The How Not to Write a Novel Quiz

Featured image: “Magical Girl Art” by Chrysolith.

I recently stumbled upon this, a quiz designed, supposedly, to see if you have any clue how to write a novel. It was designed by the writers of How Not to Write a Novel, which I have not had the pleasure of reading, but which purports to show by example how to avoid the mistakes of book-writing.

I got a perfect score, I guess. If I may say so, the score doesn’t surprise me: I have no pretensions of being the next Shakespeare, but I can at least turn out a workmanlike product when I’m halfway sober. However, I think a few of the questions are unfair.

For example, when asking what is a good sentence, it first gives the final line from The Great Gatsby as the “correct” answer, and then gives sentences with obvious typos, and then gives this:

Ever back, to the chthonic quagmire of yesterdays that ate yesterdays in monarchic succession, like crocodiles held vassal to a Pharaoh of loss.

That’s purple, but not horrific. I would accept it, depending on the context. It would be at home in a story by Lovecraft. After all, not everything is The Great Gatsby, nor should it be.

  • Terrycloth

    I wanted to pick ‘none of the above’ for that question. They were all awful sentences.

    • Two of them are grammatically poor. The other two are potentially respectable in context, and one of them is from a recognized literary classic.