The ABCs of Writing

There is a certain level of honesty in even the most outrageous of facts. Here are a few to ponder…


A. Asshole. Never use this word. It has been so overused it has had one of the S’s squeezed out of it. Asshat and asswipe are worthy alternatives but sound rather tween-ish and are best suited for the YA genre. The writing world is waiting for a suitable replacement and I’m considering creating a GoFundMe page to entice credible submissions.

B.  ?

C.  Comfort. There is no such thing in a writer’s life unless you count working in pajamas.

D.  Don’t. You’ve heard the rules: don’t use split infinitives, don’t use tags other than said, asked, and replied, don’t begin a chapter with dialogue, don’t end a sentence with a preposition, don’t, don’t, don’t. They are bullshit rules made up by seasoned writers who are trying to thwart the efforts of the up and coming competition.

E.  Envy. It’s natural. Lisa Scottoline put out yet another book while you’ve been rearranging scene cards for the one you began three years ago. That bitch! Doesn’t she know that everyone hates the busy little worker bee who gets off on making everyone else look bad. And to show your displeasure, don’t plunk down your hard-earned cash for her new book… at least not until it comes out in paperback.

F.  Fuck. Arguably one of the most controversial words in the English language (although every language takes credit for its creation). To use or not to use? That is the fucking question. Generally, I am not a fan of its use believing it only has two purposes: to shock, or to replace (the word you want to use, but can’t think of). Although, when a writer pulls off using it as a verb, a noun, and an adjective all in the SAME sentence, I am duly impressed.

G.  ?

H.  ?

I.  ?

J.  Jealousy. Easily confused with envy. We would all like to think we are not jealous or envious of the success of others, but we’d be deceiving ourselves. Whether it be a struggling writer who is simply jealous of anyone who has managed to complete a novel, to the Susan Lucci writer who can’t seem to win anything no matter how good they think their book is, to the veteran writer who secretly despises James Patterson for putting out eleven books a year because he uses co-authors, we all have a touch of jealousy/envy in us. You don’t have to admit it, but we know.

Stephen King

K.  King. As in Stephen King. The man is a genius. A deranged, twisted, unhinged, sick fucking genius. If he sold tickets for 10-minute strolls through the deepest recesses of his mind, I’m convinced every participant would come out bloodied and in a catatonic state. *The line forms behind me.

L.  ?

M.  Memes. Learn how to make them. They come in handy during the dry spells. Memes are an offering of interest to other writers, even if they have no substance. They will help you to remain connected with zero actual output while signaling other writers as to your amateur status, and therefore, the lack of competition. See my (quite nice) example below:what_the_eyes_miss

N.  ?

O.  Ouija Boards. Desk chairs are second cousins to Ouija boards, capable of moving (seemingly) on their own. Often, when I sit in mine for a busy day of writing, the strangest phenomenon takes place. I begin the session facing my computer screen, but somehow end up facing the TV. And the strangest part is I never seem to recall the chair swiveling itself around. If you’re serious about your writing, I suggest buying the most uncomfortable, non-swiveling desk chair you can find. Better yet, stand while writing. It worked marvelously for Hemingway and by doing so; you’ll spend less time trying to figure out the phenomenon known as Ouija chair.

P.  Plagiarism. Every word in the English language has been said in every imaginable combination at some point in time. That being said, you cannot write without repeating what has been said before. Rather than to show the world what an amateur you are by copying word for word, and subsequently being caught, follow this formula: change one word per sentence. Unless it is a paragraph containing more than four sentences. Then you must change one word per sentence AND change the sentence order. Fools them every time.

Q.  ?

R. Reading. “Read widely and read often” is one of the pieces of advice circulating the internet, although I forget who said it first. I’ve tried that and it has done little to enhance my work. In the last month alone I’ve read my horoscope, several articles in People magazine while at the doctor’s office, Thomas the Train Goes to Work to my grandson, four recipes from three different cookbooks, my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and the back of a box of pancake mix. So far, I don’t see any difference in my writing.

S.  buy-my-bookShameless Plugging. It’s a necessary evil and an art form most of us haven’t mastered. “Buy my book.” “Would you buy my book?” “Did you know I wrote a book?” “Have you seen my book?” “Buy my book please.” There are many ways to make people wish you would drop dead – on top of your book. You’re a writer, not a car salesman. Approach marketing with that in mind.

boobsT.  Tits. Boobs. Jugs. Cha-chas. Hooters. Funbags. Whatever you choose to call them, as long as you mention them. If you intend to appeal to a male audience, you have to include tits in your story. Men. Love. Tits. You don’t have to be an erotica author to include them. Villains, police, superheroes, and pimpled teens love tits in their stories. They are the eye-candy that complements wicked good prose. Without them, you may as well be writing kiddie books.

U.  Ugly People. Why is it there are so few ugly people in fiction when there are so many in real life? I have to admit, I’m a little tired of reading the words: voluptuous, chiseled, perky, hourglass, broad-shouldered, handsome, ivory, pouty… Occasionally, I’d like to read a character who is butt-ugly. Or who perpetually has food dribbled down the front of their shirt. Or who farts while they walk. Or who has Phyllis Diller hair – on purpose.

V.  Virgins. Seriously? It’s 2017 and romance readers still expect their heroine to be a virgin? At 25? Puh-leeze. In farfetchedness (I think I just made up that word) that ranks right up there with the expectation that every leading man should look like Fabio—in either blonde or brunette, the idea of it is prosaic. Just ask your 15-year-old daughter if she thinks she’ll still be a virgin when she’s 25. (Fasten your seatbelt, dad. Her knee-jerk reaction might be more than you anticipated!)

W.  Why? For the love of God, why would any writer think that by posting their ENTIRE novel on Wattpad, they would sell a gazillion books? If you are going to refer to the one or two Wattpad superstars, forget them. They are anomalies in the writing world. For everyone else who posts full novels to attract readers, kudos to you. You may very well attract many readers, all of who will read your ENTIRE book. And if it’s any good, they will rave about it to their friends, who will read your ENTIRE book, and so on. But, how many of them will then plunk down $9.99 for an eBook (or more for the paperback), do you think? Only the very, very rich or those vying to be president of your fan club. Consider this a new spin on the old adage, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.” Repeat after me: give away the teasers, hold back the spoilers.

X.  ?

Y.  ?

Z.  ?

This was my contribution to the Monday morning doldrums. I hope you found the humor (and the truth) in the ABCs of writing. I intentionally left a few letters in the alphabet blank, hoping for input by other creative types. If it appears that only the hard letters were left blank… you’re observant. 😉

*Extra points for filling in the “X”.

Wishing everyone a great (and productive) week ahead.

Write to the ends of your imagination  ~K.E. Garvey


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