Granted, the official line is writers support each other. We're supposed to sit collegially at round tables and give each other constructive criticism and unstinting support or what Keats called "tea and comfortable advice" both in the meat world and online. We do stupid little things like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to see how prolifically and horribly we can write a full-length novel in a month.
In reality, however, and I count myself as the only writer of consequence on the planet earth who will publicly admit this, writers actually loath and despise each other. Whatever middling support wannabes show each other instantly evaporates the minute one of them gets a book deal. You don't believe me? Try asking an established author to put you in touch with their literary agent. Even though they know damned good and well many literary agencies work by referral or invitation only, you will see the frost literally form on your monitor as you wait for the answer.
So, no, writers do not support each other, especially when there's something at stake.
However, while there are many authors and writers I loath, I am not like the guy who said, "It is not enough that I succeed. Others must fail." Unlike a certain stalker in Farr West, Utah I can think of, I'm content to leave well enough alone because it's a foregone conclusion a bad book will sink of its own weight (which doesn't explain 50 Shades of Grey
but that's grist for another post).
However, when I see epically horrible writing that cannot be left to die of its own accord, I'm sorry, I just want to kick it with steel-toed boots even while it's writhing in its death throes.
Which brings me to Bad Blurbs, which I fear will be a series.
Authors do this all the time, especially on Twitter. They'll put up a .jpeg of a book cover that looks as if it was designed by an autistic 12 year-old using Photoshop for the first time. Often on these .jpegs, they'll provide the potential buyer with a sample of their writing. Now, this is supposed to be a superior example of your writing, a representation of your caliber as an author. Yet the above is what I just saw on my book and writing account on Twitter.
As painful as it is, I'll help you along by typing the entire transcript of the blurb:
Shaw rarely took his black eyes off Bronagh. He was a shield, her protector. He was crude and arrogant, aggressive yet tender, raucous and sexy, commanding but loyal. Bane Shaw was the imperfectly, perfect man.
If this blurb is supposed to warn the reader of another 80,000 words of banality awaiting them, then it succeeds admirably and spectacularly.
First off, I understand that there's a market out there for romance fiction. Barbara Cartland wrote exactly 756,935 romance novels in her lifetime and made a lot of pelf from it. That doesn't mean one should immediately sink into banality, genre stereotypes and cliche when availing oneself of that dubious muse.
Secondly, let's start with the "black eyes" of this Shaw guy. OK, I've never once in my life ever saw someone with black eyes. That's a creepy image, the only one the author ventures here (more on that later) and makes me think of countless stringy-haired girls in Japanese horror movies. Black eyes are not sexy. That's The Walking Dead
territory you're straying into.
Thirdly, a guy who rarely takes his eyes off a woman tends to be a clumsy stalker who's constantly running into street lights and mailboxes (Or, if it's a fantasy novel, unicorn horns and Hobbit houses). I get it that Shaw is captivated by the woman with the bastardized Gaelic name but a guy who rarely takes his Grudge
-type eyes off a woman is just bottomlessly creepy.
Then there's the mixing in the same sentence of an isolated metaphor, followed by a completely unnecessary, redundant and literal reiteration of what Shaw is to Erin Go Bragh or whatever her name is. Pick one and stick with it. But this overwriting and over-description just gets worse as the writer picks up steam and warms up to her subject. And thence begins the march of the adjectives.
In the third person narrator's observation, Shaw is by turns crude, arrogant, aggressive, tender, raucous, sexy, commanding and loyal. (Literary convention, I guess, can be forgiven for not commenting on whether or not he is also trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, alho he seems to have the loyal part down pat). And one should know they're getting far afield when they begin straying from romance cliches to pulp crime fiction cliches reminiscent of Sam Spade ("She walked into my office, sultry yet cool, a real femme fatale, a Lady in Red, with legs that went all the way up to the moon...").
Now, that's an awful lot for the reader to take in at once and I'm immediately put in mind of the Three Blind Chinese Men and the Elephant Syndrome. Which, up to a point works in fiction because each individual reader will form an image or impression of what a character is like.
And that's the crux of the problem in this Roget's regurgitant: They're not
images but concepts, ideas. And this inevitably brings us back to the old writing saw about showing, not telling. Anything else is wearisome exposition.
If one must resort to adjectives, make them unexpected and evocative. I recall once before using this example from Nathaniel Hawthorne when he once described a character as being, "Grave, sable and gray." That's a great image because Hawthorne used unexpected and mostly nonliteral adjectives to describe this character's appearance while giving a vivid hint of the kind of personality he had.
Now, one can't reasonably expect everyone to be Nathaniel Hawthorne but that doesn't mean one can jettison the basic rules of writing or violate inviolate ones.
And who the fuck names their kid "Bane?" That makes me think of Tom Hardy's character in The Dark Knight Rises
huffing into an arachnid-looking metal breathing apparatus. "Bane"? Seriously? And what the fuck's with the comma after the adverb "imperfectly"?
Honestly, take a writing class or at least read a lot and by that I do not mean tripe getting troweled out hourly by shitty publishers such as Harlequin. Get a couple of novels under your belt before venturing into self publication waters. Because this is what legacy publishers, literary agents, bookstores, reviewers and critics and, yes, even other authors point to when they sneer at how horrible self-published books are and why they refuse to even acknowledge them. You're simply making it harder for the more conscientious of us to successfully navigate the already harsh waters of self publishing.
Self publication has democratized the market, true. But, as our democratic political system teaches us time and again (while its lessons go unheeded), democracy comes with certain responsibilities and duties along with those rights.