The next season of writing viruses is here. Watch out for these dangerous diseases!
(SEE ALSO: Part I)
Catching the Rye
Well you probably first want to have read this book by J.D. Salinger with an immediately catchy voice that kind of spoke to a generation or some nonsense, and after you do that you may be corrupted with that voice in your head for some time if you want to know the truth of the matter. If you really want to think about it it’s already been done and anyway the guy who wrote it didn’t end up wanting to talk to anyone anymore and holed up in a house somewhere so that can’t have been good and you probably want to try and go and write your own voice so you’re not a phony.
“What do you mean I can’t use adverbs with dialogue tags?” Lucia asked questioningly.
“Just don’t do it,” Nathan replied testily.
“But why not?” Lucia asked quizzically.
“It’s kind of a rule,” Nathan said resignedly.
“I kind of like them,” Lucia said poutingly.
“If you keep using adverbs,” Nathan said patiently, “Pretty soon your
reader will only notice the adverbs and not the dialogue because the
adverbs are doing all the work for the reader.”
“Oh,” Lucia said understandingly.
“Yeah,” Nathan nodded knowingly.
Gee Whiz That’s a Lot of Exposition
“But what is it?” Captain Spaceman asked.
“I’m glad you asked,” his crack scientist said. “It’s a ‘What’s It.’ It is a device that requires me to explain to you precisely how the technology in this world works so the writer can get some exposition out of the way.”
“But why wouldn’t I already know how the technology works?” Captain Spaceman asked. “I am the captain, aren’t I?”
“That’s the beauty of it,” the scientist said. “You will impatiently prod me along while I tell the reader exactly what they need to know even though there is no good reason for us to be having this conversation. You might even say ‘Yes yes, go on.’”
“Yes yes, go on,” Captain Spaceman said.
“And I’ll be sure to include some foreshadowing. I mean, sir, just think of what would happen if the ‘What’s It’ fell into the wrong hands… You might even be moved to weigh in on the gravity of the situation.”
Captain Spaceman scratched his chin. “My gods, that would be catastrophic.”
Olympic Head Jumping
Jackie saw the problem approach from a mile away. She turned to Richard, who was wondering about the weather that day and thought nothing of Susan, who was sitting quietly and wasn’t expecting the problem at all. Jackie wondered at that moment how everything had gone wrong, while Richard’s eyes widened as he saw another person approaching, Derrick, who gave a wave as he approached, happy to see his friends. Susan began to notice something was amiss and gave a start, which Richard noticed and looked in Derrick’s direction while Jackie had already been onto the problem from the start, ignoring the quizzical expression on Derrick’s face as he tried to understand. No one had any idea what was really happening.
“We are hearty warriors! Let us share a hearty chuckle! Ha ha ha!” Pentrarch said.
There was a glint in Lentwendon’s eye as he took a swill from a mighty cistern of ale. He bellowed a deep laugh and clapped his friend on the back.
“I say,” Pentrarch said, “What is it about fantasy novels that lends itself to such stilted, manly camaraderie? Do we not have normal interactions?”
“We do not,” Lentwendon said, his voice suddenly grave. “We do not. We prefer to express our friendship with great noise and clapping of shoulders and brood quietly but stoically when matters turn serious. It is the same with our women.”
“Oh yes,” Pentrarch said “Our women are quietly supportive that we must do battle in far off lands, and they always have weary, knowing eyes. In truth they are the strong ones.”
Lentwendon nodded as he stared quietly at his cistern. “And we always drink ale for some reason, always, always ale. I’d kill a dragon for a lager.”
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Susan Dawson-Cook says
I was listening to Jane Eyre on CD the other day (which I haven't read since I was 15) and was cracking up at Bronte's dialogue tags. There are a whole lot of "she ejaculated."
Other Lisa says
HAHAH! Where was the spew alert on this post?! Too funny. Now I have to go find Part 1, but at least I am forewarned…
Beautiful stuff, Nathan. "And ale, always ale." Love it.
Is there a virus for maverick, hard-drinking crime novel protagonists?
Clare WB says
Ah, Nathan, Nathan. You do mightily pontificate on the multitudinous maladies. The skeletons of style rattle their chains, rousing the dragons of dialogue from the depth of Dicken's dungeons. We do, with knowing looks, attend your learned lessons. The world moved. Nothing there is to say more.
Ryan Sullivan says
I'm more of a mead person, myself.
Excellent post, I'm recommneding it to my critique group.
Prity S says
Thanks Nathan! What a brilliant way to warn us. Thanks…
Elizabeth O. Dulemba says
Gads that's a brilliant post Nathan!! I don't comment often because, well, geesh, you get a million of them. But I always read and I had to chime in today. (In the voice of the Guiness brothers) BRILLIANT! 🙂 e
I'm afraid that one reason it's so funny is that I catch myself saying "Oops, I've done that." Obviously a lot of your other readers have, too.
The comments are almost as much fun to read as the post. Almost.
Wow, I finally get why those pesky adverbs are so pesky. In future will be saving myself a lot of time and just writing the dang dialogue.
Marsha Sigman says
I am totally going to use the word 'hearty' now. I can't help it.
Matthew MacNish says
"You're very good at this, Nathan." Matthew commented complimentarily.
Yes it's a word, I just made it one.
You know, I've read this like four or five times and will probably read it again. It's good!
Nathan, I hope someday you write a book for writers.
Vera Soroka says
My daughter was given an assignment where they had to rewrite a fairy tale. They had to write it the way J.D. Salanger wrote Catcher And The Rye, curse words and all. She ruined Sleeping Beauty.
Great stuff, man.
Heather Marsten says
Thanks for the laugh. I needed it today. Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Hilarious post. Unfortunately, true. I've find the exposition malady to be especially true of Science Fiction. While I love Sci-Fi, I don't need to know how everything works. By picking up the book, I've agreed to suspend disbelief, so there are many things the author doesn't have to explain. I'm already on board.
Bryan Russell says
Rain Laaman says
Oh, this wants to make me write a novel just on parodies–especially for fantasy. 😉
Scott Bryan says
BWAHAHAHA! Oh man. I love the head jumping the best.
Reagan Philips says
Great post, parts I and II, thanks.
So true. Thanks for the laughs. I've seen some Olympic Head Jumping in published novels and it makes me want to vault those books over the pole.
The adverbs example made me giggle.
Nathan, I really enjoyed this post – and yes I think that I have suffered from one or all of these maladies at some point in time. Thanks for sharing.
Tiana Smith says
I lolled 🙂