How to Write a Story

-The thin man

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[This began as a snippet of a conversation, mostly to get in the lines about the motel and the dwarf. I'm almost positive this was funny at some point. Then it started running long and sort of got obnoxious. Finally I just stayed with it, more out of sheer perversity, wondering where they were going and when it would mercifully end. I was going to color code the dialogue, but that would take forever. If it helps: there are two guys trying to write a story, and they alternate lines.]

Start with a man.

What kind of man?

I don't know. Any kind of man. What does it matter?

Well, if we're going to write a story about this guy we have to know what kind of man he was. You can't just go off all willy-nilly writing a story about a man when you don't know anything about him.

Okay, fine. He's a thin man.

You mean like in the novel?

No, he's just a thin man.

How tall is he?

What does that matter?

I'm trying to picture him.

He's a thin man. He's tall, maybe 6'2" or so…white, with glasses and…

Why does he have to be white?

He doesn't have to be, he just is.

I don't know if I want to write a story about a white man.

Don't start with me.

People of cullah deserve a novullah.

That's the worst pun I've ever heard.

Fine. He can be white, but he listens to rap.

You don't have to be white to listen to rap.


Let's move on. So this man, this tall, thin man with glasses, he…

What kind of man is he?

I thought we just answered that.

No, I mean like, is he the kind of guy who would take his neighbor's trash bin to the curb for him if the neighbor forgot?

I don't know. I'm more interested in what happens to…

Is he the kind of guy who likes to challenge other cars to drag races coming off of red lights, especially if they are also listening to rap?

Is that how you got that ticket?

Is he the kind of man who, even as we speak, could be in some sleazy motel licking dime store whiskey off a cheap whore's back?

Where on earth do you come up with this stuff? I know that didn't happen to you.

Why does it all have to happen to me? I am a creator. I create ideas.

You create something. So anyway, this man, this tall, thin, bespectacled man….

This white man….


Who loves rap….


And sleazy motels, dime-store whiskey and cheap whores

Why not?

And the Ganja

What is the Ganja?

I don't know. It's always in those rap songs. I think it's some sort of martial arts.

Let's not get silly, here.

What, he couldn't know kung fu?

This is a white guy, remember?

He already loves rap! Why do you have to box him in with your Moral Marjority sensibilities?!

Fine. He can do kung fu, or the Ganja, or Kung pao for all I care.

Well, now you're just being hurtful.

We wouldn't want that.

And sarcastic!

I think you're a bit naïve.

I just don't see why it's a big deal if he knows martial arts, that's all.

We're trying to create a character here. A believable character for a believable story, not some D&D scenario.

Who said anything about D&D….Although, we could make him an elf


But it would explain the rap! And the whore!


Now who's being naïve.

Look, he's just a guy. A regular guy.

What about half-elf?



Now, this guy…

What about a pirate?

Did you not just hear me?

Pirates exist.

No they don't. You've seen too many movies.

Well, they used to.

But they don't any more.

What about a ninja? They still exist.

He's not a ninja.

But that would explain the martial arts and the whiskey!

How would it explain the whiskey?

Well, ninjas are very lonely.


And ninjas like to self-medicate.

They like to self medicate?


Why do they do that?

Well, they generally don't have good health insurance, and their culture sort of frowns on anti-depressants.

You have this all figured out.

And their warrior code of silence doesn't allow them to talk about their problems with their ninja buddies.

I suppose you have a point.

What they really need is a ninja support system.

I don't think people who can fly need support.

Everybody needs hugs sometimes.

Did you hear that on Dr. Phil?

It was on in Care Bears movie. Hey, could we have some care bears in the story?

Are they real?


What's the rule?

Okay. No care bears.

And no ninjas.

Fine. Just a boring white guy. Probably drives a Volvo.

What's wrong with a Volvo. They are very safe.

Yeah, if you want to live a boring life.

Moving on….this guy, he comes home one day only to find that…

What's his name?

He doesn't have a name.

Why doesn't he have a name?

He doesn't need a name.

I think he should have a name.

We can give him one later.

We should give him one now.

It's not important.

Names ARE important. A character acts differently depending on his name.

No he doesn't.

Of course he does. Let's say you have Joe Whitebread, there. He comes home to find that terrorists have infiltrated the grade school down the street.

That's stupid. My idea is much better.

Fine. What's your idea?

He comes home to find a mysterious package has arrived in the mail. But the catch—oh, you're going to love this, is that it's addressed to his great great grandfather who has been dead some 60 years.

How is that better than terrorists?

It just is. The situation opens itself up to mystery and intrigue. What is he going to do? Does he open the package? Tell his relatives? You don't know.

See? That's what I mean about the name. I bet if he's Joe Whitebread he returns the package to the Post Office. But if his name were Levi Dwarf…

I told you, NO DWARVES!

I didn't say he was a dwarf, I said his last name is Dwarf. See, and that's not the best part…

There's a better part than having the name of Dwarf?

Yeah. His first name, Levi, see, that's short for Leviathan.

I see.

Do you? His name is actually Leviathan Dwarf!

I can see why he goes by Levi.

I think that's a sweet name. I wouldn't even mind him being white if his name was Levi Dwarf.

And you'd give up the ninja aspirations?

Yeah, because you just know he has telekinetic powers that enable him to…

Stop. Just stop. I don't think I can work with you.

Why not?

You're not a writer.

How am I not a writer?

You just blurt stuff out there.

Well, maybe if you'd give me the chance to finish….

You have no structure to your ideas, you haven't thought anything through and nothing you've said would work in a story.

I think all of it would work in a story. A lot more interesting than yours, anyway.

I disagree. Where you have fantasy, I have a workable premise and…

Big deal. Guy with a box. You're two steps for Senor Wences….Hey, that might actually be cool. Is there a talking puppet in the box?

That's the great part. He never actually opens the package.

What about all the deaths?

What deaths?

You know. Your audience, which just died of boredom reading your story!

Ha ha. Very funny.

Yet another advantage to my story. There would be humor.

Don't forget whores.

Yes, humor and whores. Every story should have them. My story would rock. I have an alcoholic ninja named Levi Dwarf, stopping grade school terrorists with the help of the Wu-Tang Clan. That's something. Whereas you have the opposite of that.

What's the opposite of alcoholic ninjas?

No, I meant the opposite of something. You have nothing.

I repeat: I cannot work with you.

Fine. I'll write my own story.

You do that.

I will.

You put your teeny Dwarf ninja in there.


Whatever. You put him in, with the booze and the broads and the bombs. See how far you get.

I'll do that.

Myself, I have an actual serious story to right, one that illuminates the human spirit.

Sounds like a page turner. Well, maybe we can read each others' when we're done.

Then I'd have to self-medicate.

Ha ha. I'd say that makes you a ninja….

But I'm white.

Yes you are. And now that I think about it, tall and thin…and you have glasses!

It's a coincidence.

Whatever, solipsistic man. I'm off to fight me some bad guys, and lick some whore's back!

No way will that story be better than mine.

Maybe if he wasn't white…..

1 comment:

Dragon said...

My hair hurts after reading that!