A Very Special Ask Mr. Writing Person, Part 2
Writing is tough business.
I had planned to treat you, dear Philistines, to the next draft of The Sandwich That Wasn't Magical Enough last week, but alas and woe is me: I suffered writer's block.
Yes! Me, of all people! It happens to the best of us!
My mental state started to affect me physically: cramps, headaches, backaches, bloating, water retention, and general cantankerousness, to name but a few symptoms. Just when I thought I might succumb to an early demise, suddenly the door swang open!!! Revealing my copy editor, clutching a bottle of Midol. Those little white gel-caps cleared me right up, and I was able to finish.
So today's lesson will be a virtual smörgåsbord of hooks, dialogue, grit and realism, simile and metaphor, and other miscellaneous techniques. This time, nobody will interrupt us. We'll begin with the title (which was previously too short) and the hook.
You're a Complete and Utter Imbecile If You Don't Read This Novel About The Sandwich That Wasn't Magical Enough
"You done killed him!" Yvonne expounded like a nonconformist redneck spectral monstrous aquatic mammal at the gloriously pulchritudinous specimen who was sprawling regally at its state-of-the-art IBM Electronic 75 typewriter, congealing an incomprehensible hoagy with two corrugated two-inch apertures disencumbered from one periphery and another one-inch aperture (which was more of a mastication) disencumbered from the other.
The mystery personage rubbernecked uncertainly--as Abraham Lincoln's chiseled visage ferrets out over the protectorate of South Dakota--at the unappetizing, unsymmetrical carcass, contemplating its beleaguered substantiality. The sun's morning rays caught its face just so (like the sunlight catches Abraham Lincoln's, incidentally), highlighting its spellbinding chiseled nose, sumptuous chiseled cheeks, coquettish chiseled chin, and terribly hunky profile.
Q. But what about the plot to kill him?
A. Okay, who let the Philistine in?
Q. Didn't this happen, like, in the middle of the story?
A. Yes. If you'll stop being all uppity about it, I'll get to the actual beginning. The problem with the last draft is that the story doesn't start in a scene with much conflict. I've employed a technique called flashforward to start the story in a more emotionally-charged spot.
A. Glad we got that settled. Who are you?
Q. Susan Greschell, from Smileyberg, Kansas.
A. Great. Let's do this thing.
As Fabio "Grit" Writing Person brushed his long, flowing, golden hair, he wondered where his sandwich had gotten to.
This is so stimping unrealistic that you'd have to be a complete and utter gracking imbecile to believe it happened, but reams of blimming, futuristic-looking, gritty station wagons full of hip screaming children flew past his spleefy 113th-story window. It had been like that for years, ever since the groited Government started incentivizing the groaning population to have even more grit-covered, piftling children than required. His father had said at the time that it was a zorbing bad idea, and sure enough, the next ritching day, the streets were loaded with soccer moms taking their snotty little environmental liabilities to Little League, while pinching themselves in the grits to make sure they were real. They were.
Ah, his father, he thought as he wiped some grit from his typewriter with a well-muscled fingertip. If only--
Suddenly, the door swang open!!! Revealing his extremely ugly, hideously fat, freakishly albino stepsister, Yvonne.
"Has you seen my gerbil?" expressed Cottage Cheese Surprise Thighs, actioning redneck-like.
"Nay, and forsooth," verilied Genius Boy as he gestureth. "Hast thou seen mine sandwich?"
"No," retorted The Great White Snark.
"Marry, thou atest it," the chiseled chunk of man-flesh actioneth, "did you not?"
Thunder rolled overhead as Yvonne slammed the door and stalked away, causing the downstairs neighbor's ceiling paint to crack and flake onto the floor. Fabio "Grit" Writing Person drilled a quick hole in the floor to make sure it was still seven feet of pure grit. It was.
That sandwich! he thought, thinking furiously about the sandwich. If Yvonne knew what power it contained within its meaty interior, she'd not rest until she found it, which would have been bad, because she really needed her beauty sleep. Fabio, on the other hand, was as beautiful and muscular as he was intelligent, even though he had stayed up through the last four nights being a search and rescue dog. And when he found the sandwich, he'd finally be able to...
