It has oft been said, and we will say it again, oft; our book is not for everyone. Yes, it is for men and women of all genders, creeds, and sleep numbers. It is for the hot and the not, the tomato and the tom-ah-to, the hokey and the pokey. Whatever your favorite color, there is a home for you at How Not to Write a Novel.
Still, some have come to us and said “How Not to Write a Novel is not for me, for I have an MFA: I have achieved mastery of fine arts. I have wrestled fine arts to the ground, and they have cried like a little girl. I–I–am their master! What use do I, the literary novelist, have for How Not To Write A Novel?”
Nonetheless, we as people and writarians, are for everyone, even if our book is not. (It can be bought by anyone, though, here. A CRAZY bargain!!) It has oft been said that Howard and Sandy are the kind of people whom you either love or hate. How true that is, except for the love part. But those who hate us need our help far, far, more than those who love us, in a hypothetical situation where someone loved us. Those who hate us should seek our help without wasting a second on thought. We know what the nay-sayers will say. They will say nay. But you are a grownup now with a college degree and you can put your fingers in your ears and go “la la la!” until they stop.
Now that you have your MFA, you may think it’s too late for you to write a dreadful novel. Howard! you are thinking, Sandy! How will I ever be able to write the bad novel of my bad dreams??? Quell those fears! Experience teaches us that years of study and training are no obstacle to unreadable, inarticulate prose. For you we have written How Not To Write a Novel II: How Not To Write A Novel Goes to College. The title, not the book. For us to truly exhaust this topic would take months, hundreds of pages, and a substantial advance. But just off the top of our heads, we can offer some tips and techniques to overcome all your time and effort.
First, criticism of your novel usually means that the critic has not understood your authorial intention. Do not lose your cool! Explain to the critic, as patiently as you can, what he has missed. Smile understandingly through his objections, and re-state your premise as many times as necessary. Remember that you have read every word of your novel several times, and if there were anything wrong with it, you would have noticed.
Another strong possibility is that the critic is motivated by prejudice, conscious or unconscious. Do you belong to an ethnic or religious group? Are you of a gender? Then perhaps what you are facing is a case of bias. The best course is a flat accusation, delivered with a knowing narrowing of the eyes. If the critic has an emotional reaction, your accusation is proven!
You may be kicking yourself at the realization that you neglected these foolproof tactics in your many years of workshops past. However, during those years, you have probably had the opportunity of sitting at the feet of at least one famous writer. Now we can show you that those years were worth it! If the first two options above are not enough, try quoting a famous writer in support of your existing text. Is someone carping at the weakness of your plot? But Ann loved the subtlety of your plotting! Characters’ motivations obscure? “Perhaps I should dumb that down a little. Junot got it, but I suppose many readers will be left behind.” Soon you will find that all criticism dies away, and everyone is forced to mutely admit that your novel is simply exquisite just as it is.
With only a brief application of these skills, you will soon see an improvement in the assessments your prose receives in writing groups and workshops. When you do, please take the time to make out a check to How Not to Write a Novel II: How Not to Write a Novel Goes to College. The minimum donation is $50. Becoming a Friend is $100, and also automatically enters you in a drawing to receive our annual newsletter, or a drawing. For $1000, you can become an Angel, and for $3000 you can have your name!!! on our next book. For instance, instead of “How Not to Write Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield” our next book might become: “[YOUR NAME] Presents: How Not to Write Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield.”
But wait — perhaps, what with student loans and all, you can’t afford these prices? Well, la-di-dah, welcome back to the human race! Climb down off that high horse and buy the simple, hearty, common man’s version, with many, many pages of funny fun and instruction to get you out of the workshop and into print and then back into the workshop as a tenured professor and getting paid, so that you can pay off all those student loans. Buy How Not to Write a Novel immediately — for all the novelly goodness at a fraction of the price.