Chapter One – Prewriting
Come up with the seed of an idea. Ponder on it; think about it; dream about it. Get to know your characters and listen to them. They’ll tell you the story. Do some research to learn about the subjects you’ll need to know to build your world. If you need an explanation as to why that’s important, you have no business trying to write fiction. Also, read. A lot.
Build as much of an outline as you need to get started. Do what works for you. If you don’t know yet, do something and see how it goes. If that doesn’t work, scrap it and try something else. Keep all your notes; bookmark internet pages; scribble on napkins; text yourself. Have some kind of plan before you start writing.
Chapter Two – Writing
Find the self-discipline to write every day, at least four or five days a week. Set realistic weekly page goals and meet them. Always remember, if you create one page a day every day five days a week, at the end of the year, you’ll have a complete rough draft. So stop making excuses and go write. Don’t wait for next November. Start today. Try to write at the same time and place if you can. If that doesn’t work for you, write when and where you can.
Don’t worry about mistakes. You’re going to make them. Lots of them. If you worry about mistakes you’ll never finish anything. Just write. Allow yourself to take chances and fail. Write stupid crap; write incoherent nonsense; write long-winded, poetic sentences full of symbolism; write short, declarative sentences; write awful dialogue. Just write and don’t think about it.
Listen to your characters and write what they tell you. Don’t interrupt them; damn sure, don’t contradict them; listen to them. They know the story better than you ever will. Trust them.
Chapter Three – Rewriting
Let someone read your rough draft and rip it to pieces. Some people prefer working one-on-one; others prefer writing groups. Do what works for you. Let them bleed all over it and put your ego in check. Your ego is stupid and selfish and doesn’t care about your story. Look closely at the feedback; ponder it; weigh it. Fix what you agree with. Keep what you don’t believe needs changing as long as it’s not your stupid ego talking.
Find all of that crap and nonsense and terrible dialogue you let yourself write and fix it. Make it sound like you’re telling the story to your best friend. Polish. Polish some more. Put it away for a few weeks and then polish even more. Care about the quality of what you created. Have some pride and passion about your work. Love it like a child.
Chapter Four – Publishing
Good luck. Don’t get discouraged.
Chapter Five – Promoting
Pester the hell out of everyone you know to read your book. Repeat often. Be proud of what you’ve done. Make others want to read it. Or tell them it’s not for them. Sometimes that works, too.
Chapter Six – Repeating
Repeat chapters one through five until your brain deteriorates too much to continue. Then, retire.
This is all you need to know. Don’t waste $70,000 on graduate school. Read some good books instead. Especially nonfiction. Nonfiction will feed your brain better than fiction sometimes. If anyone tries to sell you a creative writing manual, ask them why they have to make a living selling creative writing manuals. If anyone tries to tell you they know the one correct way to write, slap the shit out of them and never listen to anything they say again. That person is either really stupid or a cult leader. Don’t waste time on either. If your ego ever tells you you’ve learned all you need to know about writing, tell it to go to hell. Your ego is stupid.
The excitement around Knoxville is palpable as football fans await Athletic Director Dave Hart’s scheduled press conference to announce UT’s next head football coach. Talk radio is abuzz with rumors and speculation on who the next scapegoat will be, and some fans have already created signs for the home opener calling for the coach’s resignation.
“It’s just great to have so much anticipation,” says Slosh D. Frat III, a third year freshman and lifelong fan. “Since Dooley got fired, I haven’t gotten to hate a coach for a whole week. Knowing that there’s a new guy just days away. Well, I just almost can’t stand it.”
Asked if there’s any chance he’ll like the new coach, Slosh was contemplative.
“If it’s Gruden, I’ll give him until spring ball before I turn on him. Other than that, I’ll pretty much start screaming for him to be fired that afternoon.”
Other Vol fans echo the sentiment.
