If you’re an aspiring writer, you probably already know all the
tips I’m about to give you, and feel free to point out their
absence in paid published work you could have written better by
banging your ass spastically on the keyboard of your woefully
obsolete computer. Unfortunately, you rarely if ever follow
these tips in your own writing, because you sense it’s already
wonderful. That’s a mistake, in more ways than one! Why not
print out this list of tips, tape it to the blunt end of a lawn
dart (PRINTED SIDE FACING THE POINT!) and drive it into your
forehead, metaphorically speaking! It will make your material
suck less, unless you don’t know what ‘metaphorical’ means, in
which case if the blinding pain doesn’t keep you from writing,
the blood flowing into your eyes will!
1.) VARY YOUR SENTENCE LENGTH (AND STRUCTURE)!
When you write, try to vary the length of your sentences. Some
should be short. Others should be long. Not like that last one.
That was short too. So was that one. And that one. See how bored
you are already? You need long sentences, too. No, longer. Crap,
that was even shorter. I can feel your attention wandering and I
haven’t even gotten to the part about structure, a far more
complicated matter than mere length, which is after all only the
word count between a capital letter and a period, but you’ve
already left before reading this gem, I’ve already blown it with
all those fucking short sentences. Oh, by the way, this tip is
also good for sex, but start with the long sentences. The ladies
will thank you. By the time I figured that out I couldn’t do a
long ‘sentence’ without popping Viagra like Pez.
2.) WRITE HONESTLY!
At the end of the day, only you know if you are lying. Everyone
else just assumes it. I mean, come on. It’s one thing when I
write about a life lived so far out on the edge it’s like a wet
leather sack full of booze, pills, women and ‘pimped out rides’
being dangled out a Penthouse window by someone with weak,
trembling arms, but you? If you wrote a book on philately I’d be
hard pressed to believe a single word. ‘Philately’. Philately!
Stamp collecting, okay? Jesus, you don’t even know the proper
name for it, so what are you doing writing about it? No one
wants to read your sad, pathetic, self-aggrandizing lies about
stamp collecting. Write what you know, for God’s sake!
3.) WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!
That’s what I meant when I said ‘Write Honestly’ in #2. It’s the
same thing, really, but here’s the rub. Are you itching to run
out and pick up a novel about taking ‘time off’ from college,
living with your folks, surfing for porn so hollow, generic and
pro forma you start crying before your lonely self-induced
orgasm is even over, periodically taking miserable little stabs
at writing something while ignoring guidelines even you know so
well they could be stuck to your head with a lawn dart? No? Then
don’t follow #3. No one does. No one published anyway.
Especially people who write ‘how to’ books. Fuckers. I’ll tell
you what all, if I ever find the guy that wrote ‘How To Design
and Install Your Own Patio” I will carve him a new fucking blow
hole, because that was one fella who did NOT know how to design
and create a Patio.
Put in a sex scene. If I were you I’d get straight to it, I’ve
read your stuff and honestly you better have something for me
before the end of the first page or the whole thing is going in
the ‘circular file’, know what I’m saying? The ‘circular file’?
There should probably be more than one woman in it, and somebody
ought to be reluctant about the whole scene. Oh, and young! One
of them ought to be really, really young. Don’t say how young
though, that can put you in a dicey legal situation, didn’t I
learn that the hard way. Look, I’ll give you a dollar a page, my
own stuff doesn’t do it for me anymore, no matter what I do I
can see it coming a friggin’ mile away. ‘Now that you’re
handcuffed, I’m a cop, here’s my badge.’ Yeah, like I didn’t
know that was gonna happen.
5.) BE ORIGINAL!!!
If I wanted to read Harry Potter Fan Fiction, I can check any
one of a very large number of web sites, and many of them are
sexier than anything you write. Ditto your science fiction piece
where the ‘Baptain’ of the ‘Benterprise’ beams down to a planet
full of ‘Bazis’ with is ‘Bulcan Bience Bofficer Bock.’ Changing
most of the first letters in someone else idea into ‘B’s’ will
never replace an idea that is truly your own.
6.) DO NOT OVERUSE EXCLAMATION POINTS!
What are you, a twelve-year-old girl? Should I just email you a
font where all the ‘i’s are dotted with hearts and call it a
7.) WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO READ!
Is ‘Sports’ the first section of the paper you read? That’s a
tough one; because there are lots and lots of really good sports
writers out there already. That is some serious competition.
What else do you like to read? Political thrillers? Can’t help
you there, I think that entire genre just sucks so much hose I
can’t even tell you, but listen, do what you- Science Fiction?
No. No. No. No. Do not. N-O-T not. You publish one thing, one
damn thing in science fiction or fantasy or any of that shit and
you will NEVER be allowed to publish anything anywhere else
EVER. Science fiction is a fucking literary lobster trap, it’s a
roach motel, you can check in, you got me? Plus it’s for cream
puffs. Seriously. Macramé? Seriously? Macramé? Who the fuck
wants to read about Macramé?
8.) A WRITER WRITES!
Quick, without thinking, what do you spend the most time doing
each day? HAH! You said TV didn’t you! But you spend the most
time a day sleeping! Wait. Wait. A day is twenty-four hours; you
sleep eight, that’s no most. Okay, so TV is right. A writer, my
friend, writes. If you were a violinist and you watched TV all
the fucking time instead of practicing the violin, you’d play a
shitty violin, everyone knows that! So why doesn’t writing have
the same respect! You know what I’m doing right now, Chumly?
WRITING! Well, not now. Maybe I am. I have no way of knowing.
But I was when I typed this, that’s for sure. If you are not BY
YOURSELF, ALONE, working on your damn craft, FUCK YOU! You want
a life, Mr. Social Guy? BE A PLUMBER! Word on the street is
plumbers work three hours a day and screw teenage girls the rest
of the time unless they’re doing coke! I’ll pee out the damn
window before I pay some asshole $175.00 an hour to show me his
9.) LIVE LIFE!
Okay, what I said about writing all the time? Don’t do that.
Because if you do all you’ll have to write about is writing and
if I have to read one more book about a writer writing I swear
to god I will eat the barrel of the nearest handgun. For God’s
sake, get out of your parents converted red room and do
something, anything, so you have something to write about. Climb
a mountain, Paint a masterpiece, break into a zoo and bone a
polar bear, it’s not up to me to live your life for you, but get
out there and BE A MAN! Unless you are, you know, like, a woman.
In which case please get in touch with me. I’m not particular.
10.) THINK FOR YOURSELF!
The last thing anyone wants to read is the trembling scrawl of
some pooper who couldn’t find his own ass without a map, a
shovel and a Sherpa guide. Why are you coming to me for advice?
Do you know me? For all you know this may be the only thing I’ve
ever written! Get out of here! Take a hike! Barp Bactor Bix,
Bief Bengineer Bottt! Stop reading this! I said stop! STOP!
You’re still reading this aren’t you? God damn it.