My personal experience with the fiction genre is, well, non-existent. I can give you a step 1, step 2, and step 3 like a how-to virtuoso. But to make up a tale with plots (can there really be more than one?) and dialogue and conflict and under stories… I’m a neophyte. A corn on Stephen King’s baby toe.
So when I read books like Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey, it’s all a pre-k education for me. Research for my great urban novel that every princess like me dares to undertake in her lifetime.
And quite frankly, any book with the title “penmonkey” can’t be half-bad, right? I mean because penmonkey is a word that begs for your attention, right?
Well let’s just say penmonkey is the most tame of the vernacular here.
I grew up listening to Richard Pryor on my Barbie record player after school when I was a kid, so I love ‘colorful’ language. Well let’s just say that author Chuck Wendig is, ummm, very colorful.
He wields cusswords like a blind barracuda, whose just eaten a bubble eyed gold fish, who just swallowed two crack vials. By the way, that last statement is as insane as Chuck’s creative and fiery use of what I can only describe as “potty piss linguistics.”
You couldn’t outrun it if you were part Usain Bolt, part hungry cheetah – it lovingly permeates Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey like a bad armpit smell in an old t-shirt. (What… you don’t have one of those???)
But I digress… if you’re easily offended by bad words, do not peek behind the curtain. You’ll have a morality heart attack.
As for me, well I laughed (a lot) while rollicking with Mr. Penmonkey. I purposely stored away some very keen ideas on dialogue and emotional core and tension, as well as unicorns and goats.
It’s not an in-depth treatise on these topics (this book is a collection of his best blog posts), but more like a ‘think-on-these-snippets’ type explanation.
I must admit that even though my mind is constantly teeming with bad words, I only wanted to read a few chapters here and a few chapters there. (Which means nothing, since I still read the entire book in one day!)
The language is very powerful, and sometimes it kicks the penmonkey’s message square in the flagnog.
Would I recommend it?
Chuck gives you the strait poop like no other fiction teacher will serve it to you — hot, steaming and very stinky.
There’s no coddling here. No affirmations that you’re the best. It ain’t all dolled up in a beehive hairdo. Just the wicked truth about what it takes to become a salable fiction author.
And perhaps Chuck writes with such grittiness because in the end you need a tough skin to make it through the publishing birth canal.
Perhaps we need a few more Chucks to wield those forceps over our heads.