At the recent Bram Stoker Awards ceremony in New York, the banquet’s emcee, author Jeff Strand, plotted the following little skit which we delivered to everyone’s surprise, shortly before he introduced the presenters of the award for Outstanding Achievement in Long Fiction. I was honored to be a part of the joke in this parody of the goreletter’s Instigation column, which features “twisted prompts for sicko writers.” Here’s the script from our skit. Although I wrote the prompts below, the idea was all Jeff’s and he did a fantastic job all night long. Be sure to drop by his website and pick up a copy of his latest book, Fangboy (which I’m currently reading and loving). To read more about the 2011 Stoker Weekend see my con report.
Jeff Strand: Why is the word “novella” longer than the word “novel?” And why is the word “novelette” longer than the word “novella?” [Uncomfortable pause.] I’m sorry, that was awful. Is there a writing instructor in the room?
Mike Arnzen: Right here! [Mike runs up to stage.] You look like a man who needs help writing an introduction to the Long Fiction category.
Mike: Well, I’m a tenured Professor of English at Seton Hill University, where I teach in an innovative Master’s degree program in Writing Popular Fiction. What you need is a prompt to spark your creativity. I’ll give you the prompt, and your imagination will do the rest. Ready?
Mike: “Close your eyes. Imagine the longest sword in the universe. Now — taking the point of view of the sword — describe the worst sword swallowing accident imaginable! Anything?”
[Jeff stares at Mike.]
Jeff: Give me another one.
Mike: “Pretend you had a set of characters named ‘Mr. Novel’ and ‘Mrs. Novella’ who had a monstrous offspring named ‘Little Novellette.’ What method would the sweet little girl choose to murder the entire family?”
[Jeff stares at Mike again.]
Jeff: What else?
Mike: “If you were to murder a man with the world’s longest book…what do you think your victim’s brains would taste like?”
Jeff: You know what, I think I’ve got it.
Mike: “Godspeed.” [Mike leaves.]
Jeff: Why is the word “novella” longer than the word “novel?”