In keeping with my “I don’t do blogs about writing” policy, here I am writing another blog about, what else, writing…
Makes you kind of wonder if I don’t understand my own policies, doesn’t it?
Well, maybe not entirely. I mean, after all, when I write a blog about writing, I tend not to take myself too seriously. Trust me, there are more than enough writers out there who have such an overinflated sense of self-importance that they require steel tethers to keep themselves from floating away. What amazes me is that quite a few of them haven’t even been published, with the exception of the pseudo-haiku about their family dog, written in crayon, that was included in the construction paper encased tome they and their classmates “published” back in first grade. A wonderful thing when you are six-years-old, absolutely. When you’re 43, not so much. Yet, there they are, test-tube experts who can tell you all about “how it is done” and moreover, how “YOU are doing it the wrong way if you don’t do it the way they tell you to.”
Then there are those who have had success, and they tell you “how it is done.” Most of these characters forget to take into account that every damn one of them did it differently than the other, yet still had success. Nope. Their way is the only way. No exceptions.
See what I mean?
And so, this is why MY writing advice, while often sound in a loose sense of the word, comes to you with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over the course of the last few months, I have offered up a daily tip for writers via Twitter and Facebook – all in 140 characters or less. Not always easy, let me tell you.
But anyway, now that I have reached 100 of these sometimes sparkly, sometimes purposely flawed, sometimes just cubic zirconium gems, I thought I’d put them all here in one spot. Feel free to implement them, use them as teaching aids, whatever. When you steal them, however, just remember to give credit where credit is due. After all, I have bills to pay just like everyone else…
100 Tips For Writers And Authors
Writing Tip #1: The article “A” is an adjective with gender confusion. He changes into “An” whenever he’s close to a vowel
Writing Tip #2: Writer’s Axiom #872 – On any average keyboard, “backspace” will be the first key to stop working
Writing Tip #3: Words DO have impact. If you don’t believe it, just try dropping a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary on your foot.
Writing Tip #4: Always keep “Elements of Style” nearby. It will come in handy if you need to level an uneven desk or prop up a shelf.
Writing Tip #5: No matter how good your work, someone will hate it and say nasty, mean things. Don’t sweat it. Just kill them and move on
(Just so we are all on the same page: FIGURATIVELY. As in “kill them off in your novel…” NOT really kill them off. No crosshairs here, kids…)
Writing Tip #6: Foreign language words should be italicized to make them look important, and hide the fact that you misspelled them
Writing Tip #7: Adding made up words to the personal dictionary on your spellchecker does NOT validate them as part of accepted speech
Writing Tip #8: Be cautious with possessive adjectives. If they become too clingy your noun may file for divorce.
Writing Tip #9: You can test whether or not a pronoun is reflexive by trying to snatch the object from its grasp, wordhopper.
Writing Tip #10: AKA “The 10-100 rule” – If your main character really needs to pee, odds are you should take a break and do so yourself.
Writing Tip #11: Plot holes are like pot holes with an extra letter. Fill them or they’ll just get bigger and give readers a flat.
Writing Tip #12: Wear protection if using profanity. In grammatical terms, profane interjections were originally called “ejaculations”
Writing Tip #13: *Similies* are comparative phrases that belong in prose. Smilies, on the other hand, not so much.
Writing Tip #14: Ham handed segues to pie in the sky metaphors can really cook your goose, and make readers inexplicably hungry.
Writing Tip #15: Get to know your modifiers without prejudice. Many perfectly lovely adverbs are simply cross-dressing adjectives.
Writing Tip #16: Some readers enjoy gratuitous sex in stories. However, others will just be jealous that they aren’t getting any.
Writing Tip #17: Negotiate a fair salary before employing pronouns. Amateur nouns work for much less and will often do a better job
Writing Tip #18: An E-reader is a device for reading literature. NOT a literary device.
Writing Tip #19: Provocatively attired adverbs might look good, but be wary as some are home wreckers and could “split up” your infinitive
Writing Tip #20: If a word escapes you, obviously you didn’t have it properly and securely restrained.
Writing Tip #21: Hibernians are NOT citizens of the “Hiber Nation.” Hibernian = Irish, or “of Ireland.” Hibernation is what bears do.
Writing Tip #22: Whenever you write something, no matter how great you think it is, it will read like crap as soon as you sober up.
Writing Tip #23: If your desire to be a writer is based upon the movie “Finding Forrester”, pick a different career path. Immediately.
