Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get out of that slushpile, what are you crazy?!?!?

Sure, these tips are gold, but they don't cover everything.

I give you

My 21 tips (apologies if I stole any)

1. Have you considered writing a sex scene or giving your protagonist large breasts?
2. Try adding Literary Ambiguity to your short story. If you are successful, your reader will always come away from your fiction with the ability to compare it to a film they once rented.
3. If your plot is too exciting or moving too fast, enhance realism by making your characters stop for a meal at an ethnic restaurant. Describe each course and allow your characters to re-cap the plot so far.
4. A well built character is one who refuses to change, regardless of the trauma he or she endures. Think: Rifleman or Mannix.
5. Do not write a single word unless you know how your story will end. You are the dungeon master.
6. Apply Epiphany directly to the forehead.
7. Trust your workshop peers. They aren’t in competition with you or anything, nor are they attempting to hijack your story to make it their own. Use all of their advice. Also, keep work-shopping a recalcitrant story for years.
8. Rashomon an insignificant event.
9. Heighten the emotional impact by making sure a kitten/puppy/baby is injured or killed by a Very Bad Person.
10. Leave it open-ended as to whether your point of view character is Insane.
11. Perhaps your story could use an erotic dimension involving a character with a very large penis.
12. Writing successful fiction is all about reinforcing separation between the classes: Definitely think in terms of Main Plot and Subplots. Organization is the key.
13. Write what you know, especially you white people out there.
14. Very Bad People are inherently interesting.
15. Last line=punch line. Seal that sucker off. Lock that story down.
16. Subtext means writing in code. Readers love to work hard at detecting what you really meant to say.
17. Italics, italics, italics. Especially for flashbacks.
18. Depression hurts everyone, so a story that is completely non-stop depressing—say a faithful chronicle of a terminal patient’s decline and death—is emotionally successful.
19. Children lead interesting lives and make wonderful point of view characters, mainly because they don’t know anything!
20. Make sure your readers know if your characters aren’t white.
21. Try writing a story from the point of view of an impossible object, like Dick Cheney’s hospital gown.


Ravi Mangla said...


I knew all my male characters were missing something. Now I know it's giant knockers.

Gyro said...

You are the dungeon master.

Damn straight.

Adam R said...


James Tadd Adcox said...

I often find it helpful to add the phrase "who was not white" after every mention of one of my non-white characters, because I like to make things as easy as possible for my readers. "Tom, who was not white, pruned his azaleas." And so forth.

dave said...

I try to put #1 and #11 together. Shazam! Literary gold.

An Unreliable Witness said...


I'm off to write a story in which a very large penis is seriously injured by a cute puppy.

Oh. Wait.

Pete said...

Combine #11 and #21, and you'll be able to sell 10,000 chapbooks at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Anonymous said...

Pete's comment is the best of the bunch. Damn.

Great stuff, LES. Great.

Awkward White Boy

Adam said...

Lock. That. Story. Down! Like a bank vault. You don't want anyone inside the vault.

Mark Doten said...

don't forget to include bracketed translations of spanish. for consistency, you must do this for *all* words and phrases, including "caliente" [hot], "seƱorita" [miss], and "taco" [taco].

pr said...

HAHA! Laura- we should team up and write a book - we'll be rich...

Unknown said...

Seriously funny.

Anonymous said...

I'm just impressed that you know who Rifleman and Mannix are. You are the Champion!

Josh said...

This is amazing.

Sam said...

While your rules are "rules" and thus far more entertaining, I might offer a counterpoint: http://ktvo.wordpress.com

Crispin Best said...

les is more

absolutely killer

OH said...

I personally enjoy arbitrarily combining #20 with the requisite #13.

Eeleen Lee said...

most writers don't realise they are the dungeon master

great post