How Not To Write A Novel: The Quiz

1. A good plot:

a. gives an interesting character important problems which rise naturally from the character’s personal history, but have universal interest.

b. shows once and for all what phonies my parents are.

c. for instance, starts with an amnesiac priest who falls in love with Jack the Ripper, who is really Bill Gates, who has traveled back from the future to team up with a maverick NYPD cop.

d. would have only cheapened my instinctive lyrical voice.

2. The following might be a character description in my novel:

a. The bookie was a balding man with a permanent scowl whose checkered sports coat bunched up around his thickening middle.

b. Britta looked like a chubby, Asian, Helena Bonham Carter, only better.

c. His visage, his je ne sais quoi, his mastication–all, all, bespoke the native East Ohioan.

d. Jim had a resting pulse of 70, but today he didn’t look it.

3. My idea of a beautiful sentence is:

a. And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

b. I couldn’t believe he would actually SHOUT at me, not after the amazing, delicious, perfect, Passion we had shared! as lovers ever-destined for those honeyed weeks of dream Bliss!

c. Ever back, to the chthonic quagmire of yesterdays that ate yesterdays in monarchic succession, like crocodiles held vassal to a Pharaoh of loss.

d. Of course he was vigilant that her sleep was the due of the unsavory drug he had slavered in her drink prior the debarking of his private schooner boat.

4. A good technique for writing more realistic dialogue is to:

a. Read your dialogue aloud to yourself to hear if it sounds natural.

b. Start all exchanges with “Hello, how are you?” “I am fine. How are you?” because that’s how people really talk.

c. Reproduce every nuance of accent phonetically, so that your dialogue looks like this:

“Dang, ah’d lahk t’know whar’n hell y’all think yar.”

d. Add plenty of exclamation marks.

5. If you set your novel in Victorian England you should

a. Research the period thoroughly and read novels by Victorian authors.

b. Watch some Masterpiece Theater.

c. Have characters mention that they are in Victorian England.

d. Have your viewpoint character run into Queen Victoria at the jousting tournament.


No a‘s – Our book is your only hope. You should not go another day without it. You should borrow money if you have to.

1 – 2 a’s – You can do without our book, but only if you are never planning to let anyone read your novel.

3 – 4 a‘s – You should buy multiple copies of our book to give to all your friends, so they will recognize what a good novel you’ve written.

5 a‘s – With your deep understanding of the dynamics of novelling, you are better equipped than most to enjoy the rich humor and multi-layered insights of our book.