Friday, September 1, 2017

How To Burn A Book

Reasonably frequent listeners to my podcast might be familiar with my friend CloudCuckooCountry, who's been a guest on a few episodes. Well, what you might not have known is that he does book reviews on his YouTube channel. These reviews are always very well considered and phrased, and I greatly enjoy his content. Recently he's taken to doing "book burnings" on his channel, wherein he'll find a book that deserves to be ripped an entirely new fucking hole and proceed to rip that hole himself.

He recently put up the second half of his Book Burning of The Ancient Solitary Reign, which might be the worst book published in the English language.  Might. Lot of contenders for that spot, but this book makes an admirable try for the title. I'm convinced it's won, just from his videos, but that might be because he hasn't gotten to the Next Worst Thing yet. I'll bring you the updates as they come.

But, apart from wanting to promote the work of my friend (that he is not paying me for, nor did he ask me to do. Full disclosure, I'm doing this because I love my friend, love his videos, and love the writing advice he dispenses), the reason that I'm making this post is that he gives out some very good advice in these two videos that I think the PulpRev should listen to and take note of. He basically takes a proper copy editor's ax to this book, and explains how sentences could be shortened and have unnecessary words removed to make the sentences shorter, punchier, and have far more impact, and this is advice that lots of writers need to hear. 

I was having a conversation with Christopher Warren today, and he showed me the first page of the #1 (at the time) horror novel on Amazon, and I had so many problems with the first page that I almost had an aneurysm. My internal editor was red-penning the fuck out of it, with "Unnecessary. Unnecessary. Unnecessary. This should be one sentence. This should be phrased differently. Lazy words." over and over again. In ONE (1) PAGE. And a third of that page was taken up by the "Chapter 1" thing. It's a serious problem in literature of any stripe nowadays, and learning to recognize this kind of lazy, or overly verbose, or overly clinical writing is a tool that every author needs in their toolbox. 

Also I feel I should warn you, this book is xenofiction. Meaning something like Redwall or Watership Down, wherein the story is told from the point of view of sentient animals. It also contains owl sex, and is a master class in how NOT to put sex in your books and stories. Trust me, you're going to want to watch the videos to find out how bad this can get, but I can tell you from my personally shattered brain that this book does everything it can to be as bad as possible. 

But really, this is a spectacle you have to see for yourself. So without further ado, CloudCuckooCountry and the Book Burning of The Ancient Solitary Reign. And apparently Blogger's YouTube embed system doesn't want to find the proper videos, so I'll link to them below, in order.

Book Burning: The Ancient Solitary Reign Part 1 (ft. Shammy)

Book Burning: The Ancient Solitary Reign Part 2 (ft. Shammy and Antony C)

Just watch them. Trust me. You have to see this to believe it. 

And while you're watching, take serious notes.  There is a lot of good information in this for authors to keep in mind while they're writing that will help your short story or book suck far, FAR less.

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