And today I’m going to teach you how to cripple your book so that—even if your plot is maximum overdrive and your characterization nothing short of brilliant—no one in the industry will touch it with a ten-foot pole.
You know what I did yesterday? To celebrate Father’s Day with my wonderful, hardworking husband? Twisted my ankle and wound up on the couch watching him cook his own dinner.
I told you June was going to be all about doing things backward.
So get busy and write wrong:
Model your writing on crap
Believe the uber-marketing hypesters who tell you, “The writing doesn’t matter”
Be in a hurry to get published
If the single best way to learn to write well is to study the literary canon with enormous care and all the intelligence you can muster to learn the techniques of the greats. . .that makes the single best way to learn to write wrong reading nothing but cheap modern crap and telling yourself, ‘If they can get away with that, I can get away with anything.’
Because writing is all about ‘what you can get away with,’ isn’t it? Heaven forbid it should be a highly-developed craft with a long and illustrious history of hard work, dedication, and sometimes real genius behind it.
It’s a slot machine!
Garbage in, garbage out.
So don’t waste your time actually learning how to write, people. The writing doesn’t matter. Throw your random, half-baked ideas into unpolished words—your ideas, your brilliant ideas that no one, not even the geniuses in the history of literature, ever, ever, ever thought of before—and shove them PDQ down the Golden Query Chute. And that deafening silence you get in reply? That just means they’re too busy shuffling through the mountains of shlock everyone else who doesn’t care about the writing keeps shoveling through their mail slots—they can’t recognize natural talent anymore when they see it.
It’s the era of entitlement! And you’re entitled to be rich and famous.
Don’t pause to learn how to write. You don’t have time. (Why not? I don’t know. But you don’t.) Just keep on shoveling. Someone’s bound to be young, inexperienced, and/or desperate enough to take you on. And after that—whoa!—it’s Easy Street.
Move over, J.K. Rowling.
And this is why it’s best to read only stuff being shoveled as fast as possible through the chute right now, this minute—because that will show you what sells.
No, you don’t have a famous name or a devoted following of hundreds of thousands or insider knowledge of how writing and modern publishing work, like the best sellers who—for business reasons of their own—often no longer have the time to polish their work properly before they publish it.
But you’re going to skip right over that little detail. What they do you can do.
Without their famous name. Or their reputation. Or their understanding of the craft and industry. Or their publisher. Or their agent. Or their mega-numbers of readers. I guess. . .
So, when in doubt, be sure to ramble on for pages in exposition, explaining your story in vague abstractions for that dimwit you expect to buy it (a fool and their money, yesirree), substitute noises you make up yourself for dialog (“Waaaghghghgh! Nngngng. Uh, dunno, duncare”), brand names for telling details (doesn’t everyone know brand names? I mean, we’re all glued to our shopping malls and TV commercials together, right?), and the verb ‘grab’ for every action you possibly can (“She grabbed the door, ran in the house and grabbed her keys, grabbed a Diet Coke from the fridge, and as she ran out he jumped out from behind the door and grabbed her”).
Your reader will get the general idea. Because these days readers don’t read books carefully, anyway, only buy them for the famous names on the covers (although you did, you admit, skip over that little detail). And since they’re reading standing in line to buy cheap plastic crap they don’t need, anyway, that’s all they care about.
Literature? It’s the twenty-first century, people! We don’t need no stinkin’ literature.
Next week we’ll learn how to revise wrong.
Naturally, none of this helps at all if we don’t know 9 Ways to Find the Time to Write.
Hi, my name is Victoria, and I have written mountains of shlock. But I didn’t publish it—not most of it, anyway—and I’m working to get better now, one day at a time.
UPDATE: Phyllis K. Twombly has added: Neglect Feedback; Ignore Concepts Within One’s Chosen Genre; Don’t Research