Presented in AABB rhyming structure, the poem is also a Homage to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's poetic style. It borrows heavily from "When You're Lying Awake" (also known as "the (Lord Chancellor's) Nightmare Song"), written for Iolanthe. In this work, Dr Asimov declaims about troubles and mistakes that stem from writers being distracted by their incessant need to write. However, bright sides; despite the mess you've left behind, the story has wholly left your mind, and on paper now resides.
Examples of tropes within this work:
- Always Male: (Conversational Troping) The poem recommends four male heroes be used (only four and no more), with the addition of one female heroine to inspire them to violence.
- Another Dimension: In the Science Fiction outline, the heroes use hyperspace to quickly travel between star systems, but find themselves in the wrong galaxy.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In this case, the "shiny" is the new Science Fiction plot in the author's head. It is sufficiently distracting that a traffic accident is caused when you sideswipe another car.
- Books on Trope: Turns the exercise of writing a Science Fiction story into a nightmare of obsession and distraction until you can finally finish the manuscript.
- Damsel in Distress: The Science Fiction outline described by the poem adds a female character explicitly to encourage the male heroes to action, revising the number of crew members to include a woman for the men to rescue.
- Dedication: Dr Asimov prefaces this poem with an apology to W. S. Gilbert.
- Genius Slob: By the time you have finished a manuscript, you'll have lost your car, sense of time and fashion, and convinced everyone that you're crazy."You don't know where you are, or the site of your car, and your tie is askew and you haven't a clue of the time of the day or of what people say or the fact that they stare at your socks (not a pair) and decide it's a fad, or else that you're mad, which is just a surmise from the gleam in your eyes, till at last they conclude from your general mood, you'll be mad from right now till you're hoary."
- Homage: This poem takes Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's humorous rhyming, drawing upon "When You're Lying Awake" (also known as "the (Lord Chancellor's) Nightmare Song"), written for Iolanthe. It treats the concept of writing as an obsessive need that distracts from mundane needs such as hygiene and conversation, until you hold the completed manuscript in hand.
- Humans Are Warriors: In the Science Fiction outline described by this poem, humans are powerful warriors, especially when they're trying to rescue their women.
- The Madness Place: Rather than engineering things that disregard the laws of physics, this poem describes how the obsession of writing can cause the same sort of casual disregard for food, people, and traffic lights. Authors cannot leave until the manuscript is complete.
- Mars Needs Women: The sole woman on the team is lusted after by the aliens because she is conventionally beautiful. The poem points out that this needs to be glossed over before the audience realizes that the aliens wouldn't care about her appearance."Just the same you go fast till this section is passed so the reader won't raise any ruction, When recalling the foe are all reptiles and so have no interest in human seduction."
- Patter Song: This song acts as an Homage to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's "When You're Lying Awake" (also known as "the (Lord Chancellor's) Nightmare Song"), written for Iolanthe. The poem has a number of phrases that evoke a Tongue Twister sense by including rhymes within the lines, and the penultimate line is at least three times as long as any other line.
- Second-Person Narration: "You" are a Science Fiction writer, distracted from day-to-day things like conversations, traffic lights, and other cars by your new story. Getting caught up in the third-person perspective of the story, you cannot escape the obsession until after you've completed the outline, and you "wake up" in complete disarray.
- Show Within a Show: The poem outlines a Science Fiction plot to show the obsession with writing, to the exclusion of everything else.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: The apology at at start of the poem admits that Dr Asimov was imitating W. S. Gilbert when he was composing this poem.
- The Smurfette Principle: Out of the five heroes (no more, no less), one of them must be an attractive (and scantily clad) woman who must be put in danger before the heroes try to escape.
- Subspace or Hyperspace: In the Science Fiction outline, the heroes use hyperspace to quickly travel between star systems, but find themselves in the wrong galaxy.