1) Step one in the great enterprise of a new and preferable you in the house of fiction is: Mean less. That is, don't mean so much. Make up a story, screw around with it, paste junk on it, needle the characters, make them say queer stuff, go bad places, insert new people at inopportune moments, do some drive-bys. Make it up, please. 2) Don't let it make too much sense. 3) Do use stuff that you care about when you're making it up. If you're mad at your mother, husband, boyfriend, wife, lover, neighbor, dog, take it out on a mother, husband, etc. and put it in the mouth of one of your characters. If you're full of love for the sea, say something nice about the bath. 4) Leaven the piece with some merchandise (figurative) you don't particularly care about but that seems to you odd, intriguing, curious, baffling, quirky. Attach this material to your characters. 5) Do not use the above to rationalize disconnected, ersatz, or unrelated oddball debris. "I'd like to talk to you but there's a giant in my room" isn't the answer to any narrative question. 6) Long plot explanations aren't going to get it. Like, when something neat (horrible?) happened to one of the characters a real long time ago, and you really really want to tell us about it, you know? Don't. 7) It doesn't particularly matter which characters these things you care about (see #3) get attached to (these are things like pieces of dialogue, bits of description, some gesture, a look somebody gives somebody, a setting, tabletops). In fact, you're probably better off if the stuff attaches itself in unexpected ways to wrong characters (so you don't go meaning too much, see #1). 8) Remember: Many things have happened which, to the untrained eye, appear interesting. 9) Grace Slick. 10) At every turn, ask yourself if you're being gullible, dopey, pretentious, cloying, adolescent, Neanderthal, routine, dull, smarty-pants, clever, arty, etc. You don't want to be being these things.


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