Saturday, February 1, 2014

I know I’m not the only one who does this, but when I do it I feel as guilty as if I were the only one who does. I call it Revenge Writing. You know, when you dislike certain people to the point where all of their barf-green shades of blech seep into your brain and come out on the page in a scene in your book while you’re trying to write something else.

Just like they interfere in your real life, you let them interfere with your writing. You write colorfully about them, because the negative emotions they inspire get you going more than the people you actually like and because you want to repeat all of the outrageous things they say. But they don’t often belong in your novel, with some notable wonderful exceptions (like Nora Ephron’s Heartburn). You don’t want your characters to center around them any more than you want your life to.

My current objects of dislike are what I term OMGs (adults who persist in living life as if it is a perpetual middle school popularity and bullying contest). Even though my novel-in-progress is aimed exactly at the middle school age group, these particular people don’t belong in it.

But I have a little thank-you for one right now. A couple of days ago, a mere five-second encounter with an OMG finally got me writing a chapter I had been struggling to start all week. The brief real-life dialogue with her led to a key discussion in my story between two important and very likeable characters, a discussion which will guide my main character in solving a problem and getting what he wants. After I was done writing that chapter, I silently gave a thank you to the OMG for inspiring me, and to God for allowing me not to make the passage about her.

So I am happy to report that rather than getting bogged down in “Revenge Writing,” I have my scene; I have turned bad into good. I think it worked. I’ll find out later this month when my writing group colleagues have a look at it.


  1. I can so relate to you about these people and it cracked me up about how you so eloquently described them. Great example of lemons to lemonade. You're inspirational.


  2. These people are like the over-the-top villains Linda mentioned a few weeks ago. We remember them!

  3. Great to turn these real life OMGs into useful fictional fodder! I'm sure it lends realism and authenticity to the scene.

  4. I forgot to mention what OMG stands for. It's Overgrown Mean Girl :)

  5. We use our likes and dislikes, our peeves (pet and otherwise) and angst, in our fiction writing. How else would you insert emotion? You don't want to fake it.
    But I was fortunate that an editor toned one of my OMGs down to proper size, when my issues with this character went over the top of what was needed. This is where editing, the good kind, is golden.
    So YES- use it, even abuse it, so long as you are open to a wisely guided revision.