Tuesday, December 8, 2015

5 Tips for How to Write a Book Like a Mother Flippin' Genius

So. I'm back in the grand ole USA.

Fun fact - I just received my marks for the chunk of manuscript I finished at my MA program and though I still have no idea how the UK grading system works, I'm told it was a very good mark! And that I maybe probably definitely have way too much cursing and that my leading lady is "bolshie."
FUNNER FACT - "Bolshie" is, according to Google, (of a person or attitude) deliberately combative or uncooperative."policemen with bolshie attitudes"
I assume it had something to do with a Bolshevik. Which I guess it kind of does, but whatever. Anyway, I'm takin' it as a compliment.

I learned a lot. I'm gonna share some garbage.

Here are some tips for how to write your book like a mother flippin' genius:

1) Start your story later than you think.
I've restarted my manuscript many times -- each time moving further into the actual plot. This is great! Usually I find it's because I spend a page or two 'warming up.' What I write here is a lot more telling than showing, but despite all that telling, doesn't include dialogue. This is dumb, because dialogue is what I'm good at. Do what you're good at right up front.

2) Do more of the showing and less of the telling.
Show your reader who your character is. Don't say she's an evil idiot (you know, instead of a genius, cause how come all evil people are geniuses? I'm basically a genius - OBVIOUSLY - and I'm not entirely evil, so you know, who knows anything at all, you know?) who's always crapping up her stupid experiments and then give us a laundry list of her failed endeavors. Show readers a vignette or two of Griselda the Idiot screwing up.

Think about the movies! Would you rather watch two characters talk about the time they tamed two bears and rode them from Alaska to Mexico City or would you rather see it? I mean, if it was like Werner Herzog and Christopher Walken I'd want it both ways, but you get the picture.

3) Share your work with others.
I ain't sayin' to share your every turd-gem all the time. But have people read what you're writing occasionally. If people are confused by what they're reading, that's bad. If people had an emotional reaction like laughing or crying or eating a second lunch, that's good! You're already a big brave bear for writing some junk in the first place, so use those newly grown claws to rip a hole through your blankets of fear and insecurity and share your wonder with the world! Make Cookie Monster proud! SHARE YOUR WRITING COOKIES! EXCLAMATION POINTS!

4) Use spellcheck.
I am an excellent speller. And I still use spellcheck. Don't ignore that little red squiggly line. And don't turn it off. It's there for a reason. It's not there for it's health. It's there to save you from yourself.
Treat spellcheck like it's your gosh-darned Wonderwall.


5) Say 'maybe' more often
What I mean is, if someone reads a scene in your story and says, "I think it would be better if Mrs. Hamsleeves didn't scream at Mr. Hamsleeves but instead threw their baby out the window to show how angry she is and then says 'oopsy baby!'" don't just say no. It's a terrible idea, but say something stupid like "I'll think about it!" This shows you have a good attitude.
And if someone has an okay idea that you're not sure about, like "I think the horse should be led to water and then drink some," say "Maybe!" And even if you don't like it, if it's not a horrible idea, TRY IT! Why not? By saying "Maybe" you look super good and are fresh and open to the world like a newborn baby on mother-effin' parade. You may even make your story better.
By saying "No. The story is MY story and no other story will be told EVER and your suggestions are terrible because of REASONS," you look like a stubborn, turd-brained newborn baby who isn't on parade, but is instead on a log flume he or she is definitely not tall enough to ride.

But if you really do hate listening to other people say anything at all about your work and just wanna do your own thing entirely, which I think is not at all genius-level thinking but honestly do whatever the flip you want, it's your ham sandwich of a life, just pretend to be slightly more agreeable on the outside. Out loud, be all like, "Maybe, dudette." And in your head just be like, "Eff that crap hurricane of a suggestion up the wiz-wang. Imma do my own thang." So you still look good. It's all about lookin' good.

