How to Write a Clichéd Literary Fiction–A Quick Manual

  • Kill mommy. Kill Daddy. Dead parents are always a good source of entertainment. Throw in a sibling or two. It accentuates the feel.  

Once, sexual harassment used to be a safe bet. But now it has become too bourgeois, too commonplace. Blame it all on the #Metoo movement, the trope has lost its spark. 

  • The title should ideally feature at least two unrelated entities/concepts. A number in the title adds an oomph.

Eg: Forty Five and a Half inches of Butter and Bermuda Pants. 

  • Opening lines are important because this is where the readers give their highest devotion.So it would be an ideal place to go nostalgic or share personal traumas, all in the veil of heartfelt prose. It does not matter that it has no relevance to the story. What you want to do is grab the eyeballs, though you would not know what to do with them once you have those slimy buggers in your palms.
  • It is of utmost necessity that the protag is a common man, preferably a man who would not read your story and call you out in your emperor’s new clothes.
  • Write obscure sentences. They have two advantages. One, nobody will understand it. Two, despite the irrelevance of your story, assume a nut case finds it offensive, you can say you meant it in the way {insert name of a philosopher} meant. A dead philosopher’s behind is a good place to hide rather than take responsibility for your words. 
  • Never touch politically relevant, socially burning or culturally itching topics. Revise point one – Mommy issues, daddy issues and grief. Stick with it. You can tweak the flavour using alcoholism, depression so on and so forth. Presently, extramarital affairs of parents are in vogue.
  • Use metaphors liberally. Juxtapose. Even if it has been done to death. Call life a journey, laughter a medicine, sex an antidote, and kids a pain in the backside. Whatever. Try to connect a Moose’s antlers with Mariamma’s rasam. And after writing a perfectly unimpressive metaphor, sit back and imagine the readers giving you a standing ovation for five minutes. 
  • Never end the story conclusively. Be as abstract as the possibility of rain in Chennai. If any upstart says the ending is too vague, question their intelligence and their sisters’ chastity. 
  • Have excuses and defences ready for your story. Compare your work with the greats appropriately.

Prose as bland as yesterday’s idli? Call it sparse like Hemingway’s

Steeped in unnecessary description? Call it creating mise en scene like Hardy

A contrived ending? Say you were inspired by O Henry. 

Because like a philosopher’s behind, great writers’ derriere is big enough to hide your failings.

Ps : The intention of the manual is to offend as many writers as possible including yours truly. Please go ahead and enjoy. 

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Sarves<span class="bp-verified-badge"></span>

The author wishes to write like J M Coetzee, cook like Nigella Lawson and earn like Beyonce and at the end of the day, not look like something the cat dragged in. If wishes were horses...


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