Notes from New Sodom

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

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Euthanise Your Novel: Letters from an Evil Book Doctor #2

And the Tagline Shall Die!


I have to confess that I'm confused by your title page. It's not that the layout is a little off, with what seems to be a series title, "BOOK ONE OF THE CHRONICLES OF THE OBJECTS OF POWER," running along the bottom of the page rather than on the line directly below the title (with the byline subsequently dropped to the line below that.) It's non-standard, this apparent emulation of a book jacket layout, but we're not so dim we can't tell a series title when we see one. And otherwise, with the word count and contact details in the bottom left corner, it's all quite conventional. The thing is though, we don't have a clue what the fuck the rest of what's on the page is meant to be.

Given the colon after the (apparent) title -- "THE MCGUFFIN DEVICE:" -- one might parse what follows -- "TOKENS OF PLOT" -- as a series title were it not for that obvious series title at the bottom of the page. With the latter evident, it's quite unclear how we're meant to parse this superfluous rubric. Are these both series titles? Did you love both of your little darlings just so much you couldn't bear to leave one out? Did you just forget you'd already given the series a title? Did your goldfish attention span fail you just an instant later again when you added yet another title (or whatever the fuck it's meant to be) on the line below: ATTACK OF THE GENRE CLICHÉ?

It's also quite unclear what's intended by the line following that. In an incomprehensible language. Maybe it's an epigraph, maybe not. If it is, one would rather expect it to be given with its attribution, on the following page--a distinct epigraph page, a convention you should be familiar with if you've ever actually read a book with an epigraph (assuming you've ever actually read a book.) But no, here it is. A translation might be nice, for those of us not fluent in gibberish. What would be nicer still is a simple basic title page that isn't trying to do its job while miming other meanings as bafflingly as an amputee with Parkinson's playing Charades.

But it doesn't stop there. Oh, no. In an endeavour to fill every inch of the title page, it seems, we also have what appears to be a tagline escaped from the movie poster you're imagining will someday adorn bus stops and billboards when your work of genius is inevitably adapted for the silver screen as a vehicle for the action hero charisma of Shia Lebouf. Or something. Perhaps this is a catchy hookline in the novel itself, one you're particularly fond of. Perhaps it's invented solely for the purposes of being rumbled in the deep bass of a Hollywood trailer voiceover. Sadly, if it's the latter, since your book is not a fucking movie, what I hear in my head when I read this tagline is not the resonant gravitas of James Earl Jones, simply the shrill scream of aforesaid tagline as I slash it to fucking death with my Red Pen of Wrath.

"AND ONE SHALL DIE...!" you say. Let it please be the tagline, I say. Until then, I return your novelisation of your imaginary movie unread. Movie novelisations are not our forté--ones for non-existent movies even less so.

Hugz and kittehz,

Doktor Hal



Anonymous Paul F Cockburn said...

There's definitely a book in these.


4:05 pm  

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