Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Killer Method For Improving Your Fiction Writing


    It’s well known in most quality writing circles (and even one or two of the stinkers) that opening your novel or short story with a passage about the weather is a klutz of a boob of an error from Planet No-no.

    Consider this novel opening:

    James looked up at the Sun.  Its warm July rays beat down on his skin, tanning it to the human flesh equivalent of a size 8 gentleman’s brogue.
    “Isn’t it hot?” his sister ejaculated.
    “Oh, yes, it is,” observed James as he leafed through a Christmas card catalogue while mowing the lawn and eating a cheese sandwich which his elderly grandmother had made him only a few hours earlier before she was taken to the hospital after a cycling accident.
    A solitary cloud floated over the apple tree.
    “Maybe we’ll have rain later,” intoned Jane, James’ sister.  “That would be a great pity because I’d like to sunbathe naked for a few hours.”
    “The weatherman said there might be rain,” chuckled James, tucking into a strawberry and cream flavoured yoghurt.  “But I don’t remember his name.  Oh, wait a minute, it was Alan.”

    It’s all exciting stuff, and more potential plot twists are hinted at here than in the first few minutes of any of the recent Batman films.  The problem is that all the business of the weather acts as a major distraction from the action.

    But look what happens when all reference to the weather is edited out...

    James’ skin was like the human flesh equivalent of a size 8 gentleman’s brogue. [Weird, isn’t it?]  His sister ejaculated as he leafed through a Christmas card catalogue while mowing the lawn and eating a cheese sandwich which his elderly grandmother had made him only a few hours earlier before she was taken to the hospital after a cycling accident. [OK, I admit — this section is still pretty good]
    James tucked in to a strawberry and cream flavoured yogurt.

    Everything seems kind of meaningless now.  The weather helped to set the original scene, and without it our intrepid heroes are lost in an unappealing cardboard limbo.

    But there’s a way round this dilemma — a cunning way, a way that will have literary agents and publishers lapping up your writing like cats with milk or cat-eating pandas with cats with milk.

    I call it the Slip The Weather In Gently Like A Banana Between The Thighs Of Queen Elizabeth II And The Duke Of Edinburgh As They Flounce Down The Mall In An Open Carriage Technique.

    Here it is in action:

    A warm July glow leapt from James’ skin like the tanned leather of a gentleman’s size 8 brogue.   [Notice the subtlety here?  It’s killer.] His sister crossed the patio, sweating.
    “I could do with being locked in a fridge for a week,” she ejaculated, sweating again.  [Notice how I’m ladling in the effects of the weather here rather than pointing it up gratuitously?  It’s a technique called “Showing, Not Telling”, and it’s an indispensable tool for generating quality fiction — apart from when you need to lie to the police after exposing your genitals in a supermarket.]
    “My, you’re really sweating today,” observed James as he leafed through a Christmas card catalogue while mowing the lawn and eating a cheese sandwich which his elderly grandmother had made him only a few hours earlier before she was taken to the hospital after a cycling accident. [Classic lines like this never, ever need editing.]
    “I’m Jane,” intoned Jane, “and I’m your sister.”  She took off her bikini and flopped onto the patio.  “I could still use a fridge, but maybe not quite so much now that I’m in the buff.”
    James tucked into a strawberry and cream flavoured yogurt.  “I’m just going to the kitchen to get some plastic carrier bags and cling film,” he chuckled.  “Then I’ll visit the shed and pick up some bamboo canes.  After that I’m going to construct a kind of waterproof gazebo for you because I have every reason to believe you may need it later on this afternoon, thanks to a guy called Alan.” [There’s room for trimming here, but you get the idea.]

    Take a look at that passage again.  All the storytelling, mood and scene setting elements of the weather are included — yet not once has any direct reference been made to the Sun.

    I guarantee that if you use my Slip The Weather In Gently Like A Banana Between The Thighs Of Queen Elizabeth II And The Duke Of Edinburgh As They Flounce Down The Mall In An Open Carriage Technique, your fiction will glow like the work of a genius.

    Try it today!  You have nothing to lose!


6 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I'm speechless in the face of such genius.

So it's a good job I have a keyboard to communicate with.

Whirlochre said...

I love communicating with my keyboard.

Almost better than a real friend...

*sniff*

fairyhedgehog said...

Shh! Don't let it hear you or it won't be your friend at all!

Whirlochre said...

Let me put a bag over its head.

Tjere/ rhat;s vetter/

fairyhedgehog said...

I agree, that's much better. And just think what it will do for your fiction writing.

Whirlochre said...

Cool names for aliens guaranteed...