Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 4 – Pray thee, Joseph, 4 Y do these books suck?)

Blame the editor. Sometimes.

Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all! of this multi-post arc dealt with some folks I knew who vanity published their books back when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”.
Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing provided an overview of Vanity and Self publishing.
Part 3 – What Camp Are You In? identified four reasons people consider self-publishing.

What is my definition of “suck”?

Glad you asked because I’m not talking genre. I read poetry, genre, non-fiction, biography, … take a look at my Goodreads reviews. Do a title sort and you’ll see I read books all across the board. Titles beginning with “A” breakdown as follows:

  • Archeology – 1
  • Biography – 1
  • Classics – 1
  • Fantasy – 3
  • Humor – 3
  • Literary Analysis – 2
  • Literary Fiction – 2
  • Marketing – 1
  • Mystery – 3
  • Psychology – 2
  • Science Fiction – 5
  • Social Commentary – 3
Storytelling deals with “Do you have an interesting story to tell?”, storycrafting deals with “Can you tell your story in an interesting way?”

 

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Stanley Fish’s “How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One”

Is that an adverbial clause in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One was an interesting read that spawned my Great Opening Lines blog posts. I enjoyed it, didn’t always agree with it. The one truly fatal flaw (to me) is the lack of exercises, something like “Here’s a rotten sentence, fix it. See possible solutions in Appendix A”.

 
Fish’s explanations of what makes a sentence worth reading become – to me – increasingly complex as the book progresses. I was bordering on being lost by the time I got to his “First Sentences” chapter and started skimming, looking for the meat – the very thing he warns authors against – too many readers, when unsure of what’s going on – skim until they get to something they can understand.


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Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 6 – The Parole Hearing

Dead or Alive. Preferably Dead. Very Dead. Extremely Dead. Completely forget that “Alive” part, okay?

The wooden chair screeched across the hardwood floor as Phyl pulled it under her. She’d placed her small, black leather purse on the green topped officers’ table in front of her. It looked like a little black island in a puke green sea. The table reminded her of industrial breakroom tables; functional but not inviting. She shifted her purse as she sat, placing it before her but not so far in front as to claim space, not setting a boundary. Her stomach gurgled quietly and she glanced around to see if anyone noticed. No one had.

A guard, the one who met her in the parking lot, absently caught her eye and smiled. He had her move her car to a roped off area next to a construction trailer then escorted her to the parole hearing. He didn’t say much but did chat her up a bit, commenting on her deep blue skirt, cream colored blazer and sky blue blouse, offering that it highlighted her hair and eyes.

She wondered if her outfit was too tight. She didn’t think it was. It was all tailored but not form fitting. She wasn’t wearing her boobshirt. Low, functional heels, not CFMs. Schwab suggested this outfit.

It was okay. She could do this. She exhaled, picked up her purse, opened it, removed a protein bar, closed her purse, giving each act a separate, metered and precise effort.

Porcino was not getting out.

If he got out, she’d risk it all and kill him.


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Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines)

Opening lines that propel the reader into the mythic

This post is the third in a series on what makes any story’s – flash through novel – opening line great. Part 1 provided some background and why opinions only matter if you know enough about a subject to make an informed decision.
Part 2 covered what makes an opening line great.
Let me know what you think are great opening lines and I’ll include them in the series provided you explain what makes them great.

Fish mentions some websites that list beautiful sentences. You can find websites that list great opening lines and Fish has a “First Sentences” chapter in his book.

I had a problem with the websites: they offered a line, its source, but didn’t explain why the line is great.

How frustrating!

Perhaps they feared being subjective, hence being called in error. Kind of like everybody pointing at the sun and saying “That’s the sun.” Not much argument. Ask “Why is that the sun?” and people wonder at your intelligence if not sanity; isn’t it perfectly obvious that the sun is “the sun”?
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Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 3 – What Camp Are You In?)

Want to go camping? If you’re self-pubbed, you already are

Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all! of this multi-post arc dealt with some folks I knew who vanity published their books back when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”.
Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing provided an overview of Vanity and Self publishing.

I’ve talked with lots of self-published authors. They basically fall into four camps:

  1. Their plan A is to approach some set number of publishers/agents and, if everyone passes, plan B is to self-publish.
  2. They went straight to self-publishing and never approached a publisher.
  3. They were traditionally published, things changed (new editor(s), different production demands, change in publisher’s business model/plan, collapse in market, …) and they went the self-publishing route.
  4. They haven’t found a publisher who’ll take their work and gave up the traditional publishing route.

Note that camps 1 and 4 are not the same. Camp 1 is a plan of attack, camp 4 is an unplanned retreat. There’s one other camp and, so far as I know, I’m the only person in it. I’m sure there are others in here with me, I haven’t found them yet (big camp, few campers).
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