Category: Story Hacks

Story Hacks: Tenth in a Series

Did you know that when you describe something in terms of a color, you are also describing it in terms of symbolically? It’s true! Here are the many things that colors can represent in fiction.

  • Black: awesome death stuff, bad people, sex workers
  • Red: blood, bad people, sex workers
  • White: non-sex-workers (don’t overdo this)

That’s all! You can go home now.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: WHAT other colors

Story Hacks: Ninth in a Series

Bear with me, because this S is about to get C, but there are times when—by sheer demographic necessity, or just to be different—you may want to write about a female protagonist. “What?” I hear you say. “But then how will I make my readers care about anything that happens to her?” I know it seems impossible! But there is a simple solution to this problem: Sexism.

It seems hilarious now, but in the misty past of yore, Sexists ruled the land and would frequently make girls feel bad for not being as good as men. To subtly indicate that this controversy will be your subject matter, have a man smack your protagonist on purpose in her butt area, then join his friends for a group smirk over cigarettes. I bet your spunky chick blows her hair out of her face and looks mad to show that she didn’t like it! This is classic Sexisy, one of the three unforgivable narrative sins. (The other two are kicking a dog and saying the “f-word”) (“fat”)

Now that we know who the bad guys are—the Sexisms—and who the good guy is—the girl—have her secretly practice being just as good as a man at something only men are good at. She wants to show everyone what she can do, of course, but how can she? She has too many female emotions!

Fortunately she will meet her savior: a bad boy with a good man inside him, who can learn that women are people too once she beats him at archery or boxing or whatever. Then, when the evil sexist goes crazy but not exactly because of our heroine because she’s really not a troublemaker, she and her new boyfriend can team up to defeat the metaphor once and for all! Now your audience has learned that females can solve almost all their problems, with help from men. No more sexistry ever! GIRL POWER!

Did I mention that she should be super hot but in a kind of tomboy-y way? That’s important.

For bonus points, make the villain a mean lady, to show that really the whole problem is chick-on-chick violence. Now that you’ve solved sex, you can do the same thing with racism! Instead of a heroine, just substitute a hero who is not white, then whoops I am being thrown from a moving car at freeway speed

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: UNGH thudthudthudthud thud thud scraaaaape, CRACK



Story Hacks: Eighth in a Series

Know what I read about on hypallage? Wikipedia!


Hypallage is a thing where you can switch the order of words and it doesn’t matter because: poetry. They should make you get a license for this stuff! You can tell it’s very respectable because Virgil did it (he’s the airplanes rich guy, with the crazy). Some of his examples:

  • “Hers was the launch that shipped a thousand faces.”
  • “Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred,
    then another second, then a hundred thousand,
    then yet a more thousand hundred, then a whole thousand nother.
    Hold on, let me get a calculator.”
  • “Thad’s heart stared as he musked at Gloria, pounding deeply to mixture the taste of his delicate with her breath fragrance.”
  • “A plan, a can, a canal, a man–Panama!”

How can this help you as a wirter? It’s more than just a boring to sheen a gloss poetry the give of clause–it can contently produce the increase at which you significant rate. For instance, you could paste the sentence of the just in an order, then copy words and change. Alternatively, you could change the order of the words in a sentence, then just copy and paste! Trust me when I say that no editor is going to spend the time necessary to tease out that tangle. Ocne you get rlaely good, you wn’ot eevn have to ceorrct tyops!

There’s a special form of hypallage called “transferred epithet,” which refers specifically to moving an adjective to the wrong word. Or the word to the wrong adjective! You see this a lot when people refer to “J. D. Salinger’s classic Catcher in the Rye.” I’m not sure what the “classic” is actually supposed to apply to, I think it just depends.

Today’s Nut in a Fuckshell: Or syndered hacktax!

Story Hacks: Seventh in a Series

A limited word count is a great way to inspire creativity. But don’t let that turn you off to it! It also makes for an excellent back-cover hook.

