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(SNN) - Recently I was asked what advice I might give to someone who wanted to become a professional writer. Since 'bash-your-head-in' wasn't an option, here is that advice. 

  • Read. Write. Repeat.
  • Ask yourself if a life of poverty is one that you can fully embrace. 
  • Learn to write well about sex. People always like to read about sex. 
  • Conflict! Gotta have it. Can't live without it.  
  • Writers are very good at procrastinating when they should be writing. But make your procrastinating something positive. Like telling people how to write when you should be writing yourself. 
  • Marry rich.
  • Don't read bad writing. You'll absorb it and end up in advertising. 
  • If you don't drink already, start. It won't make you a better writer but the dissipation will help convince others you are an excellent writer. "So tragic how liquor is ruining his talent."
  • If you are unfamiliar with a topic you wish to write a novel about, write in the first person and make your protagonist someone who is also unfamiliar with the topic. Then Google your ass off. 
  • Don't show off by using Brogdingnagian words when smaller ones will do. 
  • Consider therapy. Not to help you become a better writer, but to try to figure out why, in these illiterate times, you hate yourself so damn much you wish to become one. 
  • There is nothing wrong with the word "said." It's what should follow those quoted things from your characters. He said. She said. Don't agonize over synonyms for it. Nobody reads a book because the author is a master of words used to describe the way the dialogue was enunciated. Also, when you want to emphasize that a character whispered, uttered, snarled, growled, shouted or mumbled something, it will stand out. 
  • Rock a pipe. Ditch the iPad, carry a portable Remington. Ask if anyone knows where you can buy a fresh ribbon for it. 
  • Kill those adverbs. Make them suffer before they die, he said advisedly.
  • Spelling is not impotent.
  • If someone asks you what do you recommend they read to become a better writer, tell them: "Simplicissimus: The life of an odd vagrant named Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim: namely where and in what manner he came into this world, what he saw, learned, experienced, and endured therein; also why he again left it of his own free will" by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. They will never pester you again.

John "Cork" Corcoran. Visit Cork's websites here and here. Connect with: "John Pesky Corcoran" on Facebook and "@OldCootCork" on Twitter

Unaltered Photo: Some Right Reserved by Ritesh Nayak flickr photostream, The Sage nor this article endorsed. The original image can be found here.


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