If you haven’t noticed, I’m a writer. I only bring that up because it took a while to give myself the label. It’s funny what you can call a hobby. What is a hobby anyway, and when does a specific activity stop being one? ‘Hobby’ sounds like a disease, some kind of growth. Well, in that respect, maybe it’s not too different from writing after all…
Well, owing to my massive success in the writing profession, I thought I would undertake a truly magnanimous bit of public service – offering rules for writers. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are Trent P. Lewin’s key writing rules for fiction:
1. Adjectives. Use them. Abuse them. Saturate every sentence with them. I need to know that the cat is equal parts perky, firm and smooth. Oh wait, I think I was talking about breasts there… that I might need to know.
2. Don’t ever produce an ending! No no, please. Refrain. If you actually end one of your stories, you are giving away the farm. Much better to keep people guessing, and not offer anything resembling closure. They will appreciate this and praise you for your mysterious greatness.
3. Stick phantom sentences into your writing to make sure people are paying attention (add ‘schmack’ to your comment to prove that you read this whole post). If someone doesn’t follow your subliminal commands, skewer them with your writing wit.
4. On that note, never add humour to your writing! Be somber, be serious at all times, and don’t ever come close to the point where someone might think your characters are fun. Let’s take some frowns. Let’s make them bigger. Come on people, this isn’t rocket science.
5. Write what you know. This one’s key. You’ve heard it before, so do it. People want to hear about your commute to work. How you put out the garbage. What the delicate bouquet of a week-old diaper hidden under the couch smells like. Your rash. Your rash’s rash. Why you hate radish. Why the radish has a rash. Why the radish that has a rash has a rash that… I’ll stop now. The point is, don’t ever write about something totally outside your experience just because you are able to exert the sheer will and creativity to imagine it, for that would be a lie. I mean, does anyone believe that JRR Tolkien was anything but a hobbit with a magic ring? Or that J.K. Rowling could possibly not be a witch?
6. Bow to the horrors of writers’ block. Treat it like a medical disease, an incurable, recurrent affliction that incapacitates your ability to be creative. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that you haven’t been sleeping enough. Or that you’re under the weather. Or stressed out your gourd by your day job. Or so busy that you have approximately three minutes a day to put pen to paper. Or that you just finished a several-day bender in Las Vegas that included multiple episodes of streaking and now you have no underwear.
7. Concentrate on marketing your writing before you’ve actually produced anything marketable. I’m sure publishers and the like love your wonderful statistics more than they do a quality piece of writing (okay, okay, marketing’s important but don’t put the anus before the sphincter, if you know what I mean).
8. Refrain from sex while writing your novel. I’m serious. No sex until you’re done. You are a temple of writing purity, unsoiled by worldly temptation. Keep it like that. There is no way that an important, occasionally beautiful physical act that can sporadically be mutually-satisfying can expose a thread of joy in your writing. Or, you know, make for some hot love scenes… ummm, excuse me, I’ll be right back…
9. Buy books on how to write fiction. Read them. Follow their advice. Build a tall shrine out of them. Don’t burn them. Don’t set that tower ablaze and dance around it in your Trent P. Lewin-brand pin-less loin cloth as you explore the wonders and incredible depth of your humanity and what you can pull out of your own mind and make true, following in the ages-old wonder of the storytelling traditions that have been passed down every generation since anything resembling humankind has existed.
10. Don’t write long fiction. Don’t you dare. Don’t read it, either, especially if it’s by a first-time author. You don’t want to be or to know a new voice. You don’t want complex narratives that involve multiple characters. Nope, you want six-hundred word bites, chewy things that don’t get stuck in your teeth. You want disposable. Quick. You want to skim, and nothing less will do.
11. Make highly sarcastic lists of writing rules, especially when no one has ever really heard of you and you break all of your own rules. But it sure is better than spending the time scratching yourself, so there is that.
Cheers, folks. Keep writing. You can do it.