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How To Write Really Bad Fiction and Enjoy the Benefits of Rapid Rejection
by Hank Quense
Return to Polishing Your Prose
· Print/Mobile-Friendly Version
Editor's Note: This is humor, OK? I say this only because I know that otherwise, I'm bound to get a perplexed e-mail from at least one reader asking, "But don't most experts suggest not using so many adverbs...?"
I'm an author of five books and over forty short stories, along
with a number of fiction writing articles. From my experience,
I've learned a number of important lessons and I want to pass them
onto others. One important lesson involves getting a book
published; it changes your life. No longer can you sit in your
office and spend your time writing more fiction. Once you become a
published author, you also become the book's marketing manager and
its sales manager, a terrifying situation if you're not prepared
To protect others from the trauma of this situation, I've put
together a list of fiction writing techniques that will guarantee
non-publication. Following them will ensure a rapid reply from
editors who will use a preprinted form or a terse email. This rapid
reply will allow you to maximize the rejections you receive in a
given period of time.
Here is the list in no particular order:
- Always use adverbs! Lots and lots of adverbs. One of your
writing objectives should be to use an adverb to modify at least
fifty percent of your verbs. And don't forget about using them in
dialog tags. Why show the reader a woman shredding a paper tissue?
Make it easy on the poor readers. Tell them the woman is nervous.
Thus, "He's making me so fidgety," she said nervously.
- A naked noun is evil! Adjectives exist to be used. Their primary
purpose is to modify a noun, so make use of this most excellent
writing technique. Load up your nouns with modifiers so the reader
will have no doubts about the noun. "The skinny, ugly guy wore a
hideous, ripped t-shirt, dirty, baggy pants and shredded sneakers."
Here's an even better example of clever adjective usage: "The
scrawny boy used his undersized biceps to try to pick up the clumsy
weight and place it in the old-fashioned truck before the
foul-mouthed old man became aware of his clever trickery." Get the
idea? Remember, a naked noun is e-v-i-l!
- Use conversation. Don't limit yourself to dialog. Conversation
is the stuff of life. Don't allow your characters to be stuck
inside the story by restricting them to dialog that moves the story
forward. Make your characters more life-like by letting them
engage in idle conversation just like real people do.
"How you doing?"
"I'm cool. What's up?"
"I'm good. Couldn't be better. Watching the Yankees tonight?
"Who they playing? . . .
Yada, yada, yada.
This stuff doesn't move the story along like dialog does, but it
shows the characters are just as boring as real folk.
- Motivation is over-done. To properly show motivation requires a
lot of creativity, time and words. It is much better to skip over
that part and get right into the action. So what if the guy
disarming the ticking bomb is only doing it because his shift
doesn't end for two hours and he doesn't have anything better to
do. The character doesn't have any motivation, but who cares; it
keeps the story moving and doesn't slow it down with a lot of words
explaining the motivation.
- Don't worry about Point Of View rules. POV is perhaps the most
technical of all aspects of writing and handling it correctly is
time-consuming and requires advanced planning. Who needs all that
extra work when there is another scene to write or another crisis
to defuse. Most of the readers will figure it out and sort of
follow the story.
- Develop writing habits such as peppering the page
with -ing words. This technique will give your writing a pleasing
sing-song effect. "Opening the door and running down the corridor
while waving her hand, she tried shouting, calling attention to her
life-threatening situation." Doesn't that sentence make you want to
hum along from all the -ing words?
- Use empty words. Very, really, ever, still, just and others are
words with no meaning but they do fill up sentences and make them
look more impressive. Fiction writing is filled with opportunities
to use these words and titillate the readers. With a bit of
imagination, you can also use these words to punctuate the
- Don't bother with multiple-dimensional characters. Flat characters
work just as well! Flat characters can fight, love and die just as
well as the more complicated ones, but take considerably less work.
The simple approach gives you more time to write still more
- Avoid character voice. This attribute allows the reader to identify
the characters from their dialog "voices." What nonsense. That's
what names are for. Just use the names in all the lines of dialog
and the readers will be able to keep the characters straight.
Keep this list near your keyboard and refer to it frequently.
Within a short time, your friends and family will be impressed by
the huge stack of rejection notices you've accumulated. A side
benefit is that your family will know you're really doing something
in your office. Right now, they probably think you're goofing off
and playing computer games.
Copyright © 2011 Hank Quense
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric fantasy and scifi stories
and novels along with an occasional article on fiction writing.
His collection of short stories and novellas, Tales From
Gundarland, has been short-listed for a Epic award. His latest
novel, Zaftan Entrepreneurs, was released in January of this year.
He is also the author of Build a Better Story, an ebook filled with
advice and technique on writing fiction. The ebook is especially
useful for new or inexperienced fiction writers. You can get more
information on all these books at Hank's website: http://hank-quense.com/wp/
Copyright © 2018 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
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without the author's written permission, unless otherwise indicated.
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Moira Allen, Editor