Lots of folks have painstakingly tried to write all sorts of guides to writing a bestseller or a perfect novel. How-to guides are quite abundant. But I thought I should try to write a guide on how to write a bad novel. How does one go about that? Let’s find out.
1. Choose the least believable, most cliched, overused plot you can imagine, then make it twice as complicated.
2. You must have a love story. Love sells. Sex also, but that’s not so easy to write about. Let’s just write about love, shall we? She must be an incarnation of Aphrodite, and he must look like chiseled into perfection by the gods themselves. Something like that. Of course, they should be star-crossed lovers. Something is always ruining their love story.
3. Use lots of adverbs. Try to be as poetic as possible. Everything can be a metaphor.
4. Characters. You need to think real hard about their names. Try to come up with memorable stuff. And add as many characters as possible, at least three of which are identical.
5. Make the story as long as possible. Write, write, write. Add dialogue that doesn’t do anything for the story, write about your character’s daily routine, one that does not propel the story forward.
6. You need a happy end. Be as Pollyanna as possible. Optimism is going to save the world one day.
7. Tell, don’t show. Readers are stupid creatures, so you’ll have to explain everything to them. Don’t let them imagine stuff, because they’ll screw up. They’ll screw up every damn time.
8. Don’t be vulgar. You’ll be sent straight to hell for this. Use nice words. Be as PG-13 as possible. Not only no one dies in your novel, but they don’t even get as much as a paper cut. It’s all so beautiful it becomes kind of pink.
I did my best to be as sarcastic as possible, but I do recognize how ironic it all is. I can think of at least five Pulitzer Prize winners who kind of followed some of these rules. The art of novel writing is not very fond of rules. It can break them all and still be a work of utter brilliance. Go figure. There are no rules unless you think you need them.
Kind of like life.