“We have a tradition to uphold,” says Iggy Norant, long-time talk radio enthusiast. “Around the nation, we are known as some of the loudest, most uninformed sports fans in college athletics. ESPN has long heralded us as the dumbest, and we have to keep up that tradition. I’ve been a part of running off two head coaches and one coordinator already, and I can’t wait to run off the next guy!”
When asked how the fans’ rabid and rampant intolerance for rebuilding a program mired in mediocrity might impact future recruiting, Norant was incredulous.
“Recruits don’t care who the coach is!” he bellowed. “They come here because of the school’s tolerance of criminal behavior.”
Officials at the university were unavailable for comment, as they were conducting a seminar warning the student body of the perils of butt-chugging. However, in a prepared statement, the school states that it is ready to fire the next coach as soon as boosters give them the approval and the funds to pay off the buyout clause.
Amid the speculation, two names have surfaced as leading candidates for the position. Jon Gruden, Super Bowl winning coach and current Monday Night Football color guy, is considered the fan favorite because of his deep ties to the university, including his marriage to a former UT cheerleader and his cousin’s best friend’s neighbor’s plumber helping institute butt-chugging on fraternity row.
“Jon’s practically an alum,” beams Norant.
However, one name has both sports fans and scientists excited. According to an unnamed source with close ties to important people associated with big-time boosters, geneticists at the university have cloned General Robert Neyland from hair fibers and plan to have his growth accelerated in order to have him ready for recruiting season.
“I’m not sure who this Bob guy is, but he doesn’t have much experience at the SEC level,” Norant said. ”We fans will have him on a very short leash. It would be kind of cool to have a coach with the same name as the stadium, though.”
With that, Iggy Norant excused himself, stating that it was time for him to call into the first of the five talk radio shows to which he’s a regular contributor.
BREAKING NEWS: Local teacher lauded as hero for taking sick day.
After waking up feeling incapable of facing another day lecturing slack-jawed, apathetic students with no thirst for knowledge, Jeffrey Burntout made a heroic decision that has all of education abuzz with praise. He called in sick and sat on his sofa all day, wearing only his bathrobe and watching “Law and Order” reruns. Burntout, a high school history teacher, explains his decision candidly:
“Well, if I’d gone to work that day and saw one more student playing on their smart phone instead of listening to my lecture on the Civil War, I might have strangled them right on the spot, so I felt it was best for everyone involved if I just stayed home. These kids are dumb, really dumb, and they’ve sucked all the joy out of sharing the history of our great nation, a subject I once felt so passionate about. Now, I contemplate complex murder-suicide plots almost daily. I just needed a day to myself without grading answers that claim Snoop Dogg convinced Obama to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Burntout has received praise from virtually everyone associated with his school district from the principal to the State Comptroller for Educational Financing.
“It’s really remarkable, what he said,” claims Beanie Counter, the State Comptroller. ”A complex murder-suicide inside the classroom could’ve cost the state millions in litigation, so really, his action of calling in sick is truly admirable. I personally have nominated him for Teacher of the Year.”
“This is a great day for education,” adds Dr. Jen Touchyfeely, Professor of Emotional Studies in California. ”Who could calculate the emotional toll a complex murder-suicide would have had on the students, teachers, and administrators who survived the attack? Burntout is an inspiration to all of us.”
Dr. Lottastatz of the Center for Researching Research also hails Mr. Burntout’s actions as heroic:
“The numbers are quite clear. 99.9% of all teachers today contemplate murder, suicide, or murder-suicide on a daily basis. The remaining .1% have been on the job for less than a week, so his actions provide hope to all that a day of lounging on the couch can be a healthy outlet for teachers who have to deal with the dumbest generation in American history. I’m not just speaking in anecdotal terms here, either. The research shows that without their smart phones and laptops, these kids would get lost in their own bedrooms.”
Even Mr. Burntout’s students condone his actions, as illustrated by Natalie Erehead, class valedictorian and student in Burntout’s AP American History during fourth block.
