Conventional wisdom about writing is conventionally wrong.
There’s a funny little post on reddit that actually gives us (1) a nice laugh and (2) a great little lesson in writing.
Here’s the story:
At the grocery store he’s running around doing superhero moves with a fierce expression and making kind of a spectacle of himself. A lady says, “Hello, young man, what’s your name?”
In a little kids’ version of a growly voice, he says “I’m Batman.”
The lady laughs. “I mean, what’s your real name?”
Again: “I’m BATMAN!”
“No, what’s your actual real name?”
As a father and a fan of Batman, I love this.
As a writer, I see a story in 66 words. How many words could you kill without hurting the story? Not many.
Everything has a purpose.
If you read this silly blog, you know about setups and payoffs, which are essential tools for writers of all sorts, whether you’re a blogger, a journalist, a speechwriter or a novelist finishing a 242,000-word epic about elves with lightsabers riding dragons. (Sidenote: I keep waiting for somebody to actually write this Jedi elf saga as a parody, or send me a link to the actual books, because THEY MUST EXIST.)
This little story has multiple setups that all pay off with the last line. It’s beautifully done and the laugh comes not just from the surprise, but from all those careful setups.
Bonus Video: little kid instructs adult in proper Batman voice
Bonus Photo: The many moods of Batman
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.