This is an excellent writing advice from Chuck Palahniuk. This was first seen on tumblr. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link, it no longer existed.
But, I still think it’s worth sharing.
writingadvice: by Chuck Palahniuk
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not
use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands,
Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred
others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d
had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking
sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d
only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present
the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character
wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have
to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d
go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot,
leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the
smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her
butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In
this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against
those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And
what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic
was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her
cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or
there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the
plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your
story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions
and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking
and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example:
“During roll call,
in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before
he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just
as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing,
you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your
character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary
character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come
by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see
all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No
doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the
line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was
going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up
drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then
you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and
words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details
of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most
basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters,
you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the
telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger."
— Thanks Hiraku! (via wingedbeastie)
Becoming a “witch!” can improve relationships, get you a job, and more!—1973 (via Vintage-Ads LJ)
Suddenly Gets Job
|Me:||Hey Dad, I have a question|
|Dad:||Alright, lets see if it's within my reach|
|Me:||What do you think of cultural appropriation?|
|Dad:||I think you mean acculturation.|
|Me:||yeah, I do. But I was using the term the Social Justice Morons use.|
|Dad:||It's a necessary part of being human, you can't just keep the one culture all of your life!|
|Me:||So how offended would you be if a bunch of white people started speaking Spanish?|
|Dad:||Offended? I would be glad, at least they speak my language!|
|Me:||What if a white guy made tacos?|
|Dad:||what kind of taco? why would I be offended? Did I invent it and patent it?|
|Me:||Nope, just an ordinary taco made by a white guy.|
|Dad:||Why would I be offended? It would like a German guy getting offended because I grilled a hamburger|
|Me:||Well, because it's a Mexican food, it was discovered and is integral to Mexican culture. What if a white person doesn't respect the history of the taco.|
|Dad:||When the woman who first created a taco did that, did the Angels descend from heaven with a deed and a copyright form signed by God informing us that only Mexicans can make it?|
|Me:||Nope. It's just a taco.|
|Dad:||Precisely, it's a taco, eat it. I would actually be happy for that white guy, tacos are pretty good.|
|Me:||What if Tyler wanted to celebrate El Dia de Los Muertos? On his own?|
|Dad:||Tell him to pace himself the skulls are made of pure sugar.|
|Me:||What if he wanted to celebrate El Dia de la Independencia?|
|Dad:||Culture is not something handed to you by God to protect and nurse, it's just something that happens to you, and when you think you have it figured out, it changes. That's what cultures do. They change. You know what these people are trying to do, right?|
|Dad:||They want us all to hate each other and not speak to each other. They want us Mexicans in Mexico, Afro-Americans in Africa, Asians in Asia and none of us talking or being nice to each other. With no resources, no trade, no rights, and only the one language that only we're allowed to speak so that we can't communicate with anyone outside. And that's after they'd kill off all the white people. They're like the KKK, if the KKK didn't have balls.|
|Me:||I arrived at the same conclusion.|
|Dad:||Make yourself a coffee.|
|Dad:||Just be sure it's Mexican *laughs*|
Red hot nickel dropped in water…
I just yelled THAT’S SO FASCINATING
As well you should because THAT IS SERIOUSLY SO FASCINATING
THAT IS THE CUTEST NOISE I HAVE EVER HEARD
it’s like a tiny magical girl transformation scene
|2010 tumblr:||don't be racist or homophobic or sexist. Be kind and accepting|
|2014 tumblr:||I'm more oppressed than you. Don't listen to white rappers. Sushi is cultural appropriation. Kill straight people.|
1) Make higher education worthless by redefining “skill” as a specific corporate contribution. Tell young people they have no skills.
2) With “skill” irrelevant, require experience. Make internship sole path to experience. Make internships unpaid, locking out all but rich.
3) End on the job training for entry level jobs. Educated told skills are irrelevant. Uneducated told they have no way to obtain skills.
4) As wealthy progress on professional career path, middle and lower class youth take service jobs to pay off massive educational debt.
5) Make these part-time jobs not “count” on resume. Hire on prestige, not skill or education. Punish those who need to work to survive.
6) Punish young people who never found any kind of work the hardest. Make them untouchables — unhireable.
7) Tell wealthy people they are “privileged” to be working 40 hrs/week for free. Don’t tell them what kind of “privileged” it is.
8) Make status quo commentary written by unpaid interns or people hiring unpaid interns. They will tell you it’s your fault.
9) Young people, it is not your fault. Speak out. Fight back. Bankrupt the prestige economy."
this comes from the top rope.