Thursday, January 26, 2006

Three Tips: How to Write a Classic Novel

Having read enough “classic” novels for school to make my brain do anatomically impossible things, I am of course an absolute authority on them (as I am for everything). Here are a few tips should you desire to compose a classic novel and join the ranks of literature’s great minds.

Tip 1: Overstate everything. The more words you have, the more likely it is that some pompous scholar will find an unintentional metaphor or symbol in your novel, enhancing your image as a talented writer. Let’s take a look at how Charles Dickens did it.
WRONG: My name is Pip.

RIGHT: My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
Tip 2: Make it depressing. Do you think people are really going to read your novel if it contains normal people living happy lives? No!
WRONG: Jimmy was an ordinary kid who lived a carefree life with his parents and his dog Skip.

RIGHT: Jimmy was a crippled manic-depressive transvestite with three eyes and a paralyzed left pinky. He lived in an abandoned Nazi gas chamber with his obsessive-compulsive stepfather who worked as a back-alley neurosurgeon during the day and mugged drunks at night to feed his helium addiction. Jimmy’s mother died in a freak lawn mower accident when he was just a baby.
Tip 3: Make it elaborately surreal and scientifically impossible. Many people read books to escape from reality, and your novel should do exactly that.
WRONG: Mr. Wazoo had a minor heart attack and survived. When he woke in the hospital he had a new appreciation for life.

RIGHT: As Mr. Wazoo walked by the railing, a sudden gust of wind swept him off the bridge and onto the passing train below, where the impact of his fall ruptured a fuel line and dosed him with flaming kerosene. Right at that moment an airliner crashed into the train, causing it to derail and plow through a crowded interstate highway. When he woke in the hospital he had a new appreciation for life.
And that, my friends, is how you write a novel that will stand the test of time.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Vivian said...

I think that if Steinbeck did not want to be remembered as he is today, Grapes of Wrath would be a third the size it is right now. with 2x the font size.

and we wouldn't be wasting so much time in English reading it.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous vcarl said...

oh my gosh
grapes of wrath is beautiful
are you crazy?!

12:23 AM  
Anonymous vcarl said...

i forgot to mention, hey that was really brilliant!

12:24 AM  

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