100 Ways to Write Badly Well
Sample of 100 Ways to Write Badly Well
The phrase ‘toilet book’ gets bandied around a lot as a derogatory term, but I can think of no human activity better complemented by reading than what happens on toilets. As you allow your body to do its vital work, a book can ensure that your mind is just as stimulated as your lower intestine after the rigours of a hard day. Or, to put it another way: out with one kind of crap, in with another.
In my time as a writer and creative writing tutor, I’ve noticed something counterintuitive – really bad writing is more fun than really good writing. If I’m given a choice between sitting down with À la recherche du temps perdu or a poem that rhymes ‘dinosaur’ with ‘lino floor,’ the T. rex in the kitchen is going to win every time. It’s in that spirit that I started writing deliberately awful pieces of short fiction. Mixed metaphors, unbelievable plot twists, piles of conflicting adjectives – anything to escape the tedium of perfectly honed prose. And it was fun – far more fun than agonising over commas for hours at a time. I got carried away. Soon, I found that I’d written hundreds of these things. I had them on a blog. Strangers were sending me their own deliberately bad writing. I was even doing readings of some of the best (by which I of course mean worst) examples. It became obvious that bad writing had an inexplicable momentum of its own and needed to be showcased. Hence this book.
This isn’t a how-to guide, although I suppose you could use it as one. Neither is it a serious literary experiment like Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style (although if there are any competition judges or broadsheet reviewers reading, yes it is). Rather, it’s a celebration of terrible writing, a chance to luxuriate in the worst excesses of purple prose. It’s designed to be dipped into and enjoyed in idle moments. A good example of this might be when you are taking care of important business on the toilet – which I think brings us back to where we started.
“His use of language, his ability to twist the narrative and turn the obscure into the profound is outstanding.” The Stage
Looking for a creative writing guide out there that will tell you how to write better? A book to tell you how to structure a perfect plot, create great characters, use language in a powerful and poetic way? This is not that book.
100 Ways to Write Badly Well is an adventure in drivel. It will teach you how to botch a plot, how to create characters that no one in their right mind would identify with and how to reduce the beauty of the English language to an incoherent mush.
Using one hundred practical examples, each awful in its own unique way, blogger and creative writing tutor Joel Stickley will lead you methodically up the creek and carefully remove your paddle before running off and leaving you stranded. The route is lined with mixed metaphors, terrible plot twists, piles of adjectives and characters staring at themselves in mirrors for no apparent reason.
Based on the popular blog and live comedy show How To Write Badly Well, this book is an invaluable guide to the art of awful writing that no would-be author should be without. Remember if a thing’s worth doing badly, it’s worth doing badly well.
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Joel Stickley is the author of the hit blog How To Write Badly Well, which has dispensed bad advice to over half a million visitors since its launch. With long-time collaborator Luke Wright, he wrote the book Who Writes This Crap? which The Guardian called “an inspired piece of parody,” and the animated film Crash Bang Wallow, which won the NFBC Short Film Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. He is Poet Laureate for the UK county of Lincolnshire and teaches creative writing at the Open University.Find out more