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Submissions

Writing Techniques

  1. Understand the rules of grammar for the English language. There is some leeway here to mix English and American variants. If you break these rules, do so intentionally. Bozos are easily spotted.
  2. Say what you mean. To say a pony tail is nice, a smile pretty, a woman beautiful is to say nothing about the thing being described. Pretend you are writing about the world outside your head and describe what you see operationally. The reader should be able to decide from what you have written if the woman is beautiful and should also know what the narrator thinks, without being told what to think regarding the woman's beauty.
  3. Use operational definitions when writing criticism or describing events. To say a work is too slow, that nothing happens, is vague and only tells the reader about you, the writer, about your mental state. Explain. How is it slow? Describe what you mean by slow and let the reader decide if it is slow. If the idea of operational definition doesn't mean anything to you, your education is seriously deficient.
  4. Be explicit in the details. If sex is important enough for you to bring it up, then describe it. Sex is a normal human activity, but the actions during private moments when two (or more) Homo sapiens indulge in it tells the reader much about the characters. Pornography is in the eyes of the beholder: anyone who sees pornography in a work is the pornographer. Similar words apply to violence, eating, driving, whatever. Character is best revealed through behavior.
  5. Ask yourself: Is the work descriptive? Does it evoke images, places, people, and time? If not, it isn't viable.
  6. Adverbs are an essential part of the English language. And they are not equivalent to the set of words ending in the two letters ly, no matter what you have been told. Learn to use adverbs. If you think ly words are bad, you need to read Joyce. He uses them without compunction and his prose is better than yours.
  7. Avoid constructions with copular verbs followed by adjectival complements. Though not true passive constructive, these common constructions show laziness. Flabby prose stems from soft-headedness. If you have a brain, learn to use it. If you don't understand the first sentence of this paragraph, there is a good chance you ought not write.
  8. Throw away The Hero's Journey.
  9. Vulgar words: The idea of a Marine in a firefight saying mother sleeper is ludicrous. He would say mother fucker. That is the way the lots of people talk, in war, in fights, in boardrooms, even on the floor of the Congress (spoken by the Vice-President of the US no less).
  10. Facts. These should be correct. Don't call a Navy pilot an Airman First Class. Don't call an M-79 a blooker. The word is blooper.
  11. Words. Use only what you need to tell the story. Don't pad.
  12. Unless there is an internally dictated reason, don't exaggerate. This is typically done with violence, and it destroys the work. For example, don't have a character take two dumdum rounds in the middle of the back from a magnum revolver, lie on the floor and bleed for a half hour, then shoot the bad guy in the head, walk out the door, get into a car, drive three hours to Mexico and return a couple months later in great condition. It doesn't wash.
  13. Learn to think. Most would-be writers could use a mathematics course beyond Calculus to improve their writing.
  14. Eschew groupthink and cliché. If you find yourself unable to do this, maybe you need a mental laxative.