in the story.
Along with appealing to the creative intelligence, Beaubien also appeals to the humor of the audience. I think that any writer is going to take a lot of information of what NOT to do from Beaubien’s videos. Indeed, I myself have noticed a major flaw in my own writing routine. In order to enjoy the “Terrible Writing Advice” means finding the meaning within the sarcasm of J. P. Beaubien’s videos.