So, I was doing a quick exercise yesterday, just playing with dialogue and seeing if I could set up a quick event and ending. Dialogue isn't exactly my strongest trait, which is why I practice, practice, practice. If you don't occasionnally do a writing exercise or just jot something down you're either stupid or you're a fucking liar. Writing exercises don't have to be torture, and the best part about them is that they're practice. In other words: you don't have to publish every single goddamn thing you fucking write.
There are two things I wish would happen: I wish tattoo artists would occassionally just say "nah, dude, I'm not doing that" and I wish people on the Creepypasta Wiki didn't feel like they were obligated to publish something just because they wrote it. I'm sure everybody is very well aware of the diahrrea that gets posted here every single day. We're talking grammar errors, poorly thoughtout plots, badly developed characters, etc. etc. etc. until my eyes begin to bleed.
I don't know what it is, but people seem to think that just because they slammed their head against their keyboard it's totally cool to publish it on this site. I won't bore you by bringing up the quality standards, which this almost always violates. But Uncle Nooth is here to help you learn how to write quickly, do fun exercises that will help you become a better writer. So to start off, here is something I wrote last night, in about an hour and a half, I didn't read it back over, I didn't correct it, I didn't do any of that because I'm exercising dialogue. My main concern was to create compelling, realistic, dialogue.
“Listen, evolution is happening…” Bobby said fiddling with his record player,
“... it’s just as obvious as climate change.”
Jake sighs, “yeah, well, I don’t believe in that either. I just don’t see how it can work, you know? The whole idea of evolution, the big bang, none of it makes any sense. It’s all just nonsense.”
Bobby chuckles, “this is coming from the guy who believes the Earth is only six thousand years old?”
Jake glares at him, “Yes, I do take the bible quite literally, if that’s what you’re getting at…” Jake sets his half-eaten burger on the dining room table,
“I won’t have these discussions with you anymore if you can’t even pretend to respe--” he stops his sentence short. There’s a banging and a muffled yelling coming from the basement of the house.
“Goddamn it,” Bobby says looking up from the record in his hands. He sets the black vinyl on the turntable and the first strums of The Fabulous Johnny Cash begins. He turns up the volume all the way. Jake rises from his chair, Bobby opens the door to the basement and they both stand at the top of the basement staircase.
Johnny Cash sings
“run softly, blue river, my darlin’s asleep…”
The basement is chilly, there are two light bulbs hanging above that glow a soft yellow. The crumpled forlorn figure is squirming against the restraints. A dirty blonde that Bobby had picked up at a bar. Jake sat waiting in their old pick up truck outside. It’s a ritual of theirs, Bobby does the sweet talking in a low southern drawl, the girls always play into his hands. They never suspect that the handsome young farmboy would slip sedative into their drink. They think it’s sexy, the way he strokes their knee, and flashes that good ol’ boy smile. It’s sexy the way he says “darlin”, the quaint way the country boy swigs from a golden whiskey and asks permission before lighting up a smoke. Not like the men in the city, they always think, averting their eyes, licking their lips, smiling lightly as they blush away from his big brown eyes. One too many drinks is always the excuse. They wake up, bound, gagged, blind-folded in the dank basement of the farmhouse built by their father.
“And if your murmuring soothes me, til I’m sleeping too…”
Johnny’s voice sounds distant from the basement. She struggles against the rope around her wrists and her spit soaks the bandana knotted in her mouth.
“Oh, I’m sorry, darlin’” Bobby says, putting one thick finger around the inside of the bandana, “that was rude of us.”
He pulls it out and the young lady breathes heavily before her pleas and questions begin. She murmurs softly “what the fuck… where the fuck… why…”
Jake steps towards her and asks her “please watch your language in our daddy’s house,”
She shakes her head, tears soaking and escaping the cloth over her eyes. She murmurs more “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please…”
Bobby laughs, “please what, sugar? Let you go… you won’t tell nobody?” He raises his calloused hand and slaps his palm against her cheek. Her sobs are more frequent, heavier than before.
“Honey, you’re gonna stay down here a while,” Bobby says, he traces her lips with his thumb and forces the gag back into her mouth. She cries now harder than ever. Jake looks at her with pity, befitting a man of God.
“Don’t worry, now, please don’t cry. You’re serving a higher purpose.” They leave her crying as Johnny Cash sings “Oh, I thrill to her kisses and she thrills to mine…”
The music fades as the door slams shut behind them. Bobby turns down the volume, Jake asks him “do you think dad’ll like this one?”
