Undergrad Rag

How to Write the Worst Short Story Ever Written (A step-by-step guide to slowly killing the written word)

In Writer's Corner on June 7, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Begin with a viscerally powerful, but ultimately pointless opening statement. This is a very important first step. Like an angler entices fish with a worm, this opening line will entice your reader into wasting the next 20 minutes of their life.

Example: “Jack traced his name in blood across the hooker’s forehead. This would end up costing him an extra fifty bucks.”

The setting must be must be grandiose and complicated, yet ultimately irrelevant to the overall plot.

Example: “It was the year 2525, and jack made his way out of the dilapidated hotel on to the ruins of what used to be Park Avenue, New York. The robot revolution had caused untold devastation, leaving little but smoldering rubble in its wake. Fortunately, little else had changed in the world. Despite 500 years of human growth and development, technology had only grown incrementally, social mores remained unchanged, and the English language was exactly the same.”

Now is the time to fully flesh out your main character. It is important that they be an imperious, noble, flawless representation of pure manliness/femininity (all the author wishes he/she could be). For the purpose of this guide, the author will be male.

Example: “Jack Hammerheart didn’t need a hooker, having been blessed with an excessive inheritance, rippling physique, and a rare penile disorder known as ‘Rhino-Dick.’ Jack just wanted to help the impoverished in the only way he knew how, with pure sensual dynamite.”

You must have a vapid ancillary character with no substance, and no purpose outside of validating the main character’s actions.

Example: “Jack was on his way to see Genie.  She was one of multitude of ‘ladies of the night’ that Jack had pulled out of the depths of poverty with nothing more then sexual virility and immense wealth.”

Be sure to build up the ancillary character just enough not to offend whatever college undergraduate happens to be peer editing your paper at the time.

Example: “Genie was more then a set of voluptuous breasts, magnificent legs, and firmly toned buttocks to Jack. She was a woman of great poise and dignity. So much poise and dignity and fact, that she never felt the need to directly contribute to a conversation unless prompted by Jack.”

Grammar Note: be sure to overuse and incorrectly use semicolons as much as possible; nothing underscores your lack of technical proficiency with the English language better. Also, run-on sentences helpfully illustrate the hasty, masturbatory frenzy of writing you most likely started under drug-induced “inspiration.” Include a fragment as well. For good measure.

 

Now that you’re protagonist is a manly reflection of all you want to be, but never will, its time to work on your antagonist! This character should be irrationally evil. The more evil the character is, the less you have to explain why they are at odds with the protagonist.

Example: “Eugene Dingleberry was on his way to see Genie as well. He had just gotten off of work as the regional director of the Acme Baby Seal Poaching Corporation. As he crossed over 2nd  Avenue he knocked over a stroller and kicked a puppy in the face.”

Note on Vocabulary: Don’t forget to litter your story with inappropriately large, verbose wording. This will help distract the reader from your incompetent storytelling, and fool the average person into thinking you have a modicum of intelligence.

Here are some good examples:

  1. bode well = auger well
  2. wise = omniscient
  3. luxury = opulence
  4. you = douchebag

 

Now it’s time to decide your conflict. This is by far the most important part of any story, so feel free to half-ass it. Originality is the hallmark of good writing, so you’ll want to pick the most tired, formulaic conflict that you can.

Examples:

  1. Jack and Eugene both want Genie and must compete for her affection. This works best if Genie is ambivalent as a comatose patient despite being the object of desire. (Hell, it might help if she is actually in a coma)
  2. Jack and Genie must defend an impoverished community that Eugene intends to bulldoze to make way for a toxic waste dump. Involve an orphanage somehow, that helps.
  3. Anything involving the contemplation of life and death. Even though brilliant scholars have toiled over these massive questions since the dawn of man, you’re ten page short story will surely be able to enlighten anyone with the testicular fortitude to read it.
  4. For more examples look at: Any Nicholas Sparks book, any romantic comedy made within the last 15 years, or any film Jackie Chan has ever made (no offense to Mr. Chan, he is an ageless wonder).

 

Proofreading Note: Don’t ever bother proofreading your work. You should take it for granted that every word you’ve written is not only correct, but the best thing anyone has put on paper since Homer’s Odyssey. Even though odds are you’ve never had any literary exposure beyond those poems you showed your girlfriend/boyfriend in the hopes that you’re sensitive side would get you laid, you’re an artist damnit! Those who can’t grasp your artistic vision are mere Philistines.

 

You’ve managed to get your reader to plod along your poorly constructed narrative, now its time to write your ending. The best way to make your reader feel like they’ve wasted a small portion of their life is to solve the conflict with a wonderful little device called Deus ex machina (“god from the machine”). Just pick one way for your antagonist to conveniently die in a way that has no bearing on the rest of the plot!

Examples:

  1. Eugene is in a car crash and dies.
  2. Eugene is in a plane crash and dies.
  3. Eugene gets cancer and dies.
  4. Eugene gets cancer when a plane cashes into his car.

 

Congratulations, you’ve managed to drive yet another nail into the coffin of contemporary literature! Be sure to walk around with a false sense of accomplishment and condescension.

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