Stop the Lousy Writing, Please!

Again, yet again, I plead with my fellow fantasy novelists: enough already with the rotten writing! Please don’t do it anymore. Please!

Do what? Please lay off the following:

Don’t try to write your book as if it were a graphic novel–that is, a flaming comic book. Just for once try to write as if you thought grownups might read it.

Don’t make all your characters talk like you think teenagers talk. Come on, now–a lot of teens are nowhere near as dumb as all that, and the ones who are, are not going to read anything anyway. Do try to lift your dialogue some distance above the level of a text message.

Don’t resort to the bleeding obvious. I mean, don’t call the bad guys “bad” or “diabolical” or “reprehensible,” etc. Don’t editorialize about your characters. “And then the nefarious villain, Maalox the Dwarf, snickered evilly, distorting his tremendously ugly face, and spoke with unpardonable disrespect to the beautiful princess with nice knockers and incredibly lovely blond hair that was like something indescribably beautiful, ‘Hah! You’re all tied up, now you can’t do your jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks…” If I never again read anything like this, it’ll be too soon.

Try to avoid, in your narrative passages, such contemporary slang terms as “taking them out” or “being there for her” or “got a problem with that,” and all the rest, too depressingly numerous to mention.

Please don’t write like this anymore. It gives fiction a bad name, and contributes to the non-development of the reader’s brain. It might even actually kill off brain cells–we’re waiting for the research to be published.


About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

22 responses to “Stop the Lousy Writing, Please!

  • Linda Sorci

    Bravo, Lee! I certainly hope ‘Abner’ read this.

  • Laura

    Once upon a time in a magnificent kingdom where all the characters dressed like Lord of the Rings and talked like Twitter users, there was a princess who was never in distress, a mage who only talked in riddles, and a thief who was good at heart. The three of them went on an amazing quest full of sarcastic dragons, sarcastic sidekicks, sarcastic bad guys, and annoying parents. The quest was quite a modern one, their goal being to find a magical object that would prevent the diabolical threat of Global Warming. Along the way they encountered homophobia, xenophobia, some nasty hunters who could only think about killing innocent animals, and Donald Trump. They overcame all these trials with the help of new policies such as anti-bullying and anti-micro-aggression, and copious amounts of lawsuits. In the end, they found the magical object and the world went into a utopia.

  • Jaroc Swift

    By the way, Mr. Duigon, I have finished the Temple now. I thought it was fantastic. Better than all the others. The editor did a good job of clearing the errors and it had a good plot.

  • weavingword

    Lee, I guarantee that when you get around to reading Ancient Voices, there won’t be ANY of these things in it. 🙂

  • Susie

    Oh my, we most certainly do not speak in the childish ways that many authors write with now. Yes there is slang, but half the time writers like that use it in a way that feels forced. My mom always tells me it is hard to write something simple and still get the point across. Seems like most writers insist on not taking heed of that advice.

    • leeduigon

      Well, Susie, at least some of us adults know that teenagers are perfectly capable of speaking sensibly, cogently, and carrying on an enjoyable conversation. If they were half as dull as a lot of adult fantasy writers make them out to be, they’d be turned to stone by the time they were 25.

  • programmer1971

    Good rant Lee. Sad that its true so much of new writing needs some filtering – but after removing the obvious bad forms you mentioned.. what would be left? Maybe that is a good test – we could make an app that scans for and removes such in new texts – and if anything useful was left, grade the writing on that amount versus the total word count.. then the app would say this book had a 67% good versus another which had only 33% good…. just thinking out loud, but your points are so true on some I have seen. We should not have to wade thru such tripe to find the “meat” of a work.
    Mike Nichols

  • thewhiterabbit2016

    Wow, great comments. Where are these contributors of 2015 today? Please come back and join us!!

  • UnKnowable

    Our modern Pop culture has definitely eroded the standards we used to have. When I go to the convenience store for lunch, I’m amazed by how overly familiar the clerks are. It’s as if they are characters in this modern fiction, or at least think that they are.

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