Hellen was an extremely bitter woman, so bitter that a whole plantation full of sugar cane wouldn't have made her taste any better. Her latest ex-husband had tried just that, but even being a rich plantation owner hadn't made her any more agreeable. In short, she was the blackest coffee mixed with shredded pickles.
When it came right down to it, she thought as she, a giant albino coffee pickle slug, lounged on her bed, stroking her cat, it was all her step-son Fabio's fault. It had to be. Every bad event that happened to her during those events that occurred after she married his father happened after she married his father. Any fool could see it. The trouble was, she couldn't hate Fabio, because he was a spitting image of his father, who was Zeus.
In reality, all the bad things probably happened because she was the blackest coffee mixed with shredded pickles, but she didn't know that. She also didn't know that she was going to die in a few hours, because she was a drawer full of dull knives.
Fabio also had an uncanny resemblance to her own father, which filled her with shame and regret. As she fished around in her wooden drawers for another bottle of heroin, she wondered what he'd do if he saw her now. Even now, as a 54-year-old, villainous woman, she still sought her father's approval. In a terribly gut-wrenching and tragic turn of events, he had never given it, having been too busy with his patients to pay any attention to his family, especially not his youngest, ugliest, vilest, most albino daughter, leaving her to be raised by wolves.
She became frustrated and swore under her breath as she snatched at dust bunnies under her bed. A flock of spring lambs played against her fingers. She should have been able to find a bottle of something by now, what with her bedroom decked out like a doctor's office and all, on account of her unhealthy attachment to an unrealistic fantasy father, which is sad. Sad enough to make you cry.
For some unexplained reason, probably fate, or the fact that she was jonesing for another hit, she began to consider death. Then a ton of bricks hit her in the head. Fabio's death! If he were to die, just like her father...
Rapunzel continued to brush his long, flowing locks, unaware of the sinister cheese mold forming in his stepmother's execrable mind.
Fabio "Grit" Writing Person finally found his MacGuffin sandwich. It had been a common criminal under his typewriter the whole time! He took it out, examining its new creases and grease stains to make sure it was still edible. No mold had formed, but as it was a magical sandwich, he hadn't expected any to. He took a ginger nibble out of one end and savored the raw power flowing down his esophagus, through his cardiac sphincter and into his stomach, sloshing around in bile, squirting through his pyloric sphincter, making a quick stop in his duodenum, and finally resting in his colon, where it was kneaded and squeezed until the most nutritional part of the raw power was separated and transported to various parts of his body and the rest was left in the toilet.
Suddenly, the door swang open again!!!! Revealing a giant whale, gleaming in the dim lamp light, hiding something behind her back like the secretive redneck she was.
"Is that a sandwich?" verbosed Unibrow as, outside, a tornado spun like a top, throwing gritty station wagons full of environmental liabilities all over the place.
"Verily, but it is mine MacGuffin," colloquializeth Grit, who didst expect Yvonne the Hutt to actioneth. How wrong he was.
"Have you seen my gerbil yet?" the woman of hideous girth articulated, trying not to gesture in interest toward the sandwich. A furious updraft lifted several houses from their foundations.
"No," soundeth Goldilocks.
"What kind of meat is in that sandwich?" Blubbery interrogated, as flying cars crashed into inexplicable floating residences.
Fabio started. What kind of meat was it? He tried to remember putting it together... he had sliced the Egyptian sourdough roll in the light of a waxing gibbous moon, picked the broccoli crown with a clockwise cut at midnight, stolen ketchup packets every Thursday from the Burger King next to the oldest cathedral in the country... but the meat? It was--
"You done killed my gerbil!" the dumpy dame oralized. Lightning struck!
She advanced. What a dolt he had been! If only he had gone to the pet store instead of strangling his stepsister's gerbil in a fit of inexplicable jealousy, none of this would have happened! He had to think of something, fast. Then a ton of bricks hit him in the head.
Goldilocks gestureth downward. "Oh, my," he uttereth as the sun shone brightly in the window. "Behold!"
"What?" Yvonne enunciated, gesturing.
