5 Writing Lessons from Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Amusingly enough, I intended to write a blog post about Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John back in 2011--when I wasn't serious enough. I even left a comment on his author's blog about me going to write a review of it. Of course, I didn't follow through. 

He happened to respond. Embarrassing, huh?

But I finally got to it.

Five Flavors of Dumb cover.
Hmm...four band members in the back.
Five Flavors of Dumb is a fantastic book. Instead of doing a conventional review, since I'm not mainly a book blogger, here's five lessons you can take away from the book to apply to your own writing:

1) How to Cut to the Chase:
Seriously, the way Mr. Antony John streamlines his Act One makes me envy his beginning so much. It's the kind I want for Manifestation Files, although my own WIP has a little problem with tightening without losing substance. Five Flavors of Dumb doesn't have that problem though. One scene establishes the core cast, next scene establishes Piper's deafness, next scene deals with other stuff, next scene establishes the main problem: that Piper's parents drained her college fund, and the next scene hooks Piper up with the band.

Overall, it gets into the "Fun and Games" part at lightning speed (according to Save the Cat), without suffering, from not establishing enough. Exposition is handled nicely, along with little summary. Just tight, hooking scene that doesn't dilly-dally at all.

2) How to Do "Less is Better" with Cursing
I'm all over the place in terms of cursing. A lot of the time, the absence of it is acceptable. I hadn't seen too many cases where too much had been used, yet usually it seems to be too edgy for my tastes. Meanwhile, my writing has a balance where I'm not sure if my narrator should curse more or not.

Five Flavors of Dumb was able to strike its own balance. The f-word was used once, in the middle of the story during an argument with Piper and her parents. This conflict is central among the story, since them draining her college fund is the cause of the story. However, Piper using this strong word once helped highlight this conflict.

A couple of the Seven Dirty words were also used in standout moments, which also worked.

3) How to Orchestrate a Train-wreck Moment
I can't say too much without spoiling what happens for The Darkest Hour, but Piper digs herself into a hole. For example, recording a soft rock song for the sake of promoting Dumb. And they do hard-rock.

Of course, this mess climaxes with a perfect train-wreck moment: it's horrible, but you just can't look away.

I say that the Act Three climax is a little too effective, since I ran out of emotional steam for the real climax, but it's so engaging to see the worst that can happen taken to such an extreme.

4) How to Enrich the Story with Research
Although some artistic liberties are taken, the aknowledgements show that the author did his research. Namely, he has personal experience with music, and he consulted experts for decepting Piper's deafness.

5) How to Make Coffee-Making Romantic
To this day, the details used in the coffee-making scene makes the one kissing scene stand out from many other romantic moments. Screw Ky teaching Cassia how to write, I want that cup!

Remember, the mundane can beat the melodramatic in terms of those little moments.

Other Thoughts

One minor down-fall I'll point out though is a little lack of logic on Piper's part at the beginning of the story. For example, how could see not know about music covers if she spent an hour researching bands and such? However, the rest of that book pushed that nitpick to the side.

Overall, it's 5 stars out of 5, and that's something I don't apply lightly. I recently re-read it, and it was still enjoyable the second time around. As a realistic fiction, it's endearing, entertaining, and possesses page-turning drive.

Not to mention I got the author's signature on my own copy.

Hopefully, this is better than the review I would have written back in 2011.

Buy Five Flavors of Dumb HERE.

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