That's 5 tips and 5 is a fantastic number so that's all for now, folks.
High five, everybody. High. Five.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Not Succeeding Yet

So I didn't complete NaNoWriMo. Big floppily doo.
Some might say this is a failure and maybe to some other people they're right. To me I think not. I managed to write around 17000 words or some such large number. That's pretty darn good considering. Not even considering! Scratch that. It's just pretty darn good.

Sure, I had lots of other things to work on but I could've probably finished my NaNo-ing if I had prioritized it. But I didn't and that's a-okay! What's the point in getting down on yourself? No point, pals. I celebrate my other accomplishments. And me accomplishing other things doesn't make it okay that I didn't win NaNo, but it's a part of being a human, buds. And if you still have things to celebrate what's the point on pooping in your own hand and forcing yourself to take a whiff?
No point, pals. Don't be the poo-brain to your own horse, guys.

Sometimes it takes longer to succeed at things. So I don't particularly think you should ever say you failed at something when it's something you have time to finish or fix or succeed at in whatever way that means.

Like it's like a big floppily doo I only have liiike 9 more months to make it onto a 30 Under 30 list, which would be nice and all but who really cares. I want to feel like it's more like I have 9 months to do several awesome things that make me a soaring eagle in the sky of my life. And then when the time has passed to be one of 30 under 30 I get the chance to be 100 under 100 or I get the chance to just say all those lists can suck my butt. Anyway. The point is all you can do is take a step towards earning your eagle's wings and fly like the big bald bird you are.
For example, I just signed up for a one-day class on how to do a one person show since one of my life goals is to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it's cheaper to send me and a flashlight and a pack of gum (or whatever dumb props I need) than a fleet of people. So this is a step towards getting me my eagle's wings! Though at the end of the day it'd be awesome to take a troupe of folks to perform with, and in that event, having the skills of knowing how to throw together a coherent show is pretty darn tootin' good. OR I could set up a troupe to perform like 5 one-man shows all at once in turn as our one big show. So really it'd be like a one-man show explosion that morphs into a play that morphs into a singalong. See how the crazy ideas are already flowin? From craziness comes geniusness.
Are one-persons shows ridiculous? Sometimes. And that's kinda why they're awesome. I remember seeing a one-man show of this dude going through Tennessee Williams life and I may have wanted to die the whole time. But what about me as Tennessee Williams? Or Mark Twain? Or Charles Dickens? I know basically nothing about their lives and am not an old man. So I'm thinking me making up history and dressing up like various old men would be hilarious.
Just imagine me as this old fart with a pipe, in in a white suit, a snowy wig made of pipe cleaners to match.
I could teach the world the real history of the pipe and the white suit. What more does the world need?

Another thing I'm not succeeding at yet? Living abroad. I don't think I've taken full advantage of crap and even though it's expensive and there is a level of guilt inherent in my presence there and money and whatnot - I think it's time to fart that into oblivion. I think I'm messing it up.
I mean, I don't really know exactly what I want. And I'm hoping to live my imaginary future. But for now I can only take my tiddly steps towards that. And, like I said, I think I'm messing it up.

Like Andy-Sachs-Devil-Wears-Prada messing it up style. I need me the Chanel boots and to say things like "She's not in but I'll leave word." Except instead I think I'll just keep my new practical moto-type rain boots that make me feel like kicking in doors and instead of taking messages for idiots I'll say things like "Keep the change" when there's no change to keep. And take the UK and Europe by it's overpriced saggy bananas.

And I know I'm in a Master's program that I'm loving and moving towards my imaginary future and all that. But I'm also still worried about when the Master's is over what the heck I'm gonna do. What's in my guts?
I just watched a movie about Keira Knightley playing a Master's-having-yet-dissatisfied-with-possible-future loner, so my goal is to figure out how to get a motor in my boat by graduation. 

And while Keira didn't actually figure everything out by the end of her movie, she did teach me if all else fails I can find a lonely yet attractive lawyer who's not really lawyer-y, with a teenage daughter who also likes me who'll let me move in with him.

But. Failing at that. Or rather. Not succeeding at that. My new immediate first step before returning to school:

Taking one-person show class and then signing up to perform one! That's all there is. There isn't anymore.