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How To Write Badly Well
October 22, 2009 12:27 PM   Subscribe

You have a great idea for a novel and it's almost November, so you think now is the time to get cracking. You've decided that hiring a ghostwriter is too easy, but you don't have 100 days to write your novel and the snowflake method seems too frilly. Snowflakes, those delicate little monsters that papered your car when you were stranded on the road in Minnesota. A single snowflake is beautiful, but millions make an avalanche. You were cold, so cold, yet you survived. You're not sure if you have time to read a book on what not to do (UK edition), and the search results are daunting. Forget all that, because you already know how to write, right? Embrace your awesome, magnificent, spellbinding abilities, go forward but never back, ever spinning, shake the rain off your bedspread, and now that you have brewed a delicious pot of steamy, hot, life-giving coffee, you can learn how to write badly well. [via mefi projects]

NaNoWriMo, previously: 2001 (and a follow-up, plus updated East Bay Express link), 2002, 2006, 2007 (twice), 2008

No budding author was harmed in the extraction of samples. The examples are written up by MeFi's own him.
posted by filthy light thief (35 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a Project I like it, and just gave it a Projects vote, but I gotta say I think a blog has to have more than six entries before it's FPP material.
posted by Shepherd at 12:44 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is pretty good. I'd been toying with idea of Nanowrimo'ing an intentionally horrific novel. Now I'm sold! Crapville, here I come!
posted by mannequito at 12:47 PM on October 22, 2009


You can also let the brilliant and dead Michael O'Donoghue instruct you on How to Write Good.
posted by Spatch at 12:51 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've tried to do NANOWRIMO in the past, and I don't know what it is but I just can't get into it. Which is a shame because I miss writing.
posted by zizzle at 1:01 PM on October 22, 2009


Oh, him.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:01 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


For years, I've thought about this. I've wondered, even brainstormed, and thought: will I finish? Will my idea even fly? Will anyone care? Will it be good? Will I be able to commit to the effort that a project like this will require?

Then i just had an idea: this year, I write a novel about NANOWRIMO.
posted by grubi at 1:27 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


"It undoes in the back," she whispered into my mouth.

I had a boner that could cut glass. I moved my hands around to her back, which was strong and broad, and found the hook with my fingers, which were trembling. I fumbled for a while, thinking of all those jokes about how bad guys are at undoing bras. I was bad at it. Then the hook sprang free.

She gasped into my mouth. I slipped my hands around, feeling the wetness of her armpits — which was sexy and not at all gross for some reason — and then brushed the sides of her breasts.
posted by Ratio at 1:38 PM on October 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


I gotta say I think a blog has to have more than six entries before it's FPP material.

Thus the National Novel Writing Month tie-in with additional linkage.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:44 PM on October 22, 2009


Ratio: isn't that from Bill O'Reilly's novel?
posted by grubi at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thus the National Novel Writing Month tie-in with additional linkage.

Yeah, but it's kind of the punchline/thesis/central point of the whole thing. Remove it and there's nothing left but NANOWRIMO, which, as we can see from the multitude of (previously) links, has been discussed ad nauseum around here already.

I'm mainly just being cranky, and I honestly do like the Write Badly blog. Just wish there was more meat on them bones.
posted by Shepherd at 1:55 PM on October 22, 2009


It has been an old standby that you should write badly first and then just rewrite so it's good. I'm not sure, however, that these examples are making me feel better about the practice even though it's one I use.
posted by medea42 at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2009


Ratio, let me fix this for you:

"It undoes," she spoke whisperingly into my mouth, "in the back."

The boner which I possessed was like a glasscutter - hard and bonerlike. My hands trembled fleetingly around to her back which was behind her, and upon arrival encountered the hook of mystery. I hemmed and hawed with my fingers, all the while casually reviewing in my mind the jokes about how bad guys are bad with opening brassieres. Bad like I was bad right now. Then the hook unsprung with a" thwap" and the twin treasures announced their freedom.

I gaped, she gasped. Her gasp entered my gape. I slithered my hands around her like a newly untethered anaconda, entering the wettedness of her axillary hair pits. Which were sexy for some unknown reason, nearly so as the skin on the sides of her unleashed buxom.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan yet. To be honest, I think Thomas Pynchon follows most of those rules, and he's pretty good (though he may be the epitome of "writing badly well").

