Rules of Writing in a Creative Fiction Class

  1. Only write characters who are your gender, your age, your ethnicity, and in college, possibly in Princeton. People will be confused if you try to write about someone else.
  2. Your character should think about sex, especially if it’s a girl. If she has sex, it must be with someone she is not fond of, who “crushes her under his weight.” No one ever enjoys sex.
  3. If your story is boring, have a character get killed or murder someone. It’ll elevate your story to serious literature.
  4. The names of the characters in your story must be outlandish or outrageously commonplace. Nothing in between. You can be called Myrrh or Bob, but lord help you if your name is, say, Cody.
  5. Use 4 letter words for effect. There is a world of emotional tension between “I don’t know,” and “I don’t fucking know.”
  6. Be jaded. It transforms clichés into knowing clichés, and that, as some dead old white dude said, makes all the difference.
  7. It can be difficult to write a long story. So don’t. Introduce the conflict on page 1, resolve it by page 4, pithy closing line on page 5 (“But then, she thought to herself, time eventually buries everything. Even death/murder/shitty sex.”)
  8. Profess hate of what you’ve written. It acts as a shield against people criticizing you. Don’t get too specific with the hate, though. That’s just ammunition.
  9. Remember: you are a genius. If, after all this, somehow a teacher of yours still doesn’t think you’re F. Scott Fitzgerald, he or she is just an old fogey.

– TK ’15

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