Friday, August 17, 2012

Terrible writing advice from some washed-up old bastard

T. Texas Tenafly, author of Write, Goddamn You!

T. Texas Tenafly is, if nothing else, one of our most persistent authors. Despite a noticeable lack of public interest or critical acclaim, he has completed a novel every year since 1952. Through harassment and bullying techniques many loan sharks would envy, the author has even persuaded several reputable publishers to print and market some of these little-demanded works. Among these are such novels as The Gelded Gifthorse, They Dared Call Him Turncoat, and Elysium on a Tramp Steamer. Total sales number in the dozens. Now rapidly approaching his 80th year, Mr. Tenafly is getting set to publish his first-ever non-fiction book, a guide for aspiring authors entitled Write, Goddamn You! A Seasoned Pro Shows You How It's Done, Little Missy. Inspired by this BuzzFeed article, I recently asked Tex to give the readers of this blog (all none of you) a few basic pointers about the writing game. At first he was reluctant, but a bottle of Old Grand-Dad sealed the deal. Here, then, is a list of terrible, terrible pointers from this utterly irrelevant writer. Heed them at your peril.

1. Identify your favorite character and remove him (her/it/etc.) from the manuscript entirely. Replace this character with one towards whom you are indifferent.
2. Name all your characters "Steve." No exceptions. Can you think of a better name than Steve? No, you can't. 
3. Whenever you have your characters speaking, they should be silent. When they are silent, they should be speaking. 
4. You can never go wrong with a story about a spearfishing expedition. It was as true 50 years ago as it is today! 
5. Writer's block, schmiter's block! What, you never heard of a Xerox machine?
6. The more you like a paragraph, the worse it probably is. Edit the hell out of your manuscript, carefully weeding out the phrases you actually enjoy, until you loathe every last passage in it. Only then will it be fit for publication. 
7. Get that word count up, bucko! Remember: the longer your book is, the better a weapon it'll be when it's printed. 
8. Writing is a three-way battle between God, the Devil, and Al Roker going on 24-7 in the author's brain. Or maybe that's just a side effect of the medicine I've been taking. Who knows?
9. No writer should be without a bottle of Old Grand-Dad. It won't help you get any writing done, but you won't give a damn either. Speaking of which, where is that bottle you promised me? 
10. What do you mean I already drank it? This is some bull$#!+, I tell ya!
And there you have it, folks. Ten surefire pointers guaranteed to prevent you from wasting years of your life on a writing career. Don't thank me now. Thank me when you've moved out of your parents' house and find a job at an investment firm.


  1. I think the weirdest writing advice I ever got was back in college when playwright Warren Leight (Side Man, now a Law & Order showrunner and best of all, one of the screenwriters on the original Mother's Day) said that his one rule for every play was to find his favorite line of dialogue and cut it out. Sounded like such a masochistic writerly thing to do.

  2. This species of advice (the more you like it, the worse it is) is quite common among professional writers. I don't personally agree with it, but there must be SOME reason it's so often repeated.