Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Euthanise Your Novel: Letters from an Evil Book Doctor #1

The Guessing Game Manuscript


Congratulations! Of all the potential points of failure in the production of a marketable novel manuscript, you failed at the first hurdle by not including a title page. Well done, you. Whoever you are. No, really. Most aspiring writers take until at least the first sentence to inspire the head-desking and muttered imprecations that foreshadow the inevitable klunk-kchik, phwoomf, ka-choinnnnnng! of the Trebuchet of Fiery Rejection sending their Zippo-ignited manuscript flying back towards their gormlessly grinning front teeth. You though... you managed to trounce even the keenest of cretins. First hurdle? Nay, verily you managed to tie your laces together and faceplant in the fucking changing room.

Is it so hard to type the title of your novel, centred horizontally and vertically on a blank page? Is it so very difficult to hit Enter and type your byline on the line directly below? Other than that, all you had to include was, in the bottom left corner, a word count (rounded to the nearest thousand, thanks, because we're not Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man,) your legal name (since this might be different from your byline and you really do want us to know who to make the contract and cheque out to,) and your contact details--email and snail mail.

Yes, I'm sure some of this was included in your cover letter--for values of was equalling might or might not have been--but sadly I used the back of your cover letter to write this week's draft of my eventual suicide note, subsequently crumpled and burned in frustration at my inability to do justice to the true horror and despair of life as a book doctor dealing almost wholly with patients of terminal brain atrophy. When I say doctor, veterinarian might be more apposite. When I say veterinarian, I might actually mean the guy with the gun who, at the vet's sad headshake, puts a bullet in the poor crippled horse's brain.

So, yes, I offer you my hearty congratulations for surpassing all others in oblivious idiocy. You must imagine sirens, klaxons, flashing lights, the full rigmarole of a game show jackpot. Unfortunately, owing to the absence of contact details, I have no idea where to send the Stupid Prize you've so resoundingly won. Nor indeed do I have any clue where to send this notification of your success (which is to say, abject failure.) What am I to do? Hire a host of medieval town criers to read this letter out with a booming hear ye! from every market square in the country?

All I can think of, to be honest, is to publish this communiqué via my blog. Who knows? Maybe I'll make a practise of it with others such as yourself. Maybe one day all the entries will be collected in a book of cruel flytings--a compendium of letters like this one, each illustrating by example one of the many follies of aspiring writers. And maybe  one late November day your dear Aunt Trudy or Cousin Joe-Bob, knowing your dreams of publication, will spot said book on the shelf of their local Waterstones, purchase it in the mistaken belief that underneath the "ironic humour" it's aimed to help a writer like yourself... rather than to persuade you, with all sincerity, to please, for the love of Cock, just take your fiction out behind the stables and put a bullet in the back of its head. I can only pray that they might take it merrily home, wrap it in the shiniest Santa-spattered foil-effect wrapping paper and present it to you as a perfect Christmas stocking-filler for the would-be novelist. Should this indeed be the reason you're reading this now, at some point in my future, let me take the opportunity to (finally) inform you in no uncertain terms: you fail.

In the meantime, as I sit here typing this letter I have no fucking idea where to send, I shall simply wish you the best of luck with whatever the fuck your novel is called, secure in the knowledge that those wishes have little more than a snowball's chance in hell of ever reaching you.

Hugz and kittehz,

Doktor Hal



Blogger Gary Gibson, science fiction writer said...

Dude. Why hold back? Tell us what you REALLY think.

9:02 pm  
Blogger S Johnson said...

Very funny.

Butn, just to be sure you know, it is far wiser to keep all envelopes for correspondence that matters to you in the least. It's one the basic skills for independent living. Much less important, I'd recommend keeping note pads. It's especially easy to accidentally throw away junk mail envelopes, even if they have something written on the back.

10:22 pm  

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