The site should be simply called "How to Write Badly" imo. To me "how to write badly well" indicates advice for mediocre writers to improve their skills. This blog is just advice for making your writing worse. My2c.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2009


I'm mainly just being cranky, and I honestly do like the Write Badly blog. Just wish there was more meat on them bones.

I understand, and to a degree I agree. I think this is an issue with many things posted to Projects: they're a few months shy of having enough content to really stand on their own. Posting something on Projects can help shape the ... project through critique, but the item might fall from view and memory before it becomes something more solid.

Then i just had an idea: this year, I write a novel about NANOWRIMO.

Sorry to tell you, but That has been done already.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:33 PM on October 22, 2009


filthy light thief: THAT'S NOT A NOVEL. pleh
posted by grubi at 2:38 PM on October 22, 2009


I've written a horrible NaNoWriMo fantasy novel and separately a whole series of intentionally bad hockey-player-themed poems to make fun of modernism or something (hey, I was in college, it seemed like the thing to do), and here is the problem with all of that: after a certain amount of time invested, you will love what you have written. You might love it for its badness, you might love it because you dropped something in that made you laugh or smile or whatever, or you might just love it because it's your little baby. I still love those hockey poems, with their random excursions into Greek and shout-outs to old teachers and roommates of mine and third-hand quotes I found funny and there's the part in one of them that's simultaneously about Fark and the Fall of Constantinople and Hobey Baker, and . . .

So, yeah, I love my horrible poetry.

You'll probably also hate it, but that, too, comes with the territory. There is no well of satire deep enough to drown the love/hate relationship between the artist and his art, least of all something as intense as writing a novel in a month. I'm really glad I wrote my novel, as bad and as great as it is, and I hope anyone else who does NaNoWriMo feels the same way. Just don't assume that you'll end up with Angels and Demons 2 for all of your friends to mock.
posted by Copronymus at 2:49 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


She was totally h4wt — that is to say, hot.

It was like looking at that picture of a vase and noticing that it was also two faces. I could see that Van was just Van, but I could also see that she was hella pretty, something I’d never noticed.
posted by Ratio at 2:53 PM on October 22, 2009


THAT'S NOT A NOVEL. pleh

Heh, good point. Have at it! Write for a month about writing for a month - how very meta.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2009


@Ratio: :( :( I loved that book and now it sounds all dumb
posted by NoraReed at 4:23 PM on October 22, 2009


Sadly, there are no annotations yet for that section. I do not understand what is this h4wt.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:26 PM on October 22, 2009


This was a bad time to get a puppy.
posted by xorry at 6:47 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The boner which I possessed was like a glasscutter - hard and bonerlike. My hands trembled fleetingly around to her back which was behind her, and upon arrival encountered the hook of mystery."

I never knew Dan Brown was a MeFite. I'm totally stealing that boner line for my NaNo.
posted by MikeMc at 7:20 PM on October 22, 2009


filthy light thief:

Holy shit, someone annotated Little Brother?

As if it was some kind of important educational resource?

Wow. I'll say this about Cory: he's managed to make so very little go such a long, long, way.
posted by Ratio at 9:02 PM on October 22, 2009


My social studies teacher, Ms Galvez, rolled her eyes at me and I rolled my eyes back at her. The Man was always coming down on me, just because I go through school firewalls like wet kleenex, spoof the gait-recognition software, and nuke the snitch chips they track us with. Galvez is a good type, anyway, never holds that against me (especially when I’m helping get with her webmail so she can talk to her brother who’s stationed in Iraq).
posted by Ratio at 9:03 PM on October 22, 2009


"DO ME", she flabbergasped, "but first, undo me." I did so, unduly.

My love-starved boner, bone-hard, ordered several orders of magnitude, which were readily delivered. My hands footled around the clefts of her collarbones like a mountain goat on rollerskates. Then - the Gordian knot! It was as if it was like trying to thread a camel through the eye of a storm. But... suddenly! My hands did an Indiana Jones, barely escaping the crushing chase of her two proverbial boulders as she boldly bowled me onto the bed as my reward. Her lips assassined poison arrows into the bodies of the monkeys on my back, namely, Inexperience and Hesitation. Finally, we were. Alone.

