Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Infectious Ten

One thing that caught my eye from that writing rules article I mentioned yesterday was a comment by P.D. James who stated that we should be discriminating about what we read because Bad writing is contagious. I can't say if I agree with that or not -- it invites snobbery, and badly-written books often cheer me up immensely -- but it did make me wonder what other writer cooties might be out there waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting storyteller.

Over the years I have noticed some faddish-type writing that seems to spread along with trends, and commenced compiling a ten list -- did you doubt I wouldn't? -- so here are:

Ten Things You Might Catch from Other Writers' Books

Dragonorrhea: the prevalence of countless, beautifully colored, magically-endowed, bejewel-eyed dragons in a story when said dragons are not logical to the world-building, have no lives, apparently have nothing better to do than suck up to puny mortals, and (no matter how enormous or powerful they are) usually behave like fanged, flying, fire-breathing bunnies.

Good Girlitis: A serious and often grotesque inflammation of the heroine's moral pulchritude, which results in her utter inability to acquire flaws, make bad decisions or otherwise mess up like the rest of the ordinary mortals on the planet.

InfoMumps: Swollen, boring and largely unattractive monologues offered by dull characters who seem to serve no other purpose except to be on hand to confirm what Bob already knows.

HEAlzheimers: no matter how emotionally screwed up one or more main characters were during the first nineteen chapters of the novel, in the twentieth they forget all their troubles, commit to a serious relationship for which they were always incapable of trying much less sustaining in the past, and otherwise present a permanently welded-on mask of unnatural, lobotomized bliss.

Projectile Dysfunction: the unreasonable, unrealistic but steadily persistent eruption of guns, knives, swords and other phallic symbols wielded by the hero to underscore or serve as visual substitute for his masculinity, heterosexuality, virility, or any other manly man attribute.

Pseudo-BadBoydom: a surface condition which presents the hero as a nasty dirty lowdown mean leather-wearing foul-mouthed ingrate who should be publicly flogged for his innumerable sins and yet mysteriously and instantly vanishes whenever the heroine confesses her love, self-doubts, troubles or any situation in which a real bad boy would actually come in rather handy.

Rumor Paralysis: an emotionally void state in which a character falls in after hearing the most ridiculous, unbelievable, circumstantial gossip about their loved one; at least until said loved one offers up tangible and undeniable evidence to the contrary at the last possible moment versus telling the moron to piss off like any sane person would.

Sexaholism: any mortal character who performs more than four sex acts in a 12-hour period; any semi-mortal character who must sleep with everyone in the novel because if they don't the world is doomed; any immortal character who has non-stop sex with a mortal character and yet does not cause them to spontaneously combust after the four hundredth go.

Tattoomania: characters who enjoy normal employment while sporting so much visible body ink that the only two jobs they could reasonably hold down in the real world would be that of a) a tattoo artist or b) a sideshow freak.

Writerinterruptus: Random and glaringly obvious break outs of ax-grinding, soapbox preaching and other outpourings of personal bitching by the author that derail the story, annoy the reader but sound really good when quoted by an ardent colleague who possesses the same inane belief system.


  1. Oh! These are wonderful. I especially love Projectile Dysfunction!

  2. Quickly slipping into hazmat suit & running for cover...

  3. Hehe, love this post. :D

  4. Tattoomania - *unless they live in the Pacific Northwest, where mundane is the oddity.

    (Side note - while at the store, one of my kids once commented on how cool the "sailor" looked. I was puzzled... until we ended up in line behind the black leather clothed, metal spiked, too many piercings and tatts to count guy... and my 4-yr-old son says See, Mom? Cool sailor, huh? and I realized that he meant "pirate"!)

    The only ones that really make me cringe these days are the ones with earrings where the piercing hole is quarter-sized... and all I can think is, oh, man... that has GOTTA hurt.

  5. What on earth have you been reading, luv? And can I have a look at the Sexaholism booklist, please? Just so I know what to avoid, of course.

  6. Hmmmm... anyone who says those things are contagious is a liar. Lies! I've been reading them voraciously for years and I have never once picked up a happy go lucky, 40 foot, fire breathing friend, any kind of bad, not even a pseudo one, rampant body art, OR sexaholism.

    I DO have two kids and station wagon. It's like trying to get the chicken pox and ending up with a mild case of hives instead.


  7. LOL wonderful article.... :-) I may be guilty of a couple in my pirate-based adventure fantasy books, although I haven't yet had a dragon.

    (mental note, drop the dragon from the next book.... :)

    thanks for sharing!

  8. (You guys! Your comments are as funny as the post!)

    I especially liked InfoMumps and GoodGirlitis. I don't read as much romance as you... what's been cropping up in what I read? Hm.

    Hyperpremisontis - brilliant idea, faulty execution. Ideas so good, the writer possibly psyches herself out of doing it justice.

    (Not one I've read but that I've noticed from book reviews cropping up:) Conduit Disorder - heroines who exist to be nothing more than a reader placeholder and therefore lack any identities of their own

  9. Keita Haruka10:44 AM

    Ouch! :P I'll admit to having suffered from Dragonorrhea from 14 to about 18...but in my defence...I started my reading career as a fan of Anne McCaffrey. :P I still like dragons. And I make no apologies for it. :P

    Pseudo-BadBoydom: Mmm...does my character suffer from this condition if he retains all his other faults except for his tendency to never pass up new meat? He now takes his entire libido out on his lover (who does not suffer from sexaholism, performing only one or two sexual acts in a 12 hour period :P) Well? Does he? ;-)

    Yup...I think those are the only two I am/may be guilty of...:P

  10. Rumor Paralysis: an emotionally void state in which a character falls in after hearing the most ridiculous, unbelievable, circumstantial gossip about their loved one; at least until said loved one offers up tangible and undeniable evidence to the contrary at the last possible moment versus telling the moron to piss off like any sane person would.


    Thank you! I want to reach into the story and choke the idiot who believes the rumor for the sake of the story. Makes me wonder if the author had a brain fart while writing and that was the only way out of their dilemma instead of reworking the premise.

  11. Oh, these are priceless! And sadly, oh so true! I just hope I haven't caught any...

  12. Speaking of badly written books, I came across a novel that used my idea of the worst way to start a book; a line redundant line about the weather (i.e., the rain was wet — the night was dark.) That’s so wonderfully bad on so many levels, well, I had to read the whole thing. It was eye opening. And, in the end, a big help. It changed the way I describe locations.

  13. Glosscoma: the state a writer enters upon close examination of a book cover, especially his/her own. A healthy case can lead to increased publishing efforts; a severe case can lead to PublishAmerica.

    These are wonderful! They're a new addition to why I'm trying to abstain from novels until I finish these short stories.

  14. Anonymous9:43 PM

    oops -- JulieB

  15. Anonymous9:43 PM

    I love these. I've seen several, and one set that suffers not only from sexaholism, but pissing contestia, where the MC's dialogue consists primarily of showing everyone in the room she has more balls than everyone else. Then, sex to save the world. Rinse and repeat.

  16. I started out reading Anne McCaffrey but never felt the urge to write about dragons; I collect them, but don't write about them.

    Sadly, I can name a book in every, single, category you mentioned. And some that fall into more than one.

    Premature injectulation: The writer inserts so many clues to what is about to happen, that no one is surprised... except the writer.

  17. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Reading bad writing is good. How else do you know what bad is? If you read something and the words fling you out of the book and back into reality, then you'll say to yourself: "never do that when you are writing".

  18. About the tattoos: So long as it would under the area of a suit, people often get very colorful while working office jobs, etc. and attending tat art festivals on the weekends.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.