“Oh yeah, he’s partial to the blondes, thinks their blood’s got more vitality or some such.” Bobby replies to him, he grabs an orange out of the bowl on the dining room table and shoves his thumbnail into the rind.
“And by the way, what’s that shit about ‘serving a higher purpose’, you know dad ain’t God, right?” Jake looks out the kitchen window and says “he is to me.” Bobby looks at him, ripping apart the orange rind, “yes, I suppose he is.” Bobby sings along,
“run softly, blue river, my darlin’s asleep…”
So there you have it, a little short story, not even a page and a half long that was written extremely quickly. And I actually used a common technique to begin this, the beginning conversation between the brothers is actually a conversation that I myself had with a friend, nearly word for word. This technique is called eavesdropping, it's a fantastic way to learn how to make believable dialogue. Sit in public and just listen to the conversations people have.
For all intents and purposes, I could definitely publish this, there's not a whole lot technically wrong with it. But you know what I'm exercising by not publishing it? Self control.
There are a slew of websites that will tell you how to do writing exercises, but since most of you probably won't look them up, I'm going to include some of my personal favorites here.
This is my absolute personal favorite. You know what you should be doing when you're writing a story about something you aren't an expert in? That's right! Research, research, research.
Besides being a personal fucking annoyance, badly research stories will pretty quickly falter and die. An example I keep coming back to is a story in the Writer's Workshop Forum, called Bound. The concept is ace, original, scary, it's genuinely amazing. But rememeber in my last advice blog where we talked about immersion? Yeah, the author pretty quickly kills the immersion through bad research. The main idea in the story is actually centered on a being that skins humans, tans their hides, and then uses their skin to bind books in which he's documented their lives.
Do you know what you should research for this story? That's right! Leather tanning and book binding!
I'm a person that knows how to do both of these things already, so it was particularly annoying. But even if I didn't know how to do it a 2 second Google search lists hundreds of websites that tell you how to do both. Very in depth. Seriously, 2 seconds of research could have saved me a pretty massive fucking headache.
Besides being fun (for me), research is an awesome way to get your creative juices flowing. Pick a subject, any subject, and just start reading about it. Take the most interesting things you find and compile them in a Word document for later. Maybe pick something actually interesting instead of writing the same old ghost story that your character barely remembers from when they were like 5 or 6.
Besides being an awesome way to get new ideas, it'll add credibility to your story. Just because you think you can get away with bullshitting on technical subject doesn't mean you can.
Think about your family or your friends. Really think about them.
Now describe them in 50 words. No more no less. That's like, at most, 4 sentences. In my story above that's approximately from the first word to about the word "bang". See how far you get. See what you can include. For an even bigger challenge, pick your parents. If your mom is 38 years old, describe her in 38 words, if your old man is 82 then do the same. 82 words.
You know how this will make you a better writer? First of all, it will once again teach you a bit of self control, but these limits are something you should constantly be thinking about. We don't need a description of the fucking hair color and "sweet leather jackets and skinny jeans" all your little Mary Sue OC's are wearing.
- DESCRIBE A MOVIE SCENE
A sub-note on the descriptions thing, write out the happenings of your favorite movie scene. It doesn't have to be a horror film. And don't always feel compelled to go to the biggest baddest most actiony scene. My choice would be The Exorcist. I wouldn't choose to write out the exorcism scene or when Father Damian takes a nose-dive out the window. Personally, I'd pick when the mother comes home, Reagan tackles her, they tickle and wrestle, they talk about Reagan getting a pony and they just talk about their days.
Don't forget that tension and good characterization often exist in the quiet moments.
COPY THE WORK OF OTHERS
I know what you're thinking: plagiarism is bad. And to that I say, shut the fuck up, and also, yes it is.
I'm not talking about plagiarizing someone's work, though. Not at all. I'm talking about copying their work. As a matter of fact, I'm talking about a method used by many of history's greatest writers. Doing copywork. This Article posted a while back on The Art of Manliness is about as in depth and fantastic as it can be on the subject of copy work.
Grab a pen, grab some paper, grab a book off your shelf, preferrably something actually good. Not 50 Shades of Grey or some other fucking trash like that. And start writing. Do this daily, with short passages then move up to longer passages.
Guys, actually fucking practice. Just because you write it, doesn't mean we have to fucking see it. Keep practicing, you never top off with your skills.