“Like, really, it was so much easier to text with the sub in the room. Mr. Burntout knows all our little tricks, so it was a great stress relief for all of us not to have to come up with new ways to hide our phones instead of listening to stories that have nothing to do with Lady GaGa or ‘Jersey Shore.’ I hope…”
At that, her phone buzzed and Erehead’s eyes glazed over as she frantically typed her response to a message about the socks a sophomore had worn that day.
“Can you believe someone wore matching socks on Mismatch Monday? Stupid sophomores.”
The Bureau of Educational Bureaucracy even supports Mr. Burntout’s sick day. In a recent press conference, the BEB hails him as the best and brightest of all teachers today, putting the needs of the system above his own desires to strangle a student. In its statement, the BEB describes how murdered students do not count at the end of the year, so by taking a day off, Mr. Burntout kept the passing ratio above Federal guidelines, thus ensuring funding for his school.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” Burnout says. ”I’m just one of many dedicated teachers trapped in a broken system, but I really enjoyed the ‘Law and Order’ marathon. They showed some old episodes when Michael Moriarty was still the Assistant DA. Those are my favorites. The show was much grittier back then. If you’ll excuse me, I have a stack of tests to grade, and the BEB gets awfully upset if I don’t accept answers that Snooki led the march for women’s rights.”
With that, I left Mr. Burntout to his work, grateful to know that our nation’s future is in the hands of so many dedicated professionals.
Editor’s Note: the BEB has read and approved this message as a positive portrayal of the All Children Left Behind and Race to a Stop Acts.
Warning: potentially offensive material ahead.
BREAKING NEWS: In a press conference from his corporate headquarters in Toledo, Ohio this morning, Satan announced that he has completed construction on his “special place” in hell for the king of shock-jocks, Rush Limbaugh. Though vague on all the details, the devil did describe that Limbaugh will be required to wait tables for an exclusive clientele of well-educated, African-American women, will be denied access to all forms of pain medication, and will have to listen to a non-stop loop of Yanni’s Greatest Hits. Satan assured the liberal media in attendance that Limbaugh’s hearing will be restored to full health upon his arrival in the underworld.
“We all know there have been worse people in the history of humanity,” the Prince of Darkness stated. ”Hitler comes to mind, as does Pol Pot, but from his overt racism, misogyny, homophobia, and megalomania, Limbaugh has earned this little corner of hell.”
After the press conference, the devil fielded questions from the biased journalists on hand, most of whom pleaded for more details about Limbaugh’s pending punishments.
“Look, I can’t give away too many of the family secrets,” Satan responded. ”We’ve been in the business of torturing twisted souls for thousands of years, but recently, there’s been an upswing in competition from international conglomerates. I have to protect my proprietary property or risk falling behind in this increasingly crowded field. But I can assure you, Rush will spend all of eternity with smoldering cigars wedged between the fatty folds of his ass cheeks. That’s as much detail as I’m going to give, so don’t ask again.”
After the press conference, I scurried to South Carolina to get the reaction of Joseph Cartwright III, himself a long-time conservative talk radio host and blogger.
“Well, you know, when the advertising dollars start to dry up, you’re done in this business,” Cartwright said. ”I guess Rush will have to pay for no longer making lots of people lots of money.”
Confused and bewildered, I stared blankly.
“It’s simple, really,” he continued, noticing my expression. ”As long as hate speech is profitable, the powers that be turn a blind eye, but as soon as the money stops rolling in, everyone turns on you. It’s a tough business, spreading hate and backwards thinking, but there is a lot of money to be made in stirring up the worst of people’s emotions. Now that Rush is declining, I’m hoping for national syndication.”
Uncertain if Cartwright was onto something or completely insane, I headed to Mississippi to speak with Konrad K. Kristian, business leader and Tea Party activist. If anyone understood Rush Limbaugh, it would be him.
