Pinching pennies and avoiding syphilis: this is the mythology behind many of history’s great hard-living artists. The protagonist of Steve Hely’s “How I Became a Famous Novelist” is named Pete Tarslaw, and although he’s not toiling in a tubercular garret, he’s not doing so hot, either.

His current living situation is what the CDC might deem “hazardous”, and he’s broken-hearted after learning of an ex-girlfriend’s engagement. Luckily, he hits upon a solution to his troubles: devastate his ex by publishing a best-selling novel. Remarkably, Pete’s plan sort of works.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, churn out a novel for cash, revenge, and fleeting success—using Pete Tarslaw’s novel-writing rules:

1. Abandon truth.

2. Include descriptions of delicious meals.

3. Include clubs, secrets, missions, characters whose lives are changed suddenly, and women who’ve given up on love but turn out to be beautiful.

4. Include scenes that take place on highways and make driving seem poetic and magical.

5. End on a sad note.

6. Do not waste energy attempting to make a quality book.  


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