Sunday, June 25, 2006

Storm Warnings

Ten Signs That Your Personal Problems
Are Taking Over Your Novel


1. Anyone in the novel who lies to, cheats on, divorces, or is prettier/skinnier/more popular than your protagonist dies a horrific and pointless death.

2. Best friends of your protagonist are limited to: a) an affectionate and beautiful dog with a funny name, b) an affectionate and quirky cat with a dignified name, or c) a short fat frumpy unemployed gopher friend of the same gender with a stupid nickname whose dialogue is limited to variations of They should never have messed with you, Wow, you look amazing, or Gosh darn it! Why can't I be as smart as you are?

3. Courageously your protagonist struggles to hide and control a terrifying secret or secret superpower that, if unleashed, will kill every living member of the opposite gender on the planet.

4. Every character in the novel wants to have sex with your protagonist, and/or tries to have sex with your protagonist.

4a. Female protagonist: Same as #4, but no one succeeds.

4b. Female protagonist in an LKH knockoff: Same as #4, but everyone succeeds.

5. No character in the story can begin to fathom the depth of your protagonist's inner pain. Ever ever ever.

6. The only comfort your protagonist finds is by going through enormous, painful effort and nearly dying six or seven times in order to save the world. This enables the rest of humanity to escape the shadow of evil and live happy, productive, completely oblivious lives. The ingrates.

7. There are no couples with successful, long-term relationships in the story. Any secondary relationships in the novel are brief and end badly. Any two characters who stand close to each other for longer than five minutes bicker nonstop.

8. You dedicate the book to your ex, who bears a striking resemblance to the slime-oozing, black-hearted antagonist who suffers enormously before dying a violent but well-deserved death in the end. You never actually give your ex a copy of the book.

9. Your parents don't want to read the book, but you throw a tantrum until they do. When they have, you flatly refuse to discuss the story.

10. Your protagonist is an identical twin version of you, minus the trifling little physical imperfections, but wealthier, stronger, and way more respected. Your protagonist also drives the cool car that Dad wouldn't buy you when you were in high school.

16 comments:

  1. So, you're saying I shouldn't have made my ex-girlfriend into a heartless Greek courtesan and left her to die in a civil war on Rhodes? Hmmm . . . I guess I probably shouldn't have had the protagonist of Men of Bronze kill his cheating wife, either . . . though if it makes any difference, he did feel bad about it :)

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  2. Awesome. Just awesome.

    #11 being, naturally:

    Your protagonist listens to trendy, goth-y emo music all the time. For some unfathomable reason.

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  3. *giggles*

    *snorts*

    *giggles some more*

    >3. Courageously your protagonist struggles to hide and control a terrifying secret or secret superpower that, if unleashed, will kill every living member of the opposite gender on the planet.

    I had a story like that when I was in 5th grade. Actually, it had a much greater resemblence to Firestarter (no, I hadn't read/seen it--I think everyon has a fantasy like that at some point) crossed with Captain Planet (which didn't exist back the, but ditto).

    SO, SO Mary Sue. I'm ashamed of it now, but it was cool stuff when I was ten.

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  4. Anonymous8:18 AM

    I can't help it. I totally snorted completely unladylike at number 4:

    4. Every character in the novel wants to have sex with your protagonist, and/or tries to have sex with your protagonist.

    4a. Female protagonist: Same as #4, but no one succeeds.

    4b. Female protagonist in an LKH knockoff: Same as #4, but everyone succeeds.

    Then laugh myself into a stitch. Thanks, PBW, for this! :)

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  5. Ahahahahaha! I LOVE number 4!

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  6. You dedicate the book to your ex, who bears a striking resemblance to the slime-oozing, black-hearted antagonist who suffers enormously before dying a violent but well-deserved death in the end. You never actually give your ex a copy of the book.

    so this one doesn't count if you give your ex a copy...

    ;)

    loved the list.

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  7. ...trying to imagine civil war in modern-day Rhodes...Scott, you must be writing a historical of some kind, right? Rhodes is so beautiful; I hope you aren't ruining it with a civil war. There is that old city wall, though. It must have been used in the past.

    I'll have to keep this list close at hand. I'll never personally need the celebrity list from a few days ago, but this one...one never knows.

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  8. Hi Jean,

    Historical, as charged :) This particular civil war was in 357 BCE.

    I've never been to Rhodes personally, but I can appreciate any place with 300 days of blue-sky sunshine a year and lots of ruins :)

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  9. Now, see, THAT'S the Mary Sue syndrome.

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  10. 3. Courageously your protagonist struggles to hide and control a terrifying secret or secret superpower that, if unleashed, will kill every living member of the opposite gender on the planet.

    Back at school I was tempted to invent a power that would eliminate every member of my own gender, at least in its teenage incarnation.

    Girls can be a worse bullies than boys.

    But since I already then stuck to historical fiction, I was content with an amazing Mary Sue self insert in my War and Peace fanfiction. Yep, she sorta kicked Napoleon of of Russia single handedly. ;)

    No. 4 cracked me up.

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  11. Guilty. I give all the woman and girls in my books great hair. Hey, you would too if your mother used to play hair dresser with your hair. Picture a skinny little white girl with Don King's hair.

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  12. I have a small sort of a life so my characters have little connections to it: They fall asleep when I'm tired and they're currently kvetching about the rain. . .

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  13. Scott, I was there in September, 2003. It's a gorgeous place. I have pictures around here somewhere, but I was on a disposable camera that trip, because I wasn't confident I could take any of my electronics into Turkey without them being confiscated, so they aren't on the PC. To be safe, the only electronics I took was my wristwatch.

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  14. It's not significant that the protagonist of my unpub'd trilogy is quite literally henpecked into taking a job he doesn't want. Not significant at all.

    Hilarious post, Sheila ;)

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  15. Heh. In the current project, I had a walk-on character that was a rather nasty portrait of a woman I work with. Fortunately, I realized what i was doing and have managed to excise her -- the character served on purpose except to make the woman look as stupid as I think she is.

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