"Behold the page number," converseth Immaculate Conception Chap, while, outside, birds screecheth mating calls and bees pollenateth flow'ring plants hither and yon. "It's divisible by 17."
Yvonne turned even whiter, if that was possible. She stared at Fabio, horrified, as the evil maniac grinned, but he really wasn't an evil maniac--I lied about that--he was just trying to save his skin. But she didn't know that, so she became a rocket and slammed the door behind her. She hadn't even noticed that the page number wasn't divisible by 17.
Q. That is so romantic.
A. It's the weather.
Fabio chuckled to himself. Then he realized that he ought to follow Yvonne. She'd undoubtedly run to her mother like a giant, blubbery cheetah, and Fabio wanted to hear anything she told her. Fortunately, even though they lived in a man's arm with a zillion rooms, it was easy to follow her because her heavy footfalls had created inch-deep prints in the floor.
The sneaky spy stood next to a primer-colored 1964 Volkswagen Beetle on cinder blocks and stealthily put his ear up to the door, which was hardly necessary.
"Mama, he done kilt my gerbil and et it!" the pudgy princess voiced. "And now he's got hisself a MacGuffin!"
"Does he?" responded Grit's wicked shredded pickle. "I think I might a-quest myself after that. But you don't worry your little head, darlin'. He done gonna get his. See this here guillotine?" Lightning struck! Several small meteors pelted the windows.
The corpulent cow laughed like a maniac, which she was, on account of being raised by a ruthless black widow who had killed all of her ex-husbands, which had driven her to run off to Hollywood, become a cocktail waitress, and set fire to Sigourney Weaver's car, which was spleefing sad. Sad enough to--well, you know.
A loud scraping followed by a THUNK! told Fabio that Hellen had just demonstrated the guillotine to Yvonne. He calculated that it was time to disencumber a giant-sized aperture from the periphery of his hoagy, and brought it up to his mouth--but it was gone!
Suddenly, the door swang open!!! Revealing two very fat, very angry-looking albino redneck slugs. Fabio tried to run, but Yvonne fell on him, pinning to the floor under sheets of quivering blubber.
"Now, young Fabio!" declared the pudgy, heroin-hopped pastry processor, "I have you in my clutches! Your MacGuffin will be mine, and I'll rule this world with an iron fist! And you'll go to join my filthy father, whom I secretly desire to please even though he's dead and I should just get over it!" A giant comet cratered in the middle of the street below, killing hundreds!
Gallantry Personified groaned. This was it, he wasn't getting out of this one. He was a wad of chewing gum, consuming his shorts for sustenance.
A blinding spotlight shone on them from down the corridor. When their eyes adjusted, they saw the strangest assortment of human-shaped beings they had ever beheld.
Two were short: one squat and hairy, the other clean-shaven and boyish, monkey-like, with a funny gait. The four normally-heighted ones were a rugged-looking man in a stimping park service uniform, a long-eared waif with girlie-looking blond hair, a dandied-up royalty figure, and an effeminate man in a white robe with a very long beard. The royalty figure was a porcupine with eleven flaming arrows sticking out of his chest, but he was still standing--probably because his stamina was above 17.
"Save me!" pleaded the lover of words to the figure with the bearded robe.
The boyish-looking, growth-challenged one spoke. "I've taken your MacGuffin," the geriatric disco chimp pronounced, holding Fabio's sandwich aloft, "and I'm going to throw it into the fires of THE MOUNTAIN!"
The party was a bolt of lightning.
"Well, I'm a-glad that's over," colloquialized the fleshy female. "I really din't wanna do much walking in this here penthouse's labyrinthine corridors. Let's behead this creep and get on with our lives." The comet's payload, a sample of greenish slime, oozed onto a bystander and melted his flesh clean off his bones! It followed up with thousands more unwitting victims, until it became inexplicably inert.
Q. That's amazing.
A. Isn't it? Though it took me three weeks on the whole to produce, I have a riveting 2000-word story, fit for publication in any number of top-tier magazines. Of course, this being me, I'd simply produce twenty more and sell them as an anthology.
Q. If you hadn't published it online, anyway.
A. I'm really taking a hit for you on that, you know.