First, pick an arbitrary number and cling to it with the focus of a brain-damaged pit bull. Second, write! Having trouble? Apply our patented methods to shave back your flow:

  • Avoid topics you know anything about.
  • Skip the beginning, end, and, preferably, the middle.
  • Utilize compoundwords and contraction’s!
  • Or just entirely!

Above all, don’t be too strict with yourself. Nobody’s going to fucking count them.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Tdyshcknantshll!

Story Hacks: Sixth in a Series

Pronouns? More like don’t-nouns!

Sure, you can use pronouns if you have to, like if you’re addressing someone in the second person and don’t know what real name to use. But here’s an AlternaTip–just imagine up a real name for your audience! For example, I’m going to call you Laura. Isn’t that better, Laura? (I bet that somewhere somebody’s reading this who actually is named Laura and they think it’s so awesome. Laura: it totally is!)

The real “Pronoun Problem” is that they’re so short. Pronouns reduce not only page count, but often word count as well! Plus, if you (Laura) have more than one person of a given gender in a story, pronouns might refer to any of them, reducing the laser-like accuracy of Laura’s sentences. And such ambiguity can lead to worse things, like speculation, or interpretation! These serious flaws may even prevent consumers from properly receiving your (Laura’s) Vision.

FACT: The previous paragraph was 56% shorter before I took out all the pronouns. FACT!

Writing without pronouns (or “liprography”) may not come easily at first, Laura, but it can be done–with enough AccomPracticeMent. Here’s an example to get Laura started!

“As you know, Kevir, today is your wedding day and it is a very important day for all of Pseudio,” said Kevir’s Mom seriously.

“Yes, serious Mom,” said Kevir to Kevir’s Mom. “It’s because I’m marrying the Princess Launa, the most famed Princess in the Land, who loves Kevir’s Mom just as if you, Kevir’s Mommy, were Launa’s own Issues Mommy!”

“I do!!!!!” Princess Launa began saying to Kevir’s Mommy. “You, Kevir, and I, Launa, are almost like your Mommy’s son and daughter!”

“Which is as it should be,” said Kevir’s Serious Mommy. “After all, no woman can truly love you, Kevir, unless she, Launa, is family!”

“Kevin’s Mom is right,” exclaimed Kevir.

“All of us love each other, but not necessarily in any sexual manner!!!!!” said Kevin’s Serious Fucking Mommy Issues.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Laura, seriously, give me a call because I have this screenplay and there might be a part for you.

Story Hacks: Fifth in a Series

There’s one thing every writer agrees on: child abuse is great!

Not real child abuse, of course. Real child abuse is tragic, and people who don’t love all its victims unconditionally are hideous monsters and probably pederasts themselves. This makes it very easy to find abusers in real life. Haven’t you ever asked your friends whether they’d spank their kids? Trick question! Good writers have no friends.

The thing that makes child abuse great in fiction, though, is that it’s worth infinity points on the badness-goodness scale. Is your hero not sympathetic enough? Do your readers say she’s “selfish” or “disturbingly violent” or “clearly you with your name spelled differently?” Reveal a history of abuse to explain everything forever! Or maybe you have an antagonist who just isn’t sufficiently evil–“I don’t think Wicca is that bad,” your readers might say, or “you psychopath, stop reading this garbage and let me go.” But make your villain a pedophile and watch their eyes glimmer with hate!

Aren’t you glad we’ve discovered this technique together? It’s like our own special secret! Just remember not to let anyone else know about it.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Black and white is one color too many!

Story Hacks: Fourth in a Series

Most magazines pay by the word, but sometimes even doubling up on your adverbs won’t help you break that magic-million mark. How else can you fill the pages you’ll need to pay down that Porsche? That, dear wreater, is why Gutenberg invented the dream sequence.

Ooh! Dreeeeam sequence!

