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Writing BIZARRO…

November 22, 2012


Zizek Press has had some experience of this…

Ljubljana Witch
Automatic Assassin
Planet Rasputin
Inland Vampire
Most of the short stuff on this site

Here are some of the things we’ve noticed:

1] Writing time is cut in half, maybe more.

If you’re writing in a normal genre, you have to try and make sure everything makes sense. Even during the first draft, you have to go back and make sure the right number of characters is dead, or other characters aren’t changing their minds about something important within one sentence. E.g. a character written as pacifist can’t say something militant [unless his family’s just been killed, this usually leads to extreme conservatism].

[Actually, there are some writers who do this and when caught out just say it’s ironic. I don’t think this can work every time.]

But with bizarro, it’s not so important. Mostly because a lot of weird things can be written without much explanation. The reality is loose and things just are. E.g. the pacifist can become a militant because Robert A Heinlein is inside his brain and he’s under attack from purple stuntmen.

Also, most bizarro books are done in 100 pages or less.


Some bizarro books I’ve read have suffered because of this. The weirdness is there, but it seems to have no meaning. And the characters are so far from reality that no-one cares if they get eaten by a space yeti or raped by Gary Cole’s shadow.

The better bizarro books will overcome this, and at the same time, keep the space yeti/Gary Cole’s shadow.

2] Balance

The best way to handle this, to make your story have some connectivity or connectiveness…some emotional attachment…is to a] make the main character do something nice or funny then kill them, or b] make the first half of the novel bizarro then slow it down and bring more reality into it.

Too much weirdness, even for only 90 pages, will get tiring.

3] Community

The people who read bizarro are about a thousand times more loyal than any other fanbase. They even made their own convention, for fuck’s sake. [Bizarro-con]

Something like ‘Twilight’ might seem to have a fanatical fanbase, but these people are either fucked in the head or teenagers. In another few years they’ll have moved onto something else or grown up.

Fans of bizarro are different. They stick around and support authors and books, not characters from the books. How many Twilight fans give a fuck about that author’s next book if it’s not Twilight? None. How many have created a Stephanie Meyer convention? Two, but it’s tiny.
It’s just not the same.

4] Other genres seem to be stealing from bizarro.

It’s true, they are. But there are no real geniuses among them. If something like ‘Cloud Atlas’ gets lauded as ‘original’ and ‘daring’ then…

I don’t know how to finish that sentence. I wanted to say that Cloud Atlas is just shit and, although not all bizarro books are great, most of them have more imagination than the writers who get called imaginative by the mainstream press. There’s a better way to write this, but I can’t think how [There was a knifefight outside my apartment last night, so I’m a bit tired].

5] ?

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