Ever since my tweet about skeletons on vacation in Bermuda (‘Snorkel? Do I look like I need a snorkel?’) lots of readers might have been wondering, what are your tips for writing about skeletons? Like any subject matter that involves lots of shiny white bones and perfectly skin-free skulls, there are important rules to observe when writing about skeletons in order to come up with a piece of writing that’s entertaining, enjoyable and not too gross. Here are ten of the most important:

1. Know your skeleton’s back story. A skeleton that belonged to a little boy from Fresno will act in a totally different way than a skeleton that belonged to a trucker from Tampa. Hint: The Fresno skeleton will be smaller.

2. Stay away from skeleton romance. The skeleton erotica genre is a tricky one and best handled by experts. If you must include a sexual element, try having your skeleton seductively fondle a rubber Halloween skull mask.

3. Watch out for clichés. As in any genre, certain stories in skeleton fiction have been done to death. Your readers don’t need to see yet another story about the young skeleton boy who loses his beloved skeleton dog. Especially in a freeway accident.

4. You can’t go wrong with a plot line where your main character tries to cover up sordid misbehavior from their past. We don’t have the phrase ‘skeletons in the closet’ for nothing.

5. Don’t fall into the trap of writing about skeletons only from extreme ends of the socio-economic spectrum or skeletons with so-called ‘magical powers’. There’s still a lot to be written about the plight of the typical middle-class skeleton with no extraordinary abilities.

6. A good heart-tugging scene is the one where your skeleton loses its skull and has to retrieve it from a high school biology classroom. This is always great for a ‘skeletons are people too’ kind of moment.

7. Don’t shy away from controversial issues. Such hot button topics as skeleton euthanasia, ceramic surgery and ‘equal pay for equal bones’ can make for solid stories.

8. Focus on what separates your skeleton from other skeletons. Does it have unusually large eye holes? A missing rib? A femur with an interesting malformation? These are the precise details that will stick in your reader’s mind.

9. Scenes in a restaurant, over dinner? Don’t do it. Just awkward.

10. Finally, your own best guidance for good skeleton writing is probably already deep inside you. Take the time fora long hard look within, and if that still doesn’t work, get an x-ray.

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Don’t forget to check out my novel I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter: http://amzn.to/1gwPt3U

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