“I just don’t know what to make of this here world,” Kristian said, tears in his eyes. ”Jesus was quite clear that we need to hate fags and coloreds, but now Rush is gonna be punished for following the Scriptures. I just don’t understand.”
Touched by his display of compassion for a man doomed to an eternity of Yanni, I asked if he needed a moment.
“No, I’ll pray about this tonight, and I’m certain tomorrow we’ll find out this was all just a hoax by them liberal media bastards. They’re out to get all us who follow the Word of hating them that ain’t right, and I know the good Lord will clear this right up.”
Editor’s Note: Any reference to Satan, the devil, the Prince of Darkness, and hell was approved by Eternal Damnation, Inc. of Toledo, Ohio. No part of this article may be reprinted or reproduced whatsoever without a blood-signed, notarized release from EDI and an official sacrifice of a virgin goat under a waning crescent moon.
Warning: Recently The Ramblings of D. A. Adams engaged in subversive activity with its disparaging mockery of current student engagement and grade enhancement methodologies. We at the Bureau of Educational Bureaucracy find this kind of insubordination abhorrent and unfounded. The current policies and guidelines proposed by the BEB and then adopted and mandated by individual states represent thousands of hours of research by administrative professionals, who through rigorous study of theory and abstract concept, understand classroom paradigms more clearly than mere teachers. In fact, current teacher evaluation procedures were written by an administrator not sullied by the cumbersome and mentally taxing burden of in-class experience. Therefore, the procedures more clearly define teacher expectations through an unfiltered lens.
As a result of his subversion, D. A. Adams has been taken to an undisclosed location for advanced re-education protocol and, given the re-education is successful, should return to this blog sometime after the next election cycle. Until then, his replacement, Dr. Bohrdem Tatears, will entertain you with PowerPoint presentations of flow charts for proper use of humor within the social hierarchy of future corporate-modeled educational systems. Remember, humor is a dangerous tool and, like all tools, should only be wielded by trained professionals.
Editor’s Note: We at The Ramblings of D. A. Adams were unaware that Mr. Adams was involved in such deviant behavior and apologize for his disparaging criticism of BEB policies. His views are not reflective of the respect and admiration we hold for the All Children Left Behind and Race to a Stop Acts.
Due to increased the standards of the All Children Left Behind and Race to a Stop Acts, the Bureau of Educational Bureaucracy has implemented the following guidelines for evaluating student performance. All faculty members must adhere to these guidelines without question in order to improve our educational rankings among developed nations.
Section 1 – Does the student attend class regularly and refrain from disruptive behavior? If yes, refer to Article 1-.01A. If no, refer to Section 2.
Section 2 – Does the student attend class semi-regularly and refrain from drooling while asleep and/or defecating themselves during class time? If yes, refer to Article 2-.02A. If no, refer to Section 3.
Section 3 – Does the defecation have a foul odor? If yes, refer to Article 3-.o3A. If no, refer to Section 4.
Section 4 – Is the student armed? If yes, refer to Section 5. If no, refer to Section 6.
Section 5 – Is the student a proficient marksman? If yes, refer to Article 2-.o2A. If no, refer to Article 3-.o3A.
Section 6 – Has the instructor made every attempt to meet the emotional needs of the student? If yes, refer to Section 7. If no, refer to Article 2-.o2A.
Section 7 – Has the instructor simplified the material adequately to engage students on their level of proficiency? If yes, refer to Article 3-.o3A. If no, refer to Section 8.
Section 8 – Has the instructor attempted doing the work for the students? If yes, refer to Article 3-.o3A. If no, please report to the Bureau of Educational Bureaucracy for immediate reassignment.
Article 1-.01A – Pass them with an A.
Article 2-.o2A – Pass them with an A.
Article 3-.o3A – Convince them to withdraw from the institution so their numbers don’t count against us.
Remember, student performance is a direct reflection on your ability to teach. Following these guidelines will make you a more efficient teacher and improve the long-term sustainability of our workforce development.
