The Guilty Party

Friday, April 30, 2010

You Think Writing a Novel is Tough, pt. 2

A little over year ago I did a piece titled "You Think Writing a Novel is Tough" in which I examined a number of blurbs unknown writers (much like myself) were using to try to catch the attention of readers/reviewers at a couple of the writers' websites I like to loiter in. It was pretty apparent, at least to me, that what should be the simple, straightforward act of writing a sentence or two that neatly encapsulates ones novel is in fact a more than challenging task, one that is indeed fraught with peril. A lot of folks got a big kick out of the piece, others took exception and told me to go to blazes, or words to that effect. So to please the one set I thought we would revisit the subject. This time I restricted myself to the top ranked works at just one writers' site. These books are the ones getting the most positive attention, the ones most likely to end up in front of a professional editor for a critique and, who knows?! Perhaps even a published contract. If the editors can get past the blurbs.

The Twelfth House

Fiction, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Death awards John with mindreading.
The ancient sword awakes Aleksandra's pastlife memories.
David is after ancient civilisation's secrets. The race for survival is on.

Fiction? Really? I must say that I had no idea Death passed out rewards. Ancient swords can be tricky, so that looks like fun. And if ancient civilization (there was just one?) has its secrets, then perhaps David should exercise some courtesy and find something else to occupy his time. That race looks like it will be challenge enough.

Belfast Girls

Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Comedy

Three girls, friends from childhood. Supermodel Sheila Doherty is kidnapped. Can John Branagh rescue her? Her friend, Phil, is arrested. Mary takes an overdose.

Just a tad confused here, probably my fault. Is Sheila the Supermodel one of the three friends? Is Mary? If so, that just accounts for two. Unless Phil used to be Philleda and the reason for his arrest is because he absentmindedly stepped into the men's restroom at TGIF.


A Child from the Wishing Well

Literary Fiction, Thriller

Gerard's wish is to break out of paranoia, discover daughter Rosie's love.
Is music tutor Ruth's foul-smelling well a place wishes happen?
Psychological suspense thriller

I can hardly blame Gerard for wishing not to be paranoid anymore. It must be wearing on a person. As for discovering Rosie's love, has Gerard considered perhaps sneaking a look at her cell phone and checking her texts? Chances are most of them will be from her sweetie. And I can't imagine having a open, odiferous hole on the property is any enticement for prospective music students. But what do I know.


Phasmatis: Back to Life

Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult

You're a kid. You die. That's not how it's supposed to be.
So you need to get back to sort things out. But how?

Ask for Mr. Jordan. Unless he only handles grownups who died inconveniently. I'm thinking that would keep anybody busy.


Alby And Me

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

A powerful and poignant evocation of the special friendship of two unusual boys, and the dramatic events that shaped their lives.

Powerful and poignant? You don't say? And it involves something special, unusual characters, and dramatic events. Gotta be good, right? But my first impulse when I see the word "evocation" is to evacuate the premises. Lord only knows what other sorts of verbiage the actual misdemeanor might contain in droves.

Future's End

Fiction, Thriller

In 2015 our world again stands on the precipice of global financial meltdown. This time we fall over into the cauldron of anarchy waiting below.

Oh now you're just bumming me out. Unless it means all records of my credit card debt are lost in the cauldron of anarchy. That would be cool.


Sicilian Shadows

History, Biography, Travel, Crime

Based on real experiences.
An English child. An ancient isle.
A sweetheart, mythology, the Mafia, good food, Frank Sinatra, philosophy and...a shotgun.

And it all adds up to….a book in need of an actual theme.

Deadly Nevergreen

Fiction, Literary Fiction, Thriller, Crime

Saxon burial mounds and smugglers' caves; thatched cottages and village churches; not a setting in which you'd expect to be kicked to death.

And in just what sort of setting could one reasonably expect to encounter death by boot toe? Come to think of it (now that I reread the blurb) just which setting are you referring to? Seems to me there is a bit of difference in ambience between a smugglers' cave and a village church. Or not. I suppose it depends on the smugglers and the pastor involved.

Impeding Justice

Fiction, Thriller, Crime

The Unicorn returns with clear intent ... to make life unbearable for DI Simpkins!

Ancient swords are tricky, but unicorns with clear intent are to be avoided altogether. Although think about it, when have you ever met a unicorn that wasn't at least a wee bit indecisive?


The Free

Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Young Adult

Live through the collapse of capitalism, blow by blow,
with a rainbow of self-help community adventurers..
Laughing and lamenting.. Inventing revolution.

Is this the sequel to the one about financial meltdowns and cauldrons of anarchy? And is the credit card deal still on the table?


The Keeper and the Rune Stone

Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult

An unholy ritual, a horrifying result. A ticking clock. Four children discover that there are things that go bump in the night.

Unholy rituals have a deserved reputation for horrifying--or at least deeply weird--results. Ticking clocks are simply doing what they were intended to do and should not be blamed for the time sensitive problems experienced by folks who most likely procrastinated their way into whatever bind they are in. And if the children will simply pull the covers over their heads they can be confident that they will be safe from the sound of the house settling.


The Swan Bonnet

Historical Fiction, Children's, Young Adult, Crime

Swans are endangered in 1920s Alaska yet Dawn plans to see the fall migration. In their seaport town, her mother's hat can decoy poachers.

Just how does a hat decoy poachers? Do we mean that it looks like a swan? If so, and there are swan poachers about, I'm thinking that wearing such headgear would be courting trouble.


Golden Moon

Fiction, Children's, Young Adult, Comedy

Golden Moon shares telepathic images and recollections about birth, mid-western ranch life, running Mustang wild and coming home to a boy's love.

And it's funny too.

Another Day in Paradise

Fiction, Romance, Business, Crime

Reed faces the horror of a wrong decision. Revenge is the only answer, but how ? He thinks he has fourteen months. It's much less.

These are all short, punchy sentences. But they don't really tell us anything, do they? What was the decision  Reed made? It must have been a doozy.


Popular Culture, Christian, Religious, Comedy

You're not coming in, you're not on the list. God's barred white folk from heaven. John-the-Catholic doesn't think it's fair. He thinks he has 'rights'.

The Big Guy would probably prefer "God has" to "God's", but maybe He's (sorry, He is) more open minded about such things than I give Him (or Her, covering my bases here) credit for. In any case, it looks to me like a deity is about to be served with a summons. Wouldn't want to be the fellow delivering that bit of paper.


The Time Hunters

Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult

Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy, Will Scarlet and a Sabre-tooth tiger called Milly race through and against time on a quest for the legendary Golden Fleece.

This one works. Leaves a person to wonder how it came to be in such company.


Timberati said...

Pass, pass, pass, pass...

They're trying to be alluring and seductive. They're succeeding at being confusing.

When I ask someone what their story's about, I don't want riddles. It's an "elevator pitch" for gravy's sake, not "blurb haiku."

I'm not saying it's easy to do. But it has to be similarly phrase to the way you'd tell a friend about a movie you just saw.

Lexi said...

Alan, you have pleased me, and I'm glad you declined to go to blazes.

Most of these pitches are strangely off-putting, when the intention is quite the opposite...

A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.