Some authors choose to “reverse-engineer”* one of the many sober, objective dream interpretation books on the market. If one wants to symboblize a penis, for example, one could use a snake, a pencil, a toothbrush, a remote control, a key, the letter I, or any of thousands of vaguely cylindrical objects we encounter every day. After all, our formative years were spent around lots of penises! Am I right? I’m right.

Of course, interpretative books with scanty indexing may require significant work to find the right symbiology. As we should know by now, work is the opposite of writing! Instead, google “dream journal” and grab about two things from every result you find. Don’t forget to change the names–unless you forget on purpose!

To help you get started, here are some useful common elements:

  • Uncles
  • Running but not going anywhere (isn’t that scary? It’s scary!)
  • A hunchback
  • Your mom
  • This one house you went to but now it looks completely different
  • Freud seriously said your mom
  • Nudity
  • People who are also other people
  • Freud was like the Tupac of his generation, kids

Once you’re published, your consumers may pay a lot of attention to your dream sequences. If they don’t like what they find there, remind them that it’s just a dream! It doesn’t mean anything! Except hilarity! If they claim that you’re just writing nonsense to pad your word count, point out that it is way deeper than them, and that they just don’t get your symbliography. It’s true.

* Translation: “drive backwards.”

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Nothing you can “wrighte” is “wronge!”

Story Hacks: Third in a Series

Most professional writers have a cutesy answer to the common question “where do you get your ideas?” They’ll say things like “I don’t know,” or “stop asking me that,” or “I make them up, okay? I make them up.” Hilarious! But unhelpful nonsense all the same.

While every writer must groom and harvest his or her own individual muse-lines, it’s important to have the old standards as a fallback. That’s right–every writer in the world started out with the same closely guarded set of idea sources! Story Hacks had to break a solemn Writer’s Oath to bring you these, but here they are:

  • In the future, put the ideas for things you’ve already written into reverse time capsules. Open them now!
  • Eat a bunch of alphabet soup without chewing and throw it up real fast.
  • Call (818) 775-3993 and request extension 1013. When someone answers, say “we know the truth, Jaleel,” and hang up. An envelope will be slipped under your door in three to five business days.
  • Find a police officer, and hit him until he gives you some good ones!
  • Using the ancient art of misanthropomancy, divine your ideas from the entrails of your slaughtered enemies.*

    *Note: if short on enemies, try previous method.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Why think when you can follow instructions!

Story Hacks: Second in a Series

The most important source of material for a writer is autobiography. After all, if it actually happened to you, it is by definition realistic! Realism is the most important thing in writing.

The trouble is that some people don’t like reading books that are obviously about the author. Fortunately, since such people are pretty dumb, you can throw them off the hook in one easy step. Let’s say it together: “gender swap!”

You didn’t say it!

If you’re male, make your protagonist female. If you’re female, make your protagonist male. If neither of these applies to you, no worries–that just means you’ve got twice as many options!

  • Advanced Hint: For a little harmless extra zing, try making your character homosexual. It could conceivably get your stock double-shelved into the Lifestyles section. Plus, you won’t have to do the gender swap again when you recount your old relationships! You should probably put something in about how you always felt different. Consumers love that stuff.

Above all, relax and don’t worry. Nobody will question your sexuality for any of this. Now get in the car.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Men and women are pretty much the same, although whichever one you are is cooler!

Story Hacks: First in a Series

Want to establish that a character is weird and emotionally vacant? Have him count things! This works because everyone has seen Rain Man, or references to it on Animaniacs.

Example One

Topaz opened the door at Jake’s knock. “Oh hey,” she said. “Glad you found it. Sorry about the stairs.”

“I don’t see how you walk up those every day,” panted Jake. “Whew.”

Example Two

Topaz opened the door at Jake’s knock. “Oh hey,” she said. “Glad you found it. Sorry about the stairs.”

“The staircase is very long,” Jake agreed. “It has one hundred and seven steps.”

Now, which of these Jakes is deranged? I bet you already know!

It’s the second one.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: It is impossible to like numbers and still have feelings!