The Ramblings of D. A. Adams, using award winning investigatory journalistic techniques such as surfing the internet and reading anonymous forwarded emails, has unearthed a shocking story of epic proportions that threatens to crumble the very foundations of our republic.
The Twilight saga is a covert plot by the Chinese to drive Americans insane.
Shocked and appalled that such a masterpiece of literary and cinematic genius could be a weapon of international espionage, I rushed to Washington to learn more about this unfolding crisis.
“The numbers are quite clear,” claims Dr. Lottastatz of the Center for Researching Research. ”Since the release of the first Twilight book in 2005, levels of insanity in America are up 275%. With the release of each subsequent book and movie, we see a clear upward trend in the data. It’s quite alarming.”
Concerned for national security, I hurried to the CIA to speak with my inside source within the intelligence community.
“We’ve known about this plot since as early as [classified],” states [classified]. ”Stephenie Meyer’s real name is Som Dom Chik, and she entered this country on a work visa in [classified] and assimilated into American culture. We only learned of the plot in [classified] because [classified classified classified classified classified]. As you can see, it’s quite alarming.”
Unnerved by this top secret information, I hurried to Jones Creek, Georgia, home of Morbul Shidinski, currently America’s foremost literary scholar and critic, hoping her insights could help unravel this conspiracy.
“Contextually speaking, on a surface level, the Twilight series seems to be what we deem ‘purple prose.’ However, after deconstructing the sub-contextual layers, we find an intricate web of literary devices layered together in a specific chronology that is ideal for evoking a negative psychological reaction, known clinically as Sparkle Induced Psychosis, in its readers. Furthermore, the true brilliance of the work is that these devices are so powerful that one does not necessarily have to read the text to be affected by them. Merely hearing them described by an infected person is enough to render an otherwise sane individual completely bonkers.”
Now terrified for the future of this great nation, I raced back to Washington and the Center for Researching Research, seeking an antidote for this growing pandemic.
“As of now, we’ve only found one way to reverse the psychosis, but it’s controversial, to say the least,” states Dr. Lottastatz. ”The subjects we’ve tested who were exposed to Sparkle Induced Psychosis respond positively when forced to watch reruns of The Munsters non-stop for 72 hours. Apparently, the creators of that show were aware that the Soviets had originally designed the Twilight Plan in the 50′s and created Herman Munster as a counter-measure. Fred Gwynne was secretly a CIA operative who developed a comedic styling that numbs the frontal lobe, decreasing levels of psychosis. We have a contingency plan in place to have every TV channel to run episodes of The Munsters non-stop for two weeks. It may be our only hope.”
Editor’s Note: Due to the highly classified nature of this information, no portion of this article has been verified or confirmed by anyone, anywhere.
I’m all for personal accountability. We should all be responsible for our actions as adults, and even to some degree as adolescents. Personally, I maintain that people who choose to abuse our systems should be punished accordingly. However, recently, I’ve heard many conservatives, some friends others politicians or pundits, say that in our current economic situation, the people who are unemployed or under-employed should not blame Wall Street or Corporate America for the economy. They should blame themselves and hold themselves accountable for their conditions. After all, there are successful people, even in this economy, and many of them are self-made. If they can do it, anyone can, or so they say. Nevermind about outsourcing or offshore bank holdings or toxic assets. Those have not contributed one iota to our current economic situation, they maintain. Therefore, following that logic, I’ve decided to apply the laissez-faire model to other areas of society, and here is what I’ve come up with.
Drug dealers should not be punished for selling drugs, even to minors. After all, dealers are only responding to market conditions. The demand exists, so they should have the opportunity to peddle their wares in whatever manner produces a profit. The blame lies squarely with the users. If people were not so lazy and ignorant as to get involved with drugs in the first place, there would not be a need for dealers. As to the act of selling drugs to minors or on school grounds, again the dealers are only responding to market pressures. Competition requires that they expand their markets to maintain profitability. Therefore, the government should keep the meddling to itself and leave dealers alone.
