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If you think about it, there are really only two basic food groups.
RT @Harada_TEKKEN: Galaga: TEKKEN 20th Anniversary Edition for FREE !!!
RT @CodyBrown: “Can I be as great as Elon Musk?” An incredible answer from his ex-wife https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-be-as-great-as-Bill-Gates-Steve-Jobs-Elon-Musk-or-Sir-Richard-Branson/answer/Justine-Musk?share=1&srid=iAix
RT @ZackSnyder: #BatmanvSuperman #NotBlurry #NotPirated https://amp.twimg.com/v/32974fe5-dc4e-42bf-a586-c0cadf67796e
RT @FioraAeterna: Belmont: Mankind ill needs a savior such as you! Dracula: What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets! But enou- Be…
RT @dailyzen: “Let go, or be dragged.” —Zen Proverb
RT @shanselman: People say “if you truly loved your job, you’d be energized coming back from vacation.” Sure, but I like napping more. #rea…
RT @mikong: Did the first person who tried pancakes with bacon know how big it was gonna be?
RT @professorben: Be yourself. Unless you suck. Then, become awesome instead.
RT @spolsky: now you know why experienced developers are really conservative about technology choices https://jasonpunyon.com/blog/2015/02/12/providence-failure-is-always-an-option/
“Grill me a cheese”
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
This reminded me of the process of drawing narrative without a narrative voice or thought bubble.
RT @dailyzen: “The universe doesn’t allow perfection.” — Stephen Hawking
RT @notch: If people never did things that are scary or difficult, we’d never have gotten this far. We need to struggle and overcome to bec…
RT @reddit: Review of #TheInterview you need to read, from metsuken of /r/AsianAmerican https://np.reddit.com/r/asianamerican/comments/2q4ofq/sony_the_interview_whats_your_take/cn2x3j7/?utm_content=bufferfacd0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&context=3&utm_campaign=buffer
RT @dailyzen: “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.” —St. Augustine
RT @mworch: On this day in history (1988), NYPD detective John McClane thwarted a terrorist plot at the Nakatomi Tower in Los Angeles, leav…
RT @GreatestQuotes: “Sometimes it is not enough to do our best; we must do what is required.” - Winston Churchill
RT @GreatestQuotes: “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
RT @dailyzen: “Do anything, but let it produce joy.” — Walt Whitman
RT @GailSimone: She would put a doily on the Infinity Gauntlet.
AUNT MAY OF SHIELD.
RT @no_judge_ninja: You’re ok.
RT @dailyzen: “I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” ― Albert Camus
RT @dailyzen: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” -Yoda
RT @GringoBrulee: Wife: wtf is this pile of clothes doing on the floor?
Me: I struck down a Jedi.
W: god I hate you.
M: yes, use your h…
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RT @GreatestQuotes: “Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.” - Frank Tyger
RT @dailyzen: “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.” ― Homer, The Iliad
RT @Ansel: A robot just landed on a comet hurtling through space at 36,000 miles per hour. For reals. Live updates: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/science-environment-29985988?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_breaking&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=news_central
Roy Tang is a:
- programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart
- Frustrated writer and sketch artist
- Magic player on weekends
- Randomly amazed
- Software developer since 2003. If you’d like to work with me, take a look at my resume.
roytang.net is a personal site; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.