Writing Tip #24: Being broke is no excuse for poor spelling. Contrary to what Pat Sajak says, vowels are free. You do NOT have to buy them.
Writing Tip #25: The Gutenberg Project is NOT a movie produced, directed, and/or starred in by the guy from the Police Academy flick.
Writing Tip #26: Buy an electric pencil sharpener. It will help keep your writing clear and precise, even if it still doesn’t make sense.
Writing Tip #27: Mixed metaphors should be gently shaken, never stirred, lest their meanings become too diluted.
Writing Tip #28: Foul f*cking dialogue should fit the character, or make a g*ddam point. Gratuitous sh*t isn’t f*cking needed
Writing Tip #29: Character development is basically a form of mental masturbation, the results of which ends up getting all over the page
Writing Tip #30: When editing your work, if you remove a verb from a sentence you still have the option to “reverb”.
Writing Tip #31: Contrary to rumor, prepositions are NOT propositions made by poor little rich kids who attend prep schools.
Writing Tip #32: Punctuation is often ruled by both language and geographical location. Except apostrophes, which are ruled by Martha Ackmann.
Writing Tip #33: Remember, a truly good spellchecker set on autocorrect can change the entire meaning of a sentence without even trying.
Writing Tip #34: Beware dangling participles. Falling off, the cat might bat it under the couch, leading to either confusion or a vet bill
Writing Tip #35: Unless you are writing the jumble for the local paper, arrange letters to form actual words. Readers will thank you.
Writing Tip #36: If your subject and verb disagree in a sentence, bringing in an adverb to mediate is NOT going to help.
Writing Tip #37: Before sitting down to the keyboard after using the restroom, wash your hands. Otherwise, you might end up writing crap.
Writing Tip #38: Consonantal alliteration stresses syllables. It may also stress readers if overused.
Writing Tip #39: Use punctuation in your sentences, especially at the end. Audio book talent and other people who read aloud will thank you
Writing Tip #40: Ignore negative reviews as they can cause writer’s block: e.g. The Bible gets them and God hasn’t written a word in years
Writing Tip #41: Unlike the “Nooner Special” at a seedy adult massage parlor, stories don’t always include “happy endings”
Writing Tip #42: Copulative verbs link the subject to the predicate in a sentence. Semi-copulative verbs are the cigarette after.
Writing Tip #43: Proper word usage is crucial – i.e. Sh*t can be used either as a noun or as a verb. Pay attention so you don’t step in it
Writing Tip #44: Using an ellipsis can be very effective in dialogue, especially if you want to…
Writing Tip #45: Writing “Fan Fiction” is like sleeping with someone else’s spouse. An okay fantasy, but not such a good idea in practice.
Writing Tip #46: A palindrome is a phrase that reads the same forward and backward. It is NOT where they park Sarah Palin’s airplane.
Writing Tip #47: When mixing metaphors proportions are crucial, otherwise you may find yourself up to your ass in allegories.
Writing Tip #49: Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. However, “Ad Verbs” are key action words found in commercials.
Writing Tip #48: I before E except after C. Not just a good idea. Not the law either. It’s actually the exception to the rule.
Writing Tip #50: Some verb forms will show tense. Other verb forms will just make you tense.
Writing Tip #51: Everything that can be written, has been written. Now is your chance to give up and find a job bagging groceries
Writing Tip #52: As a general rule, reviews are extremely important – to the reviewer who wrote them.
Writing Tip #53: Contrary to stereotype, the only writers with elbow patches on their jackets are self-involved putzes who write bad poetry
Writing Tip #54: “It was a dark and stormy night,” has already been done. Pick a different opening.
Writing Tip #55: Vowels are important. That’s why Pat Sajak always tries to charge people for them.
Writing Tip #56: Being versed in the mechanics of a seance is not necessary to land a job as a ghost writer.
Writing Tip #57: Remember, “word” is a four letter word. Apply Writing Tip #28 where necessary.
Writing Tip #58: Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. They are NOT “gay telephones.”
Writing Tip #59: Creative and original use of a keyboard is the writer’s key to keeping readers from being bored.
Writing Tip #60: As general a rule, virgin compound nouns and verbs should still have the hyphen intact.
Writing Tip #61: Unless your Aunt Beatrice works for the NYT Review of Books, she’s not a valid source for a cover blurb.
Writing Tip #62: There are times when flowery prose is appropriate. Just be aware that in large doses it can trigger allergies.
Writing Tip #63: SELF PROMOTION – You should position yourself as an expert in your field, NOT as an egotistical know-it-all.
