Creative Writinger: The Tale of Bettering Your Writing to Be Creatively (A Sequel)
Consider this an addendum to my first piece on this subject. I make no claim to be a brilliant or even proficient writer (too many of the latter lack the quality of being the former) but I do claim to see through gimmickry.
- Your plot should revolve around a college student drinking at a party. He or she should relate to another student by drinking an obscure brand of beer together. They should talk about rock music and/or your favorite writer, and then your story is done.
- Your story should completely stop in its tracks to describe an unimportant character or thing in graphic detail. Your character should have ADD in the worst way. Bonus points if the object or person causes an epiphany of some kind. It should sound something like this:
“Dude, you going to that party tonight?” he said.
James heard him, but looked off to the right where there was a shrub being blown by the wind. He thought about how many times the gardener had cut down the shrub, how many gusts of wind it had endured, and how many times it had frozen over and thawed, and then remembered how the world had always moved on, and then he looked back over at Jim.
“No,” he said.
- If you feel that your “he prognosticated”s and “she stipulated”s are starting to become silly, superfluous, and trite, be sure to add “and”s or “as”s after the “said.” Example:
“Yeah” he said as his smile seemed to wane a bit, moving his hand up to scratch his nose when the snow fell on it from the power lines above that he had remembered from his childhood.
- If you’re writing in the first person, don’t let the reader know anything about the main character until he or she says it aloud, thus negating the point of writing this way.
- Your characters should be two-dimensional stereotypes with no substance whatsoever. Make sure the abusive husband is absolutely insane and will kill his wife with a chainsaw if he ever gets the chance. The wife should be meek and accepting until she finally stands up for herself against her beer-swilling beefhead husband (This is also known as the “Lifetime movie of the week rule.”) Characters should be artsy and weird if they are art majors and straight-laced and conservative if they are business majors. Artsy people should smoke. Conservative people should in no way understand artsy people. Everybody fits in one of those two categories.
- Your own personal issues should absolutely be played on paper, in whatever form you feel most appropriate, including having your snotty good-for-nothing got-everything-he-wanted brother go to Hell, torturing the boys you thought hit on you (or those you thought should have hit on you), or having your abusive relative die a horrible death. These are all things I’ve read in real stories, no joke.
- Your main character should be passive. He or she should have the action happen to them in the story. Do not have them do anything. At the upper limit, they should do four physical actions during the entire story (yes, I’ve actually read this).
- You need only reference your really deep metaphor twice during the narrative: at the beginning and at the end. Then we can all have the “so that’s why she grew okra!” moment at the end. (No really, okra was the metaphor in one story. It was a science fiction story.)
- If you’re female, all male characters should either be sexist pervert jackasses or brilliant suave gentlemen. The path of your female protagonist should be to get from point A, the sexist pervert jackass, to point B, the brilliant suave gentleman. They will always get to point B. If you’re a man, don’t you dare stereotype women. That makes you a sexist pervert jackass.
- Your characters, no matter how financially secure they are, no matter their social position, no matter their personal philosophical or religious beliefs, should be miserable in every aspect of their lives. They should never compare their financial position to that of a starving kid in Africa, tell themselves to buck up, and then fix and/or move on with their lives. Instead, they should wallow in self-pity and have a small revelation at the end about how something that they do is actually really important.