I suppose it’ll have a really great first line. Something that could capture your interest. Something not too boring or wordy that would lose a bunch of readers right away. It would jump to a second paragraph quickly, and not mention or reference the first line for awhile, so you’d forget about it. And then it’ll come back and you’ll remember. That’s called unity. It’s a sign of good writing. The first line would be about the nature of life, or friendship or something. Maybe love and hate. Maybe it’ll be an action thing, like “Geoff Harris runs inside the house!” you know something with zazz.

I usually like a story that has something that I can really visualize. A clear mental picture really helps the meaning and thoughts soak in to a maximum degree. I usually think about the sun when I visualize things. I bet that makes sense for most usual people. People usually like to know the time of day before they make decisions. If I am really clever, I’ll tell you the season. People usually look for symbolism in the seasons. And it usually means you’ve thought about the emotions and themes of spring or fall or whatever you usually pick.

It makes it not look like a first draft. People usually notice when it looks like a first draft.

Next, I would usually describe a man doing something. And he usually is in the middle of it. People don’t need “thought” stuff if someone is holding a gun to someones head. Nobody cares why it’s happening, just how it’s going to end and whether or not it’ll be awesome or poignant. In that way, reading stories should be like watching a car crash unfold.

It usually makes you sound even smarter if you use a bunch of unconventional punctuation. It is even better if people aren’t aware of the usual rules; that you way you have the upper-hand; you have the advantage of making up the rule to fit nicely with the unusual punctuation in your story, and you have authority to convince someone that they are wrong. You’re a writer, now after all, and that’s why people get into writing: doing the usual course-correction-work for humanity.

I usually find, if I just keep on saying something to someone about grammar, people usually give up or change the subject. Challenging you or looking it up is pretty rude, especially at a dinner party, even if it is his sister. And if some jerk does do that, the ball is still totally usually in your court. You can totally say you write to challenge the usual rules. Why? Because you wrote it.

And besides, there are no rules.

Except that something violent is usually good at drawing a good reading crowd. There’s just something about the promise of fresh blood, that people usually love.

And also, I’ll give the story some dramatic-impact by having someone crying, and muttering something from the bible over and over again. It’s even better if they are really old and someones grandfather (it doesn’t matter whose grandfather it is.) The bible is a fantastic source for epic, dramatic dialogue when you don’t want to do any work. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve lifted an entire conversation from there.

And then, your plot is usually dictated by the random-bible-passage.

And then you just fill out the word-oriented paint by numbers, making sure not to use dumb words but not too many brainy or show-offy words either.

Just make sure there isn’t any resolution and that it ends suddenly. Ambiguity is good.

The only thing better is the lack of it.


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