Hi. I’m Humphrey. I’m a cat. I’m also a writer. You didn’t know that, did you? Another thing you don’t know is how old I am. That’s because I’ve discovered some great secrets to use in my writing to never let an editor know my age. These secrets are better than anti-aging cream!
You may wonder why I want to keep my age a secret. It’s the editors. They’re young. They’re fresh faces! They don’t wanna get manuscripts from an old cat like me. Hey, at my age, I may be over-the-hill in cat years—but not my writing! My writing’s energetic. My stories are hip! My prose is purrfect! Here are three of the strategies I use to make sure I don’t give my age away.
1. I put one space between each sentence, not two. You see, the fastest way to let an editor know you’re reaching retirement is to put two spaces in between each sentence. An editor reads the first sentence of your manuscript, sees those two spaces after it, and a red light flashes in her brain. “Warning! Beware! Get ready to be bored! This writer’s too old to know what the new rules are. This writer’s too old to care. This writer’s too old to accept change!”
You see, if you’re like me, when I was in Feline High, I learned to type two spaces after each sentence. On the typewriter. (Okay, now the cat’s out of the bag. I was around when the invention of the electric typewriter was all the rage!) The problem is, with the age of computers, that’s not how it’s done any more. Now you’re only supposed to type one space after each sentence. That’s what the young whippersnappers learn to do.
So, I did it! I’m not gonna let some young, wet-behind-the-ears editor reject my manuscript just because she thinks I’m an old geezer. I trained myself to just hit one space between each sentence. It took about two weeks of concentrating—and that’s typing with paws! But I did it. Now it’s easy.
2. Another strategy I use to hide my age is that I choose names for the characters in my stories that are mod. I avoid the temptation to use my favorite names. Sure, I want to name them Lucy, after my favorite old poochie pal. But I don’t unless I’m writing a historical novel. I want to name them Pitterpat or Chuck or Sandman after my favorite aunt or uncle. But I don’t.
Instead, I look for current names. Now names. Names that sound like the cat’s meow. Names I might not necessarily like but are popular today. I borrowed my niece’s year book. She’s in first grade at Furry Fun Elementary. I photocopied a bunch of kitten names and keep ‘em handy. I bought a book of baby names. 35,000+ Baby Names by Bruce Lanksy is the best! It even tells what cultural background each name is from so I can include a multi-ethnic cast of characters in my stories. That’s another strategy that keeps my manuscripts up to date.
3. Another way I keep my age a secret is to keep Mama and Papa cat in the background of the story. I don’t let them take center stage like they did in MY favorite books that I liked to read when I was small enough to hide under the couch and climb to the top of the curtains. I let the kittens in my stories come up with their own ideas, make their own decisions, and solve their own problems. Sure, their parents are there when it counts. But they don’t do anything to directly influence the outcome of the plot. I leave that up to the kittens.
So there you have it: My super strategies to keep my age a secret. No editor’s gonna paws or reject my manuscript because it looks or sounds out of touch with this generation. No way!