Friday, August 17, 2012

#OBSummer Guest Post - Mistakes in Beginner Writers

Mistakes in Beginner Writers
by Grady Hendrix

When I look at beginner writers, I see nothing but failure. I see them struggling to write and I want to scream at them and say, “Andrew! The letter after ‘M’ is not ‘P’ and it is not that other weird shape you have made which is not a letter at all. It is ‘N’ as in ‘Nimrod’ which is what you are because all the other four-year-olds are writing their alphabets just fine. Okay, you’re three, but your parents thought you were smart enough to be in here with the four-year-olds so either they’re stupid, or you are.” I don’t say this, however, because I do believe that the children are our future - a dark, cold future where everything hurts - but our future, nonetheless.

If Andrew eventually masters the alphabet (doubtful) then he might grow up and decide to write books. He may even come to me for advice. If he is too large or too fast for me to drown, and if his sense of self is too well-developed for me to carefully undermine, then I plan on giving him this list of mistakes that he, as a new writer, must avoid:

1) You are not consuming enough internet pornography!
There is a lot of porn on the internet, and it is not going to consume itself. Those actors and all that behind-the-camera talent has spent a lot of time and energy to make The Dark Bone Rises and you are just going to pretend it doesn’t exist? What’s it like to be so hateful?

2) Only write what you know!
You are only allowed to write about people with MFAs, crushed by student loan obligations, being dehumanized by low paying jobs while getting up every morning at 5AM to write a space opera set 1000 years in the future. That’s it. Seriously, keep it in your ballpark or we’re all going to laugh at you.

3) Not enough cats!
How many cats are in your book? Two? Three? Twenty? Not enough! Trends come and go, but cats are forever. Scientists at Cambridge University recently performed a rigorous study and determined that twenty-five cats are the optimal number a long form work of fiction should contain. Now go add some cats!

4) Do your research!
Where do you plan on submitting your manuscript? There is nothing a reader likes more than seeing a book where the characters share their first and last names. Do you know the names of all the assistants, editors, agents, and slush pile readers who might take a look at your manuscript? Make sure the characters in your book have the exact same names. Or do you want to ride the Fail Train for the rest of your life?

5) Observe life!
Too many authors think they can just fake it. You must observe real life! When’s the last time you just sat there and watched a total stranger sleep? How often do you go to the laundromat and really take the time to go through other people’s dryers? Have you ever picked out a guy at the mall and followed him for hours? What did he do? How did he act? Did he pepper spray you? Good! Write it down! It’s all material, Andrew.

I share these tips with writers like Andrew because I believe that we are not competitors, we are comrades. And like comrades throughout history, we should show our loyalty and support to one another through assassinations, secret conspiracies, and airbrushing each other out of photographs.

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Genre - Humor / Fantasy 
Rating - PG13
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  1. ROFL! Those are hilarious. You did forget to mention that the cats in your book must either A) talk, B) do incredibly cute things that you describe in detail, i.e. licking their privates in front of dinner party or hacking up hairballs on your pillow, or C) be mysterious, wise alien beings here to guide us on our metaphysical journeys.

    And for writing space opera, somebody has to do it. I'm taking the fall for all the rest of you on that one. *cheesy grin*

  2. This is funny. Yes, cat's are forever!


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