How Not To Write A Novel - Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelark

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How Not To Write A Novel - Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelark

Post by Graham on Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:45 pm

I recommend this book to anyone with pretensions to being a writer. If that is not you, what are you doing here? It is presented in short one or two page segments each of which starts with an example written by the authors of a particular howler, followed by some words of wisdom.

What this doesn’t tell you it is that it is hilarious.

Here is an example
Failing the Turing test
     
     Wherein the character has no reactions whatsoever

When he pulled the covers from the naked form, it was not his wife there at all - it was the lovely Veronica, his brightest and most eager graduate student, wearing nothing but a tattoo of Leonard Cohen.

     ‘Hello, Veronica,’ said Pofessor Johnson. ’What are you doing here?’

She pulled a gun out from under the pillow and sobbed. ‘I’m here to kill you,’ she explained.

     ‘Why,’ he said ‘I’ve never done anything to you?’

She sat up, a beautiful vision in her youthful nudity and state of undress. The moon made her unblemished skin glow like something luminous and her black hair fell over her slim shoulders like a cape of hair. She said, ‘You gave me a C!’

     ‘I’d be willing to reconsider your grade if you would do something for me,’ the professor said.

     ‘Oh? What’s that?’ she asked, tossing the gun aside and thrusting forward her young breasts, her eyes dewy with willingness.

     ‘I’ll be needing a cat-sitter for two weeks in April for my trip to Cancun. Would you be available?’

                                                  *
Actually, I wish I’d written that, and the rest of the book.

They include a pop quiz to establish where you are on the predictable-annoying spectrum. I was at one of the wrong ends. Here’s a typical question

The businesswoman never had enough time
     A. for her children
     B. to have children
     C. to properly bury the children
     D. to buy a cell phone, which she came to regret when trapped in the bathroom by the alien lizard creature.

If you are guilty of none of the sins contained herein then you shouldn’t be here either. You should be signing your latest book in Waterstones.

The alien-lizard-creature end, since you ask.

Graham
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