She, as they say in Spanish, respirar con dificultad, into my mouth. My arms were anacondas as thick as locomotives, muscling each other to the death in her freshly-unguarded gardens of axillary fossa. O, the sides of her breasts, the size of her breadth, the sighs of her breaths!
posted by oulipian at 9:35 PM on October 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Man, that was Doctorow? I was going to favorite Ratio for coming up with such a deliberately bad bit of writing.
posted by mmoncur at 9:50 PM on October 22, 2009


I pasted in my HOWTO for building a arphid cloner, and some tips for getting close enough to people to read and write their tags. I put my own cloner in the pocket of my vintage black leather motocross jacket with the armored pockets and left for school. I managed to clone six tags between home and Chavez High.
posted by Ratio at 10:58 PM on October 22, 2009


Darryl hit me with the bad news. "Welp, we found it. But there's no way the Tablet of Zozer will help us in time; it's written in ancient Sanskrit and it'll take months to translate."

Darryl was a friend, but kinda dense and not a c00l h4X0r like me. He obviously didn't know about a little thing called Wikipedia. I knew my favorite user-edited collaborative knowledge database would have this thing worked out in no time.

Luckily, I had downloaded the Sanskrit language pack to my iPhone, so entering the characters of the ancient text would be easy as spoofing packets to confuse the l0zers in the high school IT department.
posted by Ratio at 11:08 PM on October 22, 2009


Our shy awkwardness quickly gave way as we undressed with a raging fury, Hello Kitty boxer shorts and brass goggles flying with abandon until we were naked before the world, stripped down to our bluetooth headsets. Passersby would have stopped to stare if there were any but there weren't so she climbed on top of me and I groped blindly in her moist damp hairy wetness like a rogue operator trying to slot an ethernet cord behind an unwieldy pirate server until I struck home - connection.

She had the deft aspect of a master bodyhacker, her breaths deep and syncopated to match the recorded sound from the freecycled model HO train that hung from her neck, while I found a reason to practice all that I'd learned from long nights on Talk:Erogenous Zones. But as our systems responded to each other and passion rose in speed and pitch like the gradual speeding up of an old steam engine we abandoned our calculated loving and at the same time began a long, rising note "oh god oh god OH GOD I'M PINGIIIIING"
posted by Ratio at 11:14 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Evening All.

Naturally, I'm delighted to have my blog included as part of the annual NaNoWriMo FPP and I can only apologise for its slightness. I realise that over in Projects, people vote based on perceived potential rather than proven substance (insert Obama/Nobel Prize joke here), so I can only ask for your indulgence as I try to flesh it out a bit. In fact, if any MeFites who are seasoned bloggers would like to offer me sage advice on the art form, I'll receive it gladly via MeMail.

In the meantime, this thread seems to be shaping up as a centre of excellence for bespoke erotica and the last thing I want to do is derail that particular freight train (juddering, steaming, thundering freight train, with beads of sweat glistening on its mighty flanks).
posted by him at 1:30 AM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


There was a time when I downloaded a bunch of Cory Doctorow's novels, thinking I read them on my iPod on my way to work. I never got a system that worked well enough on the little screen, and I am now glad that I didn't. I would have been really depressed that all my hard work ended up with ... that. Metrick f--kloads of internet catchwords, shoved together to make a story.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:15 AM on October 23, 2009


Metafilter: oh god oh god OH GOD I'M PINGIIIIING
posted by anastasiav at 7:32 AM on October 23, 2009


Dead Murder, Chapter 1: Detective Mike Mikeson drank a drink and then saw something very mysterious and wow my novel is terrible so far. (via)
posted by Taft at 9:32 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


How to write a series of novels badly well: start each novel with the same scene or element, without regard of how it fits into the stories. I'm looking at you, Wheel of Time. Why all that wind? (Maybe I'll recall more once re-reading the stories yet again.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:01 AM on October 23, 2009


I am totally sporting wood, and she tells me to take her bra off, YES!!!

So I reach around and after some fumbling, holy righteous titties they are out, and I start totally feeling her up.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:18 AM on October 24, 2009


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