How To Write: Ten Rules

This is in response to an article in The Guardian.

One. Never, ever use adverbs, adjectives, or conjunctions of any kind. When you must use a preposition, the sum of the number value of the letters in each preposition per clause must not exceed φ, where a=1, b=2, etc. For example, the boring writer fell underneath the elephant. 21 + 14 + 4 + 5 + 18 + 14 + 5 + 1 + 19 + 8 = 109 ≠ φ. It’s best just to stick to plain nouns.

2.) Regarding these nouns: never use any words that are beyond the grasp of a young child who is in the process of learning how to read, i.e, “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…” should read “Maybe it is good to get hurt when / People throw things at you. / Then again, maybe not.” Remember, bland palettes and monochromatic canvases sell for millions of dollars these days and then get hung up at the MoMA, so the more Procrustean, the better.

3. The same goes for subject matter. It is impossible to tell a story unless that story involves, at its heart, an unfaithful spouse, and all stories must also express a cynical dissatisfaction with the American dream, even if these stories take place outside of America and have nothing to do with it. For instance, if one decides to write a story about Odysseus, Odysseus must complain about how hard he has worked to buy a refrigerator, and then after he purchases this refrigerator it must break down on him and call into question the purpose of his existence. Odysseus must then go insane and commit suicide. Your writing should carry an obvious social message as well—Odysseus should suffer from wearing improper footwear and educate the reader on the subject in a pedantic and lecturing manner. All stories must also conform to Aristotelian precepts (the unities): i.e, take place over the course of exactly one hour in a space measuring neither more nor less than thirty square meters. Stories should be either tragedies or comedies, meaning that they should either end with everyone dying or everyone getting married, respectively. Note: if the characters are gay, they should only get married in states where gay marriage is legal. Note 2: if the characters are gay, they should only murder each other in states where murder is legal.

IV No similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, metonyms, synecdoches, allegories, rhythms, rhymes, allusions, chiasmoi, diasyrms, anaphora, diereses, asyndetons, polysyndetons, asyndetic private adjectives, epiphora, ploces, enthymemes, hyperbatons, anacoluthons, prosopopoeias, metatheses, hypotyposes, or any other rhetorical devices. Keep it simple, simple, simple, simple, simple, simple, simple, simple. How should you keep it? Simple.

Π One must confine one’s reading material to 20th century American authors and study the success of popular supermarket bestsellers like Dan Brown only. Nothing written, and, in fact, nothing of any kind, matters to us if it occurred before January 1st, 1901, just as nothing that happened afterward mattered to everyone who died before that date, duh.

六 If you can’t think of anything interesting to say, just make up a list of rules for writers, or, better yet, sell a book about how to write even if you couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag. If you must read, make a habit of reading these lists before and after you brush your teeth.

ز Write only when the dog across the street tells you to.

〨 It’s okay to cheat. If you say to yourself, Mungo, I’m going to write five pages today, it’s okay if each page only has one sentence. How else do you think Tolstoy wrote War and Peace? Everyone knows that book only has one sentence a page. How else could it possibly be so long?

ט Cultivate a healthy habit of ironically mocking all writing that is not yours. Do not write. If a writer gets angry at you, don’t worry, they’re all pansies, go ahead and tell as many yo’ momma jokes as you want, they are the mark of a true wit, etc.

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One thought on “How To Write: Ten Rules

  1. Omid says:

    Where’s the like button when you need it?

    thoroughly enjoyed this.

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