I want to write like Neal Stephenson- I read Snow Crash and absolutely fell in love with the style. I'm trying to write a cyberpunk style book myself, and I have a good plot (I think), but I want to make it humorous. Stephenson's style works extraordinarily well, so I figured that I might as well piggyback on his signal, so to speak.

1 Answer 1


I can appreciate the feeling, since I started out that way myself, but it's not an adult way to write. The short answer is "No, find your own voice."

The longer answer, and explanation: You're suffering from Red Shorts Syndrome.

What does that mean? Well, let's say you watch a race, and the guy who won the race wore red shorts. If you want to win a race, do you go out and buy red shorts and assume that wearing them will make you win? No, you look at what the winner did to train himself so that he could win. Did he run half-marathons every day? Eat minimal carbs? Drink seaweed tea? What techniques did he use to make his skill set better? That's the idea you want to copy. Not even the actions: the mindset. This guy knew that carbs made him sluggish, so he ate as little carbs as possible. Maybe your albatross is dairy, so you cut out dairy instead.

In writing terms: what do you love about this book? You say you love the genre (cyberpunk). Do you like his prose style? Do you like how he plots? Are there other cyberpunk books you also love? Other Stephenson books? What do they have in common?

Make a list of the goals you want to accomplish: a book written in X style, which is funny, which has Y kind of character, set in Z setting, and so on. Then throw away Snow Crash and focus on your own story. Don't mimic someone else. Write the best funny cyberpunk you can write. Stephenson, one imagines, was not copying some other writer when creating Snow Crash. He was doing something unique to himself.

Copy the work ethic, not the end result.

  • (love the name) I liked his humor, I liked the concepts like the Metaverse, harpooning Kouriers, CosaNotra Pizza, etc. Especially the Metaverse. (I'm a programmer as well as a reader, so it really resonated with me.) I have trouble writing humorously. Any tips/books on how to write good humor? Thanks
    – m4tt
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 21:38
  • I appreciate how the help from the writing community here, everyone is so nice and helpful
    – m4tt
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 21:40
  • Other questions which have been asked about humor on this board: writers.stackexchange.com/questions/1415/tips-for-humor-writing, writers.stackexchange.com/questions/295/… Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 1:12

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