Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Advice for the Easily Distracted

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but some poor, misguided spambot (Updated, 1/25: turns out it wasn't a bot at all; my apologies, Brittany) has nominated me for a Top Writing Blog Award at eCollegeFinder. I don't have all the details yet, but I thought I'd serve up some actual writing advice before they start the selection process. You know, so it looks like I know what I'm doing.

We live in a short-attention span society, so I won't bore you by droning on and on about my tips and techniques and proper grammar. I can bore you just as easily by condensing my advice into bite-sized nuggets:
  1. I can tell you how to finish your book in one word: time management.1
     
  2. Don't use amateurnouns. Your readers will notice.
     
  3. After spicing up your novel a bit by mixing in metaphors, set it aside for a while so the plot may thicken.
     
  4. Omit words.2
     
  5. When writing non-fiction, be vicious with your punctuation:
    • Cut long passages down to size by using bullets.
    • To get rid of extraneous content, drop it with a dagger.†
    • In order to fit a bunch of people into a smaller space, slash them repeatedly.
      (e.g. Axl/Izzy/Duff/Steven)
     
  6. To ensure your prose is flawless, always use the perfect tense.
     
  7. No matter how wonderful a passage or phrase sounds, it's worthless if it doesn't advance the story. As Sir Arthur Quiller-Coach said, "Murder your Darlings. Especially if you're J.M. Barrie, because then you have a Peter Pan Murder Mystery on your hands."
     
  8. Writers, take proper care of your colons: Otherwise, all that follows will be a painful mess.
     
  9. Even if you do your writing on a computer, you need your BIC PEN. (Butt In Chair, Persistently Evading the 'Net)
     
  10. Use short sentences for action scenes. It moves the narrative along.
    Use long sentences for flowery prose, 20-page research papers, lists of moderate to great length, and convicted murderers.
     
  11. Sentence fragments. Useful in moderation. Really.
     
  12. And I'll end with a few examples of properly used punctuation:
    • Why would you ask me? (Question Mark)
    • She won't say why she's so moody. (Period)
    • Don't interrupt me. Anyway, I've got to— (Dash)

That'll do it for now. And remember: Writing is a journey. Don't stop believing.


1 And as that statement proves, reading and writing are essential to your success, but arithmetic is not.
2 The original advice from Strunk and White's Elements of Style was "Omit needless words." I thought needless unnecessary.
† What did I tell you? This content isn't useful at all.

30 comments:

  1. Not to imply your blog isn't an excellent writing resource, because I really do love it, but that eCollege finder whatever email is most likely spam. Every blogger I know got one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm sure it was spam. But it did make me realize I hadn't given writing advice (or whatever the equivalent of "advice" is on my blog) for some time now. I've inserted the word "spambot" into my post to make it more clear the jig is up.

      Anyway, thanks for the compliment!

      Delete
  2. I agree with Matthew - however, you just might win with this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alex. If I get the silly blog award, so be it. In my mind I've already won, just by entertaining people with this post.

      Delete
  3. You're a winner in my book, Nate. Of course, my book isn't quite published yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's that? You made me a character in your WIP? Excellent! Remember, you have creative license, so you can give me a full head of hair.

      Delete
  4. #11. Hilarious. Still chuckling. Great post!

    Hey, consider yourself lucky with the spam award! All I get are notices that I might qualify for a scooter, at absolutely no cost to me.

    And a fantastic statement to wrap it all up! Keep on keeping on with your journey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Bryce. Tell you what: If I win the spam spam blog spam award, I'll trade it to you for one of your free scooters.

      Delete
  5. Oh my, I got the same award! And if my crap can receive an award, anybody can! Whoops...that didn't sound right.
    Anyway, being rather distracted, what's going on here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but we can sort everything out at the award ceremony. I'm sure the award folks won't be having a ceremony, per se, but we can set one up ourselves. That way we can bypass all the presentations and whatnot and get right to the after party.

      Delete
  6. It's your footnotes... I'm sure the award is for your always awesome footnotes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, they really should give out awards for that. They could call them The Footsies. Hmm, maybe I'll do that myself...*

      * Highly unlikely. I'm too lazy.

      Delete
  7. Dude! This post is my new Elements of Style. I don't have the attention span to read Strunk & White. Heck, I don't have the attention span to finish this comm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woohoo! Take that, Strunk & White! In your undead faces! (Wait, did I say "undead"? Crap, now they'll come and punish me for my wordiness by eating my brains.)

      Delete
  8. Now that's the type of book you should write. A "Grammar For Dummies" with a humorous slant. Hey, wait a minute. Maybe I'LL write it. Never mind.
    Bottom line, your feelings on adverbs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adverbs are unfairly maligned through no fault of their own. They do their job superbly; why should they suffer critics' disdain just because some writers greatly overuse them or use them improperly?

      Good luck with your grammar book. Rather than compete with your wit, I'll write a companion piece: Punctuation; (for, Idiot's).

      Delete
  9. Thanks for commenting on my query over at Matt's blog! Nice to meet you.

    Congrats on the award nomination, and good advice :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alexia. And best of luck with your querying.

      Delete
  10. Wait! What? More rules I need to learn? (Did you really get a nomination? Not that I don't think you aren't worthy of yet another award...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, more rules you need to learn. Otherwise, you'll never get published. Oh, wait. (But yes, a lovely spammer nominated me and thousands of others for this prestigious award no one had ever heard of before. Wish me luck!)

      Delete
  11. I've seen some other bloggers nominated for this particular award. If it's spam, then I feel doubly depressed that I have not been nominated. I suppose it must be my flowery prose, misuse of colon (but I eat FiberOne!) and wandering butt. I shall take your list to heart and give you all of the credit if I too receive a nomination/award.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, there's no need to get depressed just because some random spammer didn't spam you randomly. You should be proud they thought you were too smart to fall for their ploy. I'm not that lucky. Scam artists have been trying to take advantage of me ever since I bought the Brooklyn Bridge.

      Twice.

      Delete
  12. Awesome blog....terrific post.....NEW follower.

    I am stopping by from the Top Writing Blog competition.

    Just wanted to say hello. This is a great way to find new blogs and visit ones you haven't visited in a while. :)

    Elizabeth - Silver's Reviews

    http://silversolara.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Glad you enjoyed the post. And good luck with the competition. May the best writing blog win! (I'm not sure which one that is, but I know it's not mine.)

      Delete
  13. BIC PEN never heard that one before, but yep very true. I yank out the internet cord so I'm not tempted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that's completely understandable. After all, I'm the inventor of the BIC PEN. (Oh, and I've tried the internet cord yanking technique before, but every single time I was thwarted. Damn you, WiFi!)

      Delete
  14. I like the post! You are on the list a few spots behind me for the A to Z blog challenge so I will be following you during the challenge. It looks like you've got a fun site so I am looking forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather. I'm looking forward to the Challenge as well, and I'll do my best to keep things entertaining. (Actually, I won't do my best... I did that last year, when I had more time and energy for my posts. But I promise to do my second best.)

      Delete
  15. New follower, thanks to A to Z. Fun post; looking forward to more!

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    1. Thanks, Dawn. Glad to have you aboard. I'll try not to disappoint. Or rather, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and if I disappoint, clearly your expectations were too high.

      Delete