U is for Up up down down left right left right B A

You cheating bitch! How could you?! After everything we talked about, all the promises that were made. That medipack was for me! *throws controller at television*

Sometimes it’s ok to cheat. Sometimes you should be strung up by the feet and beaten with rabid otters, but sometimes it’s ok.

Bad cheating: Boinking your partner’s gran

Good cheating: Reading two books at the same time

Bad cheating: Hiding two aces up your sleeve at an underground poker game

Good cheating: Working on two novels at the same time

Bad cheating: Sneaking a peak at the answers to a test

Good cheating: Writing the end first and figuring out how to get there afterwards

Excellent cheating: Eating pizza when you’re supposed to be on a diet

Ok, some of the ‘good’ cheating above isn’t exactly cheating (which is what makes it good) but unfortunately some writers think it’s a Very Bad Thing to ‘cheat’ on a book. Or to ‘cheat’ at writing.

Reading multiple books at the same time (not exactly the same time…that would be weird – impressive but weird) is NOT cheating. If you can enjoy several novels simultaneously without getting the characters mixed up or interweaving the plot lines, then good on you! Crack on!

If you work on several novels at the same time and don’t end up with a giant mushy pile of individual yet still a single organism type thingamajig à la ‘The Thing’ – then you are a better writer than I.

The only way you can cheat at writing is plagiarism. Either stealing someone else’s work, or rehashing your own over and over rather than coming up with new ideas. Now THAT is a Very Bad Thing.

Other than that, anything goes.

You can start in the middle, wait until you’ve written the whole thing before deciding on the gender of the MC, work backwards, write the damn thing in Latin then translate it back to your native tongue for publishing…there is no right way. Which means there’s no such thing as cheating (blah, blah, plagiarism).

Some of you are probably screwing up your faces in confusion/disgust/arousal right now. How can you possibly write the novel properly if you don’t know whether or not your protagonist has dangly bits?! Just like the dozy cops from the beginning of ‘The Matrix’ when Trinity/the Agents leap over a huge gap between buildings, you gasp:

“That’s impossible.”

Exactly. It’s impossible because you think it’s impossible. Because you’ve never tried it, because you never will, because it would be breaking the rules to such an extent that reality would come crumbling down if you even considered the possibility.

Because it’s cheating.

And in real life there are no cheat codes, no secret doors, or hidden buttons. No levers you have to activate in the right combination to find a hidden cache of weapons…although how cool would that be?

“Honest, officer. I was just prodding random bricks cos I was bored – I have no idea where this anti-tank gun came from!”

But you don’t need cheat codes when it comes to writing – just imagination. There are no limits (save time, but you’ve got plenty of that!), no boundaries or borders. You can do what you want, when you want, and however you want.

The only way that works is the way that works for you.

Failing that, jump up and down three times, turn around and touch both feet – it activates Stephen King mode for forty minutes. Use it wisely – you only get one per level.

Super Stevenio

This doesn’t hurt in the slightest…*bleeds*


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  1. A friend’s novel has a protagonist who is not gender specific. She did it deliberately. And for some kinds of writing I do write the end first. Have to for the twisty ones I have nothing witty to say – it’s your fault for that – you didn’t give me an opportunity

    1. I am not a witty man. Or a smart man. Or a man…giraffes rule!!

  2. you lie

    1. I didn’t lie! I can’t help it if you used the cheat when King wasn’t writing.

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