Friday, October 26, 2012
How To Get A Black Belt In Nanowrimo
Nanowrimo is almost upon us once more — like an overenthusiastic grandma smothering a teenager with lipstick-splattered kisses as she presses a pillow to his face and cries from the second you were born I’ve dreamed of this moment, you offspring of the devil, you hell-child! — so I thought I’d take a minute to pass on my own Number 1 Writing Tip of Alle Tyme for those of you possessed by the urge to jot down 80,000 words over the course of November and proclaim yourself at the end of it all to be “The New Jilly Cooper” (perhaps) or “shagged to within a millilitre of my life-giving spunk” (most likely).
Advice on the use of unnecessarily numerous adjectives and equally abundant adverbs, you’ll find elsewhere on the internet (not to mention on every page of every classic novel on your bookshelf) so I won’t dredge those waters of wisdom with my ladle. Neither will I advise on story arcs or plot — such things are best left to Noah and estate agents, possibly even clued-up acrobats with a penchant for reciting fables.
Character, dialogue, genre, semicolons — these things also I’ll leave to other experts whose sage advice bulges from every browser window summoned by googling WRITER. You’ve visited the sites, you know what they all say, you’re aware of the ones who never shave their nasal hair, yadda heck dang hell heck yadda yadda
What I present for you today is my own personal secret. It won’t guarantee you success (such things are impossible for most of us anyhow — unless we’ve slept with Daniel Craig or licked ice cream from his back) and it won’t mean that your characters, plot and prose will sing like a trio of reformed harpies, but it WILL prevent you from making the one fatal mistake guaranteed to piss off your readers (some of whom could be literary agents or President Obama).
Then here it is, my sage nanowrimo advice.
Never, EVER, EVER
introduce, mention or describe a character called Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive.
To do so is FATAL, believe me.
If you’re writing a detective story, he’ll kill it. If you’re deep into romance or chick-lit territory, he’ll run your French kisses into the ground. Even sci-fi/fantasy-cum-punk/garage/grunge buckles before the march of his entropic marauding.
You want proof?
Consider how his presence would have ruined every book you’ve ever read and enjoyed till your heart melted like a lump of chocolate...
“I awoke in my own bed. If it be that I had not dreamt, the Count must have carried me here. I tried to satisfy myself on the subject, but could not arrive at any unquestionable result. To be sure, there were certain small evidences, such as that my clothes were folded and laid by in a manner which was not my habit, and the Count’s manservant, Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive, danced and jigged at the foot of my bed, shrieking, ‘Woo, jugular boogie, babyyy!’”
“I was eleven when Aunt Fiona died; I remember feeling both peeved and cheated that I was thought to young to go to the funeral. So I telephoned the Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive Hotline and said, ‘here, mate — can you come and fix my bloody family with your stunning weaponry array? Maybe fire off a few lightning bolts? Impale some aunties and uncles on your spikes?’”
“Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father's pockets for the presents he had promised them. ‘You won’t find anything in there,’ said Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive. ‘I’ve sucked everything into my uniquely grotesque gizzard, all ready to regurgitate into the faces of the rich and pompous.’”
“In May 1945 the news spread around Jinzhou that Germany had surrendered and that the war in Europe was over. Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive, came amongst us like the weirdest kind of Santa we’d ever seen, squirting lemonade from his anal funnel and juggling fairy cakes into our mouths.”
“Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.
Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff.
Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman
of The Fallow Cloud Hive
doth his flabby stomach project
as the breasts of a comely witch
and I would flog him mercilessly
till his spleen, red raw, flyetheth from him.”
I rest my case.
Recognise the five excerpts of literature displayed here? Note your answers in the comments trail and I’ll send you a personal (and possibly stunning) useless badge for you to display on your blog (or chest, c/o a suitably qualified tattooist).