Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Every Writer Needs: A Foul-Mouthed Checklist

While cruising writer submission guidelines, I stumbled upon Will Ludwigsen’s Foul-Mouthed Writer’s Checklist--and holy crap, is this awesome. I completely understand why an editor would put this in their guidelines, in fact, every editor should add this.

I'll highlight some of my favorite points, because as a reader (I make it a habit to read 1-2 short stories a day), I see these issues come up a lot. 

Is it told in a voice more engaging than an asshole zombie groaning for brains? 
 I'm starting to understand why some editors dislike first-person POV, because a good chunk of the stories out there lack any emotion. It's like a tour guide is telling the story (To the left you'll see a palm tree swaying in the breeze, and if you look to your right...) You would think the opposite for first-person, since that's supposedly the engaging POV, and maybe that's what the writer thought when they used it, without having a clue that you need voice for it to work. Most times, first-person is used as  gimmick to hide the character's name till the very end ... like that hasn't been done before.

I'm only picking on first-person, because it's always disappointing to see it written in such a bland way. At least with third-person, you have the excuse that it's an external, non-involved narrator telling the story. Of course, that's equally as boring to read. Just don't write bland POV's, please.

Does something fucking interesting happen, performed on the page with action and quotes and all that shit?
 It's really surprising to see stories published that have absolutely nothing happening. The characters wander around, express some thoughts, then ... yeah. The author can't even make an effort to end the story. (You know the ones, where the story just STOPS, and you're sitting their thinking: Where's the rest of it???) Then again, the stories that lack endings, tend to not have a story arc. Or maybe something does happen, but the reader hasn't a flippin' clue what it's about, why it's important, and why they should care. Which leads to...

Does the reader give a fuck at the end?
There's nothing more depressing than to get to the end of  a story and think: So what? Why did an author go through the trouble of stringing all these words together, only for me to not give a shit? I'm mean sure, I'll admire their vocabulary and writing technique, but in the end, those mean nothing if there isn't an engaging story.  

I also recommend Ludwigsen's The Surprising Power of Giving a Shit. A lot of great points he makes in that article. 


  1. That is excellent. I'm still laughing while typing this.

    1. I know, isn't it hilarious? I'm also checking out Ludwigsen's stories since he seems to know his shit.

  2. Great points, eloquently stated. I'm going through revisions right now, and it's frustrating to have just read a novel published by a MAJOR author with mistakes and poorly constructed POV on almost every page. Didn't he have an editor?