My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…
THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.
Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.
There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.
Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.
Once Hawk realized what a fool he was–cooking up Dropsy’s brothers and sisters and expecting her to eat them–he went to the cabin and got her something more palatable. He made her a roast beef sandwich and a hearty stew of potatoes and carrots, another throwback to his manly childhood on the bull circuit. She seemed much happier with this and they cozied up on the sand, eating and chatting, her with her stew and him with his grilled fish.
As they ate, a group of young people strolled by. They appeared to be of Italian descent, with putrid orange spray tans, gigantic gelled hair, and swathed in Gucci and Prada. They were chattering loudly when they noticed the two of them on the sand and stopped.
“Oh my God, like.” One of the girls pulled her designer sunglasses down her nose—though it was dark out now. “There’s this creepy old woman who’s been following us around. Like, stay safe you guys.”
“Yah.” One of the men flexed his oiled biceps and tugged his visor down over his broad brow. “Like, I might have to beat her up. I totally will. By the way, is that a mermaid, or am I totally drunk? I know I’m drunk, but like, is that a mermaid?”
Hawk smiled. “It is, indeed.” He loved the people of New Jersey.
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?
Local color, also called regionalism, is important in a lot of books. Readers even seek out certain authors and types of books based on their love of a certain region. Where the story takes place can be as important as the characters and the plot. Sometimes it’s not just a backdrop but a vital piece of the story itself—you couldn’t just pick the story up and put it somewhere else, or it wouldn’t be the same.
That being said, if you write about a specific region, city, town, or any other place, if you don’t actually live there you need to do your research and get the local color correct. Don’t rely on stereotypes and things you see on TV. If it’s someplace you’ve actually visited, even better. But if you haven’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t write about it, and do so faithfully. The internet is a wonderful place for information, and also for reaching out to people who live in that area. Until I started writing this lampoon I actually had no idea New Jersey has a ton of beautiful state parks and lakes…I had only ever seen Jersey Shore nonsense and heard how trashy it was.