What to NEVER say to a writer. EVER.

tumblr_inline_n9g140tV701s1ll4kOr… how to earn a first class “E Ticket” into one of my stories.

I’ve seen lots of articles like this.  “10 Things To Never Say to a Writer“.  “Eight Things You Should Never Say to a Writer”  “19 Things You Should Never Say to a Budding Writer” (I like how that one tossed in “budding”).  People love lists.  And most of these cover the generic situations writers of all genres find mildly annoying.

Included in nearly every list are questions like “Will you write my paper for me?”  and “Can I be in your story?”  Personally, I’ve never met anyone bold enough to ask me to write something for them, but I’m often asked (sometimes joking, sometimes serious) if whoever I’ve just met can be a character in my book.  My friends know better.  If you end up in one of my stories, typically it’s not because I like you.  My stories are angst-fests so ending up in one generally means you’re either in for a lot of suffering (if I like you) or you’re a red shirt.

The last person I specifically wrote in was a stick-up-his-ass hotel manager in New Orleans.  I had asked if I could look around for a bit, because I’d love to use the place as a setting.  He – swear to God – had me escorted out of the building by security.  That earned him multiple appearances in several of my stories.  Usually  he ends up something like this:

Some days, it’s good to be a writer.

I found this note waiting for me on my NaNoWriMo account, from an admirer who will remain anonymous.

I thought that I signed up for the nano trial version of Scrivener and that it would last until december, however I went to use it today and was informed that the trial version was finished and would have to pay the full amount to continue.

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3 thoughts on “What to NEVER say to a writer. EVER.

  1. The only sensible response to “Will you write my paper for me?” is “Of course! I’ll need 600 dollars in cash up front, an open deadline, and my choice of topics and styles. Oh, and I’ll be dedicating it to Satan, Lord of Darkness, on the title page as usual. When would you like to schedule an appointment?”

    If anyone asks, “Can I be in your story?” it’s expeditious to tell them, “Only if I can use your full name and address. Have you ever signed a waiver before?”

    Lastly, never ever tell anyone you’re doing research for anything. Instead, lie through your talented little teeth and tell the hotel manager you heard good reviews about the place but you want to clarify a few things before you see about booking your sister’s wedding guests. Walk in with a good clipboard with a few sheets of boxed questions printed out in an elegant font and bring the nicest pen you have. Attach about a quarter inch of brochures underneath the top pages so it appears you have already been to other hotels.

    Dress to the nines, act bored with everything, and dodge all questions by blatantly ignoring the one doing the asking and absently remarking on things in the room, usually in the negative. (The very rich are used to being waited upon and they don’t give a shit if anyone thinks they’re rude.) Take lots of photos on your phone and mumble things like “I don’t think the ceiling is going to be high enough for the columns” and “Marie is NOT going to like these buffet tables” and “I don’t know if this blue is going to work with the linens.”

    Before they are done showing you the place, check your phone and tell them you must leave now but you’ll let them know. Do NOT thank them, just turn and go after asking their name again, do it sort of absentmindedly. This may all sound hard to pull off but it works like a frickin’ charm, trust me. Just pretend to be one of the characters in your novel and really stick it.

    • ROFL! Where were you when I needed you?? The mistake I made in New Orleans (which I’ve never repeated) was to assume that a business would take it as a compliment that someone wanted to include them in a story. If I’m willing to put that much effort into it, it had to be a good thing, right? Of course older, wiser, cynical me now knows about such things as lawyers and liability. Ah, to be young and naive again!

      That incident happened before the era of oversharing. Now all someone really needs to do is log on to their site. Most of the big hotels have virtual walkthroughs. Google Earth takes care of the exterior (for the most part).

      But, you know? You’re right. Those buffet tables simply will not work… Marie is so picky about such things! 😉

      • Hotels and other businesses will take it as a compliment if you are a successful author they can brag about and thus bring in MONEY for them. They will walk any prospective client around who appears wealthy because they anticipate making MONEY. Lawyers and liabilities are only in place because it might cost them MONEY. They are a business under a lot of pressure from their owners and investors to make MONEY. Do you sense a subtle theme running delicately through all this?

        I’d still go to places in person that you want to write about well. Your senses will pick up all the fine stuff that readers will remember from your scene building later. A computer screen can’t tell you that the afternoon sun makes a long grid pattern on the lobby carpeting reminiscent of a 1920s jail cell or that the elevators smell of expensive cigars and cheap cologne.

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