There’s a saying: “Life sucks, and then you die.” But for Marvin, this truth was made more bitter by how it monopolized 10% of his lifespan. How unfair! Getting stuck in a short story sucks, sure, but it happened to lots of people, and they managed to accomplish something anyway in their brief lives. But Marvin had the misfortune to land in a drabble, and his writer had already wasted most of his precious 100 words on too many adjectives and adverbs.
“Please, lady!” Marvin begged as his death approached. “Let me do something before I die! Write verbs! Verbs!”
For those of you who write, do you pity your characters, knowing they got the short end of the stick by landing in your story? As in, you know their lives suck, and it’s your fault as the author, and you wish you could promise them a nice retirement in Tahiti when the story’s over? I had a conversation like this with a writer friend of mine I’m novel-swapping with. The characters in her novel have it bad. She writes about dysfunctional family dynamics and the way that problems like abuse are passed down and perpetuated through the generations. It makes for a great story, but I like to tease my friend that I’m going to stage a rescue: import her characters into my current novel (a fantasy/comedy), which will feel like an oasis for those poor souls.
Still, I’m serious when I say, “Life’s short, so write verbs.” A few years ago, I found myself sitting in my cubicle wondering what I was doing with my life. I’d never intended to wind up there. I had dreams, but those dreams seemed to be getting farther off, not closer. I’d gotten caught in that painful cycle that’s all too familiar: working, sleeping, and working some more.
I don’t object to the “working” part. Most of us have to work, and few people are lucky enough to have a choice in what they do for a living. I object to the fact that there’s only two verbs on that list: “work” and “sleep”. If I want to live life, I’m responsible for picking the verbs. So I took up running. I wrote my first novel. I began volunteering. I stopped wasting my time waiting for things to happen to me.
If we only have 100 words in our story, let’s make them count.
What are your goals, creative or otherwise? What verbs do you want in your story?