Monday, January 17, 2011

The Guaranteed Results Writing Advice You've Been Waiting For

I have seen a lot of rock-solid short story writing advice the last few days. Christie Yant blogged about what she's learned in a year reading and editing stories at Lightspeed. Mercedes Yardley posted about what she's learned reading slush at Shock Totem. I even attempted a post a week or so ago. But these tidbits of information aren't going to win you the instant success you're looking for. Neither of these ladies is laying it out straight.

Well, it's time for some straight dope. No lying. No cutting corners. This is what it takes to succeed writing short fiction in the spec fic genre marketplace. Follow the steps, and you'll be delivering your Hugo acceptance in no time.

1. Locate the nearest crossroads. From my house, I'd probably pick the on-ramp just west of the Ross Island Bridge, where Highway 26 touches I5 southbound. Another good alternative might be the intersection of Powell Boulevard (Highway 26) and 82nd Ave, since that street is also Highway 213.

2. Locate a living chicken. That's easy. My neighbor has three and they're usually eating birdseed underneath my birdfeeder.

3. Bring chicken to crossroads. This is tricky, since I don't have a pet carrier, and all animals need to be crated to ride the bus. But no serious problem--I'll just borrow one from my sister.

4. Wait until midnight. Luckily, Carl's Jr here on the corner is open until pretty late. I can probably keep myself awake drinking Mt Dew and eating french fries. The chicken would probably appreciate the fries a lot, too.

5. Call upon the powers of darkness. There are plenty to choose from. Satan's always a good choice, as Beezelbub is really into flies, which have those dirty little feet, and the Elder Gods are just really slimy. But if you're willing to put some research into it, I'm sure you can find the right evil demon or underworld-dwelling god to fit your own needs.

6. Light a candle. Or better yet, a bonfire. Evil gods like fire. So do good ones. Pyromania goes hand in hand with omnipotence, I think. It explains why so many men enjoy barbequeing.

7. Sacrifice your chicken and surrender your soul in return for literary success. Ahh, crap. I'm a vegetarian! I can't kill a chicken! Take my soul, please--I don't need it. Wait! Elder Gods! I didn't mean what I said about the slime. Come back!

Come baaaaack!

Damn it. Well, it looks like I'm going to miss out on next year's Hugo ceremony. On the plus side, though, my neighbor still likes me, and I'm totally wound up on caffeine.


Draven Ames said...

I think this is funny. So you are in Portland? I'm there to. If you would ever want to network or anything, let me know. I've had some success, but only in magazines as of now. It will come with hard work. Perhaps we could help one another.

Eric Satchwill said...

I wonder, would playing with a lighter at the KFC on the corner qualify? And can I sell someone else's soul, or does it have to be mine?

Awesome post by the way, so much fun!

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

What can I get for a can of tuna at a cul-de-sac?

Jay Lake said...

Hahah. This is so going in tomorrow's Link Salad.

:: waves from deep SE Portland ::

Anonymous said...

Darn it, I always forget the "call upon the powers of darkness" step. Of course that is important. Tinfoil hats also speed the process along.

This was so clever! Loved it! :D


Cate Gardner said...

Ha! Brilliant post. I shall of course follow all the steps to the letter.

Erin Stocks said...

Hahahahahah, AWESOME.

And PS: You should really charge for advice like this.

Off to find some creatures.

Crystal said...

A reminder for the hundreds of you who are also going to try this:

If your nearest crossroads is a freeway entrance ramp, wear reflective tape. Trust me on that one.

Nice post! I think you might be onto something...