Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I spent an hour or nine perusing the fiction shelves at Barnes and Noble this week. I might not be a practicing librarian anymore, but I still care about books. Only halfway through the fiction section I realized that there were only about 15 different plots in use.  Also, I hate almost all of them.
 The point of writing fiction is that YOU GET TO MAKE STUFF UP!!
Or. You can just write about the Tudors and vampires and knitting groups.  But, please, if you're going to do that, stop. Stop right now.  Step away from the vampires.  Open your mind to something besides the zombie chasing you, and create something that does not involve any of the following:

1. Zombies.

2. Vampires.

3. Vampires and zombies in the same book, especially if producing hybrid Zompire/Vambie offspring

4.  Zombies and vampires in the same series, such as
Book One: Suck it, Vampire
Book Two: Eat it, Zombie!
Book Three: Suck, eat, have sex with it, and make it undead, Vambie Love Child!!

4. Zombie apocalypses where the remaining humans must fight off the brain eating hordes and save the world. Or something. I don't care. If I see one more book about zombies, I'm going to eat my own damn brain in self defense.

5. Anne. Fucking. Boleyn.
Yes. She seduced a king. He chopped her head off. How many books about this must we suffer?   Why must we make them all into bestsellers? Straight people, is this really the only romance in western European history that catches your eye/groin?
Here's the plot:
Henry VIII marries brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon, who's crazy religious and does not smell nice.
Young Anne twitches around court, catching H's eye, which is wildly roaming anyway looking for someone without heavy gold crosses worn as chastity belts.
A says Put a Ring on It, Big Boy! You ain't getting up in this unless I'm queen!
H tries to shake old woman loose.
Waa, waa, mean old Pope, excommunicatey blah blah blah,
Me King! Me Also Pope!
Detaches old woman, finally.
Yay Anne! So:
Puts ring on it.
Soon, takes head OFF it.
And there you have it, or rather, if you're Anne, you don't.

6. Any sort of book that is derivative of Jane Austen, i.e.
 What Mr Darcy Did Next
What Is In Mr Darcy's Pants? 
What I Did With What Was In Mr Darcy's Pants
or even
Mr Darcy's Pants: A Country Ramble With Animal Husbandry Tips!
Jane Austen is dead. She will write no more.
You will not improve on her.  You will not even come close to her.  Unless you are Barbara Pym, who is also dead, and who, thankfully, did not write about Mr Darcy or his pants, which, in my mind puts her AHEAD of Miss Austen-- but I digress.
 Reread Austen all you like, and, if you must, whack off to Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility--but hopefully, not to Mansfield Park because that would be weird.  Better you do it at home, without pants, than in print, with pants, and unleash it on an innocent and unsuspecting public.

7. Anything that has zombies, vampires, AND Jane Austen.
(What Zompire and Vampie Sucked Out of Mr Darcy's Pants)

8. 50 Shades of anything. Ever. Shall not waste one extraneous word here.

9. Anything that has anything at all, ever, to do with Dr. Who. Please, Jesus. Make it stop. Television is enough--nay. It is already TOO MUCH.  MAY GOD AND JESUS AND THE GREAT PUMPKIN STRIKE ME DEAD BEFORE I EVER, EVER HEAR ONE MORE DAMN WORD ABOUT DR WHO. EVER.

10. Any subject that requires you to ever even consider using the phrase "young buck" in reference to any creature that does not have four legs and antlers.  Trust me here.

11. Teenage witches
(For some reason, witches are more popular in teen lit than adult lit, which I am sure is all because of that movie The Craft, which after all I totally get because Fairuza Balk was way hot in that movie)

12. Teenage vampires

 13. Teenage zombies

14. Anything centered around a knitting group.

15. Anything centered around a knitting group with witches, zombies, or vampires in it. Or teenagers. Or teenage witches, zom--ok, you get the idea.

16. If your name is James Patterson, any topic that occurs to you. Ever. Full stop.

17. Anything centered around an "inn", which I have always referred to as a hotel, but then again I do not write romance novels. Or anything revolving around a restaurant. Or a yarn store. A bakery. Florist shop(pe).  Or anywhere else that a bunch of random middle aged women come together, with at least one studly man, and then, someone gets cancer, and everyone rallies around except for that one woman who is all shirty and aloof who, of course, has already had cancer seven times, WHICH NO ONE KNOWS! SHE HAS A SECRET!!  and has lost everyone she ever knew to cancer and so she knows the pain all too well!! and oh, actually, she IS dead, that's why she seems so nasty until that scene where all is revealed and she gives her spleen and most of her brain to the other cancer person In The Most Noble Gesture Of All and everyone is all, "Whoa, she isn't such a bitch", but of course, eventually the other cancer patient dies, and everyone learns a lot of stuff about how Life Is Short, so the plucky single gal gets it on with the one studly man and then there's redemption and pie.

18. Related to Number 17 is the always popular Child Gets Sick, teaches lots of lessons to all the people around him/her, even that old curmudgeon who hates children and owns a dusty bookshop on the corner which happens to be worth eleventy zillion dollars so he sells it to get the money for the Dying Child's treatment but tells no one for he is the character meant to show us How To Do Things For The Right Reason; also naturally the Dying Child's estranged parents come back together in sorrow and learn things in the Face of Death like, So what if you had sex with my poker buddies at the lake cabin? And, honey, it's no biggie that your are the father of my sister's child, because Love Is Eternal And It Is All We Have Because Soon We Won't Even Have Our Kid etc etc etc.
 Dying Child dies, slowly and meaningfully, preferably with at least a chapter devoted to child's Last Words which are so wise and wonderful that someone should probably be transcribing them as a Guide To Life for everyone else; Oh, and it's fucking Christmas, so that there can be a doll or a teddy bear or a toy stripper pole to remind everyone of The Christmas We Would Never Forget Anyway Because It Was So Depressing That We All Converted To Judaism Just So We Would Never Have To Celebrate It Again.

19. Then, there's the always bestselling: Teenagers fall madly in love, are separated, reunite briefly many, many years later, preferably when one is on verge of death, and they both realize that those two weeks in the back of a '57 Chevy were the best ever, even after having long, fantastically successful lives packed with other loves, family, and probably a few million dollars in the ensuing six decades.  Set in the summer so as to have plenty of time for sneaking off to have sex, and probably takes place in small Southern town so we can Learn Lessons About Tolerance when one of the teens has a black, brown, or maybe even just deeply tanned friend who is of course killed off by the fourth or fifth chapter, and whose death is all tragic and horrible except apparently NOT tragic enough to prevent the teen lovers from humping the springs out of the back of that Chevy.  Of course, in the touching, heart rending denouement, one of our tragic duo dies, so other one can be left alone, hopefully crying until they, too, expire, not one damn second too soon.

20. Death and teens is ALWAYS a winner.  Like, where the mother dies and the teenage daughter experiences the five stages of grief while being pretty and popular and also loses her virginity, which is all her dead mom's fault and now she not only doesn't have a mom, she doesn't have a hymen, but that's ok, because she gets into Yale.

21. Anything about a group of college friends growing apart, or getting closer, or planning one member's funeral. You will not improve on Mary McCarthy, even if you throw in some dying children and knitting and a zombie.

There are more.  But after writing these down, I'm so sick of the printed word I can't even type.