Drunk drivers should not be punished for driving intoxicated, even if they murder a family on its way home from dinner. The sober should be more aware that drunks occupy the highways and should take appropriate action to avoid being struck by someone who is merely trying to get home after a fun night on the town. What right does the government have to tell a person what they can or cannot do behind the wheel of their own car? No, the responsibility clearly falls on the sober to avoid putting themselves in situations where a drunk driver may be occupying the road.
Teachers should not be held accountable for failing to instruct their students properly in the classroom. The fault lies solely on students and their parents for choosing to take a course from an incompetent teacher. If students do not receive a quality education, they should have taken the course from someone else. There are other schools out there. Parents and students should be more proactive in finding out ahead of time if the teachers in their schools are up to standards. The government has no right to encroach on a teacher’s right to conduct class in whatever manner seems fit. They were hired for the job, so there should be no oversight into how well they are performing in those roles.
I could keep going, but clearly, I’ve made my point. Only the victims of improper behavior should be held accountable for their actions. They need to learn to be more aware of their environments and not put themselves in situations where a drug dealer or drunk driver can cause them harm. After all, I made it home safely last night without being killed by an impaired driver, and if you didn’t, it’s all your fault.
No one could’ve predicted this would end badly, a convicted felon with a penchant for guns and predatory wildlife. I mean, how could anyone foresee a bad end to such a stable environment? For answers to this tragic enigma wrapped in a blanket of conundrums, I rushed to Washington to speak with my old friend, Billy Joe Oilmoney, himself an avid gun collector and hunter.
“Well, it sure is a mystery,” he said, scratching his head. ”No one could’ve predicted such a tragedy. This here is a perfect example of why we don’t need regulations of any kind. If a law-abiding gun owner can’t set loose his collection of lions and bears on unsuspecting neighbors without being criticized for it, that ain’t the kind of America I want to live in.”
I politely reminded Senator Oilmoney that the owner was a convicted felon.
“That’s exactly what I mean. If we didn’t have regulations, he would’ve been a law-abiding citizen. Are you slow or something?”
Thankful to have that cleared up, I headed down to South Carolina to speak with Joseph Cartwright III, talk radio host, blogger, and Tea Party Activist.
“Truly, no one could’ve foreseen such a terrifying end to this man’s life. It’s clear President Obama ordered the CIA to frame this man in an attempt to further a socialist agenda of stripping all Americans of their guns. I’m sure the PETA tree-huggers will be all over this, too. Now, we’re gonna have to deal with a new rash of regulations ordering us not to keep exotic predators in our basements. Well, if I can’t raise Grizzly bears on my farm, I’m not sure I want to live in his nation anymore.”
Next, I headed out to California to interview Dr. Jen Touchyfeely, Professor of Emotional Studies and faculty sponsor of her university’s PETA chapter. I like to keep things fair and balanced, you know.
“No one could’ve predicted such a horrendous end to this. It’s just awful how those evil police officers gunned down those innocent animals,” she said, sobbing uncontrollably. ”They could’ve let them live free out there in the wild.”
When I asked about the dangers of letting wild predators roam freely near residential areas, she became incensed.
“We all know the Midwest is just fly-over country. People don’t actually live there!”
Finally, to get the pulse of how this shocking mystery was affecting the common man, I hurried to Arkansas to chat with my old pal Cletus McOnetooth.
“I reckon it’s is the first I heard of this. Real live lions and such? Really? This ain’t another one them ‘Diny-sores Live’ that turns out to be nothing more than mechanical puppets, is it?”
I assured him the lions were all too real.
“Hot damn!” he shouted, grabbing for his coat and calling to his wife. ”Sugar, gas up the truck and grab my shotgun. We’re eating lion tonight!”
Looking for a good chuckle today? Why not take a look at some of my humorous blogs entries from the past? Warning: contents might be offensive to some or most or all.