Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Writing vs. Crap

Remember the scene in Swingers when Jon Favreau's character, Mikey, meets the girls in Vegas? One of them works at the MGM Grand in a show, and says, "I'm a Dorothy." Mikey responds quickly with "Well, we're not in Kansas anymore!" It's perhaps the lamest joke ever because it's so unbelievable obvious it's been overdone to the point that if it were a biscuit you could use it as a hockey puck. Mikey does the same thing when he meets Lorraine, and immediately after she introduces herself, he replies, "Like the quiche." Same problem; over-used joke that is no longer funny.

Think there's a reason "why did the chicken cross the road" isn't used anymore? You guessed it.
Which brings me to my topic of the day: books for new Dads. To put it bluntly, for the most part they suck donkey turds. They are written mostly by "normal guy" dads which is supposed to make them more accessible to other normal guy dads. But along the path from idea to publication to entry into your local bookstore, no one stopped to ask if these guys could actually write!

I've seen books written like "outdoorsy" instruction manuals, books that utilize sports terminology, and books that try to throw in jokes around clinically boring info dumps. All of these books are written by "Average Joes." The publishers probably thought that a regular dude would have more credibility with their targeted demographic, but as any writing teacher will tell you, most people aren't good writers. It takes more than just throwing around "guy" words from sports, tools, or camping. Just because you as a writer call passing off a dirty diaper to your wife "illegal procedure" or a "flagrant foul" doesn't mean guys are going to enjoy reading your book, nor does it mean it's well-written.

Oh, and that brings up another pet peeve of mine when it comes to these books. I know funny. Doesn't mean I always write funny, but I do know funny. And throwing in all-new cute names for a dirty diaper every other page like "Mr. Stinky" and "Poo-pourri" doesn't make you funny. It makes you a dork. A large dork. Is poop funny? Abso-freaking-lutely it is! But inserting "poop monster" into a normal sentense doesn't make it funny. It makes it sad. Poop is funny in situations the same as everything else. Case in point: a street sign isn't funny no matter how many phallic names you give in a regular sentence like "The street schlong said we were on Main Street." However, if it's inserted into a situation like the outstanding TruCredit "Investigative Reporter Chuck Storm" commercial; it becomes hysterically funny.

The writing counts, people. The quality counts. If you're going to write a how-to book, that's great. But don't disguise it as a comedy book. And something that I didn't touch on, but just want to mention briefly in closing... men are not as stupid as you make us out to be. Just because a book is marketed to men doesn't mean the writing should be substandard. I'm just saying.

No comments:

Post a Comment