Bad Fiction: Breaking Rules


I found out that my story “A Wolf in Gentleman’s Clothing” has won me a runner up prize in Zizek Press’s Bad Fiction Competition. Some of you may remember back in October that I reblogged my entry, and I apologize to all those who read it. For those of you with morbid curiosity, you can find the story here.


Along with the other two entrants. Grandpa in a Box, the winning story was brilliantly awful and deserved in to win in my opinion.

Writing bad fiction is hard…but fun, at least the first draft was fun. I had a blast giving life to Sophia and her family because I felt that I could be as outrageous as I wanted to be. The story didn’t have to make sense, I could ignore all the rules of good writing I wanted to, and just let the idea flow. I didn’t have to worry about making the story better so the experience was freeing. However, then came time for revising. Yes, revising because it turned out that my story wasn’t crappy enough and that’s when things got hard. And painful.


Among writers there are bound to be some that think adverbs are horrible things that need to be eliminated from writing. And there are others who think that adverbs are useful creatures and writing without their help would be lackluster. But I think that many would agree that too many adverbs in writing is never a good idea.

So I abused the hell out adverb usage. I jammed them in every sentence, added them at the end of every “said” and in a couple of cases, I used them redundantly.


Some writing advice I have found to be helpful is that a writer shouldn’t rehash what has already happened in a previous chapter or paragraph. Readers are smart, they can follow a storyline without a constant reminder of what had happened. When I first started writing again after a very long break, my stories were full of repetition. I wanted to hammer home the point…by repeating it as often as I could.

I returned to that practice writing my bad story. I repeated many things several times, mostly in dialogue.

And finally.


I have a habit of being a little redundant when I write. I will write a sentence and turn around and write the same sentence but with different words. And when I wrote “A Wolf in Gentleman’s Clothing” I consciously used that bad habit to my advantage.


These were the rules I had broken when I wrote my entry for Bad Fiction and I thought it would be fun…okay interesting, maybe, to share which rules I  had decided to break. The writing of “A Wolf in Gentleman’s Clothing” was a great exercise in the difference between “bad” writing and “good” writing, and made me aware of how much I have grown as a writer.



10 responses »

  1. Congratulations on being announced a runner up, Melissa! I personally loved “A Wolf in Gentleman’s Clothing” and enjoyed reading it in all its horrible glory. I love this post outlining pitfalls writers should avoid (unless they’re trying to write terrible fiction, that is!)

  2. Writing terribly (for a person who has spent years trying to write goodly) is just as difficult as a properly trained singer attemtping to sing off key. Just by about a quarter tone. It’s fun, but it’s torture.
    Congratulations, Melissa! Well deserved!

  3. Congratulations! Great to hear of your prize! Nothing is funnier than reading bad fiction. So when you mentioned repetition, I immediately thought of a particular book I’d read long ago that did just that. After a while, I laughed in places where I wasn’t supposed to, but I learned a lesson and it’s stuck with me all this time. Repetition is uber verboten! 😉

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