12/02/2012 06:12 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2013

Another Surprising Secret to Great Novels

You've spent years polishing your novel into a tightly woven web of suspense, or perhaps a coming-of-age meditation about a beautiful life surviving in ugly times, and it didn't sell. Am I right? Okay, maybe your tale is more profound than the tripe I've reduced it to, but the bottom line is, the damn thing's still sitting on a shelf, a masterpiece-in-waiting. I'm sure you've made statements to yourself about how it is a story ahead of its time and some audience in the distant future will recognize you as the second coming of Knut Hamsun, but that is a lie and we both know it. What if I told you that there was a much more simple reason your book is currently worthless?

If I was a dick, I would string you along for five more paragraphs and then instruct you to buy some bullshit writing tutorial of mine off some bullshit writing tutorial website, but I'm not that guy. Yet. No, my only agenda is to make sure you become a success in your own age. So here, without further ado, is the secret to your success: flatulence.

Don't go away mad thinking I'm wasting your time until you've fully heard me out. After all, there's a reason I'm here and you're there. And I promise that answer is flatulence. In real life, the average person farts roughly 20 times a day, how many times do you have your characters shit wind? If the answer is zero, your character suddenly doesn't sound too real, do they?

Philip Roth, James Joyce, Chaucer, and even Dante wrote about their characters passing gas, breaking wind, or floating an "air biscuit." Not so skeptical now are you?

You see, the fart describes a character better than any other single attribute. How your characters react to farts -- their own and others -- informs your reader greatly about not only the quality of your character's personality, but also of subtle physical attributes you didn't realize were important. Which of the following sentences fleshes out the more evocative character:

Toby always drank his Chivas neat, eyes closed, with one calloused hand gripping the imperfect crystal base of his rocks glass, forcing the heat in his veins, in his very blood, to warm his drink.


Toby cut a blasting trumpet fart that snaked forth from muscled cheeks and spoke poison about his carnivorous predilections; he then glared about the room, daring his parishioners to object, before clamping his eyes shut to toss back another belt of the sauce, Chivas neat, from a bad glass made hot by the unceasing grasp of his worked fingers.

Damn, right? Just by adding a simple fart, we learn so much more about what an unbalanced soul this Father Toby is. Run-on sentence be damned, if those two lines are novel openers, guess which one will keep the agents hanging on for more? The fart forces your character to be "true" as well as compels you forward as a writer. Look at all the extra story you naturally create when accounting for an air poop. Why is Father Toby's butt so muscled? Why is he consuming a meat-heavy diet? Why is he so brazen about his "barking spiders"? Why is he drinking Scotch in church? These are all questions that must now be answered, and that is only from one butt yodel -- by my count you've got 19 more of these Irish roses with which to create richer, fuller literature.

I realize some of you are a little bit shy, or embarrassed about anal sneezes. You maybe think, "if my characters fart, then editors will think I fart too." I assure you that this fear is unfounded. The best editors are fart machines! A diet rich in coffee and a lifetime of ulcers from being awash in the torment of brilliantly constructed prose will do that to even the most hale of stomachs.

Now go back to your manuscripts and add a shitload of ass burps. And when in doubt, remember this simple ditty: "If your book ain't wrote with ease, it's weak on the wet, brown breeze." You can thank me when you're prolific.