Remember to laugh at yourself

Although I have no substantial evidence to back this up, I’m gonna go ahead and say that I think more people are writing these days than ever before, and I think it’s directly attributable to the fact that more people are getting themselves published than ever before. Now that closeted writers know there is a chance that they’ll get read outside of the legacy publishing model, a lot more of them are finishing that book they’ve been working on. This is great for several reasons. First, writing is cool, and the more writers we have, the more good writers there will be, which is good for all of us. Second, the avalanche of new writers slogging through their own creative process (and stepping on clichéd landmines in the process) has spawned several hilariously mocking twitter accounts that serve as tongue-in cheek reminders of what bad writing is.

They are humorous primarily because every writer I know (including myself) is guilty of employing many of these clichés at one point. Hell, I sometimes still do. Let’s take a look:

The first account is called @GuyinYourMFA. The entire twitter personality of this account serves one purpose: to skewer pretentious writing, the kind most associated with the literary academics that comprise MFA programs in creative writing. And before anyone gets up in arms here, let me say that I know quite a few MFAs, and for the most part they are very talented people who would be among the very first to laugh.




I admit it! I’ve used “dance” like this! And “echo”! In my first book (which will remain forever unpublished, don’t worry) basically everything echoed, and every emotion danced. How the hell does an emotion “dance” anyway?  Purple prose: You gotta stay away from it.




Thought about it. May even have written a few chapters in my mind. You know you have too.



Yep. Over-description will kill your story. You love your story a lot, I know, but endless details don’t flesh out the plot so much as they make you seem desperate and fan-boyish to your own world. This was a tough lesson for me to learn.


The next account is more mainstream. It’s called @WorstMuse and is dedicated to providing writers with the worst and most hackneyed inspiration possible. Don’t be surprised if your plot device, character development, word choice, and everything else has shown up here.




And why is the a bad guy a bad guy? Because he’s the villain, of course!




Genre fiction writers create more Mary-Sues than any other type of writer, for obvious reasons. The protagonist in a thriller/suspense/action-adventure novel, for instance, gets thrown into dangerous circumstances by virtue of the genre itself, but when they emerge unscathed because “they’re awesome” it’s annoying. Characters have to have legitimate flaws and weaknesses for them to resonate. And saying your protagonist is “too deadly” or “too powerful” or “too smart” most likely won’t cut it. That’s like the guy at the job interview saying his number one flaw is that he’s “too driven” and sometimes has been known to work “too hard.”





Ha! Rule number 1: Don’t answer reviews. Don’t even think about it. Ever. Don’t thank people for good reviews either. And don’t badger reviewers when they haven’t written you a review. Just. Step. Away.

One thing writers can do very well is self-deprecation. It can be a depressing line of work sometimes. Thank heavens we can laugh at ourselves.

Categories: Writing

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