Writing Tip #64: When subjects and verbs disagree, the adjectives are the ones who really suffer.
Writing Tip #65: Economize. Use a spritz of WD-40 and a zip top bag to revive old typewriter ribbo… Umm… Gently shake ink cartridge.
Writing Tip #66: “Conjugate visit” is a grammar exercise. “Conjugal visit” is a cardio exercise. Don’t confuse them.
Writing Tip #67: At age 24, unless you were raised by wolves or something equally unique, your autobiography is NOT likely to sell
Writing Tip #68: Be careful with wholesale “verbification” of nouns. Doing so can get you arrested for unnecessary verbal abuse.
Writing Tip #69: Some days the keyboard wins (writing). Some days the mouse wins (random porn surfing to avoid writing).
Writing Tip #70: ASIN means Amazon Standard Identification Number. It’s NOT always something the Bible tells you to avoid doing.
Writing Tip #71: Contrary to myth, “alliteration” is NOT an arbitrarily measured portion of scoopable granules for use in the cat litter pan
Writing Tip #72: NOTE – commas are subscript, apostrophes are superscript. Mix-ups may cause premature contractions for pregnant readers
Writing Tip #73: Electric pencil sharpeners save time, and are an excellent distraction when you need an excuse for not writing.
Writing Tip #74: Although a picture is worth 1000 words, when writing it is not necessary to use all of them if 500 will do the trick.
Writing Tip #75: You don’t usually find literary devices in sex toy catalogs. However, sex toy catalogs *can* be used as literary devices
Writing Tip #76: Adjectives modify nouns. Think “Pimp My Ride,” only with words instead of cars.
Writing Tip #77: Never count your words when you’re sittin’ at the keyboard, there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the typin’s done
Writing Tip #78: “Paperback Writer” is a song by The Beatles. “Paperback Rights” are something your agent negotiates in your contract.
Writing Tip #79: Discreet is being cautious. Discrete is individually distinct. “Dis ‘crete” is construction site dialogue about concrete.
Writing Tip #80: Finish your book and find a publisher before you start practicing your answers for an interview on Oprah.
Writing Tip #81: Too many spaces after a period can lead to an unwanted pregnancy in your pause.
Writing Tip #82: Remember: Commendation good. Condemnation bad. Condensation wet.
Writing Tip #83: To = motion. Too = also. Two = more than one but less than three. Tutu = tulle ballet skirt or South African activist
Writing Tip #84: “Irregardless” is not a real word, “unregardless” of what anyone with such “nonregard” for language may say in that regard
Writing Tip #85: Assure = confirm. Insure = guarantee against loss/harm. Ensure = Same as insure except when it’s stuff old people drink
Writing Tip #86: Writers sit. A LOT. Best get yourself a comfortable chair and invest heavily in hemorrhoid creams and suppositories
Writing Tip #87: Accept = receive. Except = exclude. Incept = beginning. (See also that weird movie with the dude from Titanic.)
Writing Tip #88: Find out what kinds of things your editor *really* likes. You never know when you might have to bribe him/her.
Writing Tip #89: Lets = allow. Let’s = contraction of let us, generally used to avoid confusion with “lettuce,” a leafy green vegetable.
Writing Tip #90: Illusion = false perception. Allusion = indirect reference. Aleutian = a group of islands off the coast of Alaska.
Writing Tip #91: “The” is spelled T-H-E, not T-E-H. This is a very common error, as most of today’s keyboards are dyslexic.
Writing Tip #92: Coordinating conjunctions join equal parts of a sentence. They are sort of like Garanimals for grammar.
Writing Tip #93: Adjectives are a way of dressing up a noun and making it more attractive to the verbs in the sentence.
Writing Tip #94: If you aren’t certain a word means what you think it means, it probably doesn’t.
Writing Tip #95: My wife’s = possessive, e.g, “Be careful, those are my wife’s grenades.” My wives = A probable court date.
Writing Tip #96: Beware of overly possessive adjectives. They can nab your articles before you are finished with them
Writing Tip #97: Ax is a tool used for chopping, it is NOT a question.
Writing Tip #98: Contrary to the song lyrics, AND, BUT, and OR won’t take you very far unless you have some nouns and verbs to drive them.
Writing Tip #99: Lye = A caustic chemical that can burn you. Lie = a caustic untruth that can burn you. The same, but different.
Writing Tip #100: Words are currency. Be frugal with them when necessary, and extravagant when called for, but above all, spend them wisely
More to come…