Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hey, if we can't laugh at ourselves...

39 Rules to Writing a Novel:

1. Avoid alliteration. Always.

2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

3. Employ the vernacular.

4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

6. Remember to never split an infinitive.

7. Contractions aren't necessary.

8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

9. One should never generalize.

10. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

11. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

12. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.

13. Be more or less specific.

14. Understatement is always best.

15. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

16. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

17. The passive voice is to be avoided.

18. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

19. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

20. Who needs rhetorical questions?

21. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

22. Don't never use a double negation.

23. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with point

24. Do not put statements in the negative form.

25. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.

26. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.

27. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

28. A writer must not shift your point of view.

29. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)

30. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!

31. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to the irantecedents.

32. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

33. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

34. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

35. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

36. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

37. Always pick on the correct idiom.

38. The adverb always follows the verb.

39. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; They're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

40. (Bonus Step) “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” ~W. Somerset Maugham


A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."


There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer. When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.


A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.

“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is—”

“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”


How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.

How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Three. One to screw it in. Two to hold down the author.

How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Why does it *have* to be changed?

How many cover blurb writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.


Punctuation Parable

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?


Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?



And finally, Writer’s Quotes

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
—Tom Clancy

“I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.”
—William Faulkner

“I handed in a script last year and the studio didn't change one word. The word they didn't change was on page 87.”
—Steve Martin

“I have always been a huge admirer of my own work. I'm one of the funniest and most entertaining writers I know.”
—Mel Brooks

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
—Robert Benchley

“A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.”
—William Faulkner

“The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”
—Robert Benchley

Friday, May 11, 2007

One Cup of Inspiration, Please.

Ah, if it were only that simple. But really, it is.

“Inspiration is born of the need for self understanding and acceptance. We write to discover and accept who we are.” In other words, observation and experience are the tools of inspiration, but the need for self-love is its impetus.

I don’t write every day. In fact, having to write (or rather, the pressure to write) is the quickest way to do me in—I’m lousy under pressure but can write like a demon when the muse strikes me. And maybe that’s the thing. Writing just to write doesn’t necessarily make one a better writer, any more than is writing just to write better than nothing. Sometimes the ideas just aren’t there, and if you push it—if you make yourself write—often the best ideas don’t have the opportunity to form, in effect sandbagging those times when you could have walked away, relaxed, and perhaps had that brilliant “ah-ha” moment.

A dear friend pointed out that I’m “going to pop the bubble of all those ‘Write every day” people’” to which I conceded that a lot do indeed write every day, and more power to them. At the same time, how often have you heard writers say they have to think about a story? That they have to let it form and stew and come together in their mind? Tons. And I’m one of them. If I wrote the first thing that came to mind, odds are I’d go so far off track that when something really good twigged that I’d either have to discard the idea entirely, or back so far up in the story that I may as well start over. So yes, sure writing every day works for some. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Whatever works for the individual, that’s what I think; just write in the way that works best for you and to heck with what anyone else thinks.

Did you know there are a number of writers out there whose work has influenced a nation, a world, but have themselves only written one or two books? Never mind that though. Writing has to be in you, but more importantly, it as to be fun. You have to want to do it and be a happy camper while you are. If you aren’t happy, if it’s not coming to you, then why bash your head against the wall until you loath it? And yes, you can loath anything, even if you want to like it.

Think of a little kid (let’s call him Tommy) whose parents force him to practice the piano. So there little Tommy is, twenty-minutes a day, right after supper, parked in front of the piano and pounding out tunes that make the neighbors cringe. At the end of that time, he shuts the piano and walks away until tomorrow’s practice when he’ll pound it out again. Sure he might get better. Sure he’ll learn the basics. But he’ll never love it, and I guarantee you, the first chance he gets he’ll stop playing the piano and take up something else… like decorating the cat. In other words, it’s not fun, and because of that, about the only thing he’ll learn is to hate the piano with a blinding passion. Forcing yourself to write when it’s not fun and not coming to you is kind of like that—Tommy torture. At least, it is for me.

A writer never really stops writing; it just doesn’t always involve the use of a pen, pencil, or computer. Experiencing things and observation are forms of writing. Take, for instance, my mother’s day surgery, and the lady in the bed across the way who’d waited so long she fell asleep. Or the quiet man on one side of the curtain and the “talker” on the other—the one with tan shoes and matching corduroy pants… which were about all I could see of him under the curtain. Or my mother, who was so wired for sound that she turned speed talking into an art form (of course, bells suddenly going off followed a few minutes later by the announcement “Code Red, all clear! Code Red, all clear!” should get at least some of the credit.) All of them will come back to you when you need them as characters or stories that seemingly write themselves. In other words, inspiration can come from anywhere. The trick is to recognize it.

Speaking of recognizing it, do you know your own past can be a wealth of inspiration, one where “honest writing”—the best kind of writing—will come from? For example, some authors have to travel to where they are writing about. They need to smell that air, touch that earth, see that hillside. They need to feel the moment and put themselves there—right in the character’s shoes—and walk the walk. Why? Because nothing beats honest writing, and nothing is more honest that one’s own perceptions and observations. To commit sights, smells, scenery, customs and even dialect to memory so that they can write not just from research, but from personal experience. From honesty. In other words, much of their work is real, if known only to them. But not everyone can afford to jet off to who-knows-where, and it’s to those (myself included) I say you don’t need to book a plane ticket, because you have your past. Better?—it’s unique because it’s all your own. And even better still?—it comes complete with dialogue, scenery, emotion, characters and even an outcome. Voila! Instant inspiration and instant honest writing, and you didn’t have to leave home to find it.

So one cup of inspiration, please. And fill it to the brim with your own unique observations and experiences. In yourself, you will find all the inspiration you need.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


This video is hilarious and I thought I’d share it with you. “This is not the greatest song in the world, no. This is just a tribute.”

Tenacious D - Tribute

Saturday, May 05, 2007

My Biggest Boy

Bear, Bram, Moon and Mystic have each been shown here, but Joe (Joe Glo Two) has yet to have his two seconds. So without further ado, here's my biggest boy. Say hello, Joe.

For the horsey set out there, please note that Joe's a senior horse and is wearing a Monty Foreman Training Bit—one of the best and gentlest bits on the market. Yep, people, it can be done.
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