Friday, August 13, 2010

Writing is Hard: How Not to Write

This week's been threatening to get away from me since it started and yesterday it finally did. So there'll be a couple of more posts than usual today to make up for it.

How Not to Write About Africa

As a guy who loves jungle stories, but is sensitive to the racism in many of that genre's tropes, I found this article extremely helpful.

How Not to Write the Blurb for a Fantasy Novel

Maybe this is just me, so tell me in the comments if it bugs you too, but there's something that'll turn me off a fantasy novel every single time, even when the cover is as gorgeous as this one by Dan Dos Santos. From the Amazon Product Description for The Questing Road: "Acolytes to a dark god have crossed the gulf between worlds to abduct an innocent tariling..."

The italics are in the description, but they also highlight the word that stopped me cold. I've got no idea what a "tariling" is and I hate having to read the rest of the blurb to find out. Reading a blurb should be about discovering if I want to buy a book, not solving a mystery. In this case, I gather that a tariling is a cat-like creature (though the blurb likes the word "felinoid"). Couldn't it have just said that right up front?

I guess there must be an audience that enjoys being plunged cold into a world where everything has to be deciphered from the get-go, but I'm not part of it. I appreciate a fully realized world with its own languages and cultures and creatures to discover, but I prefer to be introduced to the strangeness gradually, not playing catch up from the first page. Or the cover blurb.

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