Okay, writers. Grab your electrolytes-infused sports drink, because we’re about to karate chop some GREATNESS into your manuscript! Right now your “story” may feel more like a BORE-y, am I right? But with these ten simple tips, your book can become the belle of the bookshop, guaranteed.
Tip #1: Make stylistic choices about punctuation.
You know what you are? A free spirit. All those RULES set up by THE MAN can’t keep you down. You’re not a part of their system! Like commas for instance. Commas imply a pause, right? Fair enough. But sometimes you want a longer pause. Maybe you wanna grab a cup of coffee before moving on with the sentence. So just throw a bunch of commas in there,,,,,,,, whenever you need a rest. You’ve worked hard, you deserve it.
Tip #2: Tell, don’t show.
Look, we might read books, but we’re not brain surgeons. Except for Jim who thinks he’s sooooo special because he’s a neurologist AND can read. Pff. Unlike Fancy Pants Jim, we common folk REALLY need things explained to us. So make sure you spell out EXACTLY what’s happening. When you think you’re done, throw in an extra reminder or two, just in case.
Tip #3: More exposition!
On that note, where is the exposition?? I can’t stress this enough: readers are like, super dumb. Gradually weaving in backstories and world building and other information via the narrative is just too cumbersome and easily missed. Outline it all in one big chunk. Bigger. No, BIGGER. When the rest of the text feels inadequate compared to how big your exposition is, you know you’ve done it right.
Tip #4: Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.
Critiques, man. Who needs ‘em. Your beta readers might mean well, but what do THEY know about adverbs and your supposed overuse of them? It’s YOUR story and you can’t help it that you’re such a trailblazer. Share your work if you must, but make sure you tell them that you have NO intentions of making ANY changes. They’ll be too humbled by your fierce independence to tell you that your plot zig-zags all over the place or that “physics don’t actually work like that.” YEAH LINDA, I GOT YOUR NOTES, AND YOU KNOW WHAT, YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS.
Tip #5: Keep ‘em guessing.
I said this list would have 10 tips but I decided to stop at 5, because SURPRISE! False promises keep readers on their toes. Never follow through, never deliver. That way, readers will never know what to expect! They think they’re getting a fantasy adventure? JUST KIDDING, IT WAS ALL A DREAM. They’re eager to find out who the killer is in your mystery thriller? TOO BAD, IT WAS NOBODY. Everyone loves a twist.
With these handy guidelines, you’re now on your way to attaining your black belt in real good writing. Hi-yah! Now, since all of these tips are 100% sarcastic, go forth and do the opposite of everything here!
(This post originally went up in May of 2015.)