In honor of the new year, here’s a nod to the past. Makes you wonder what 2032 Jill would have to say…
Hey, 1998 Jill.
I’ve spent the morning indexing old obituaries and thinking about you. (I know that sounds really weird, but you appreciate weird.) Anyway, I just wanted to talk to you about a few things, especially regarding your writing. I know you think you’ve got it all under control, but, looking back, I figure you could use a little advice. I don’t expect you to follow any of this, but it still ought to be said.
I know you’ve been writing for a few years now and things are looking pretty awesome, but, just between the two of us, they’re not. Seriously, try an outline. And a therapist. I know randomly killing off your characters and picking up a new MC seems pretty organic and cathartic, but you’re just coming off as a creepy kid. I know this is an important step in developing your writing style, but stop showing that junk to people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to try and explain myself at family gatherings.
Also, this is a phrase you should know: purple prose. I know you’ve never heard this phrase before, but what you don’t know can still be a frickin’ huge problem. Don’t get me wrong. Sunsets are beautiful. And your main character does have some pretty rocking hair. But you don’t have to spend literally three pages describing these things and their similarities. Just don’t. It’s depressing to go back and cut all that and think about how proud you are to write them.
In a similar vein, longer is not better. For example, that scene where that lady tells your main character about how her parents met? Yeah, she wouldn’t remember all that junk sixty years later. Especially since she wasn’t even there. This is what we call a background dump and is generally frowned upon. And while I agree with you that, yes, this shouldn’t be more than one paragraph, that paragraph really shouldn’t be four pages long. One paragraph. Four pages. Does not compute.
Don’t think I don’t like you. I like you more than you like you. I know what you’re going through. I get it. Writing is tough, and so is growing up. You’re still deciding what you want to write and what your style is and who you want to be. That’s fine. I don’t expect you to even read this letter, stubborn as you are. But you’ll get to this point eventually, with or without my advice. And the journey itself is important, even if you’ll look back and chuckle nervously and pray your husband never ever finds that one story with the duck. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. Burn it before you lose it again, or it’ll hang over your head forever.
As for the rest of life…
Your parents not paying for cable is not the end of the world. Just drop it.
Kyle Larson is not going to marry you. He’s a stupid kid and so are you. And you’re both twelve.
Stop eating candy off the floor in the grocery store when nobody’s looking. It’s gross and they definitely see you doing it. You’re twelve, not two.
Change your socks and underwear more. Serious.
Anyway, I could keep going, but I think that’s enough for now. You’re an alright kid. Keep smiling and keep typing, you’ll be fine.
Love You Forever, Ya Little Freak
PS- 2015! I know that looks, like, crazy futuristic to you! Keep dreaming about those hovercars- I know I do.