01 May 2010

Fake Pocket Syndrome

Continuing the theme of strange analogies from my last post, I’d like to talk about fake pockets and writing today.

Fake pockets are the bane of my fashionable existence. Nothing’s worse than going to stash my bank card or chapstick, only to encounter resistance. No pocket for you! It’s a disappointment, to say the least. Words can scarcely describe the letdown. In your writing, you should be aware of Fake Pocket Syndrome, to avoid irritating your readers and turning them off of your story.

Fake pockets promise, but don’t deliver. So your hero is a tough manly man who finds himself relying on the aid of a sultry vixen to accomplish his mission. The entire book is rife with sexual tension, but in the end the two shake hands and part ways like old drinking buddies. I call Fake Pocket Syndrome (FPS)! You can’t string a reader along like that, and not follow through. I’m not saying you have to write a torrid bedroom scene, but they had better at least kiss, or you need to at least allude to what we’re all expecting to happen. If your significant other spends an hour getting you worked up, then heads to the bedroom and….. goes to SLEEP, you’d be pretty pissed, wouldn’t you?

Fake pockets have no function. Even their aesthetic function is questionable. If you’re going to do horrible things to my bum by slapping a set of flap pockets back there, there had better be a good reason for it - like a place to put my credit card and ID when I don’t want to carry a purse. If your book starts with a character going on for two paragraphs about what she ate the day before, there should be a good reason for that. And sorry, but “I thought it was funny” is not good enough. For example, she’s a hypochondriac who woke up with a slight cough and is convinced that something she ate was tainted and has given her a horrible disease. Well now, that could be an interesting introduction to your character. But if her eating habits have nothing to do with anything, why are you boring the rest of us by detailing them? Also, just because a passage “sounds nice” doesn’t make it relevant. Sometimes you gotta kill your darlings. It’s up to you, though, and if you can really justify something, keep it.

Fake pockets take time and energy to create. No pocket at all would be quicker, easier, and more cost-effective. Save yourself and your editor some time and effort, and be aware of FPS from the beginning, and avoid it at all costs. The less junk you put in, the less you’ll have to cut out later on.

So take a long hard look at your manuscript. Are you a victim of FPS? Fear not, with a few snipped stitches here and there, you’ll have those pockets functional in no time.


  1. Fake Pocket Syndrome - I love it! Well actually I hate it but I love the name for it - that's really awesome :)

  2. Must do another edit to remove all evidence of FPS.

  3. FPS - very funny! I love the name of the blog, too.


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