In Praise of Extraneous Detail

There is a difference between a short
Story and a novel beyond merely
Length. Whilst Polonius said “Brevity
Is the soul of wit” Hamlet’s author sought
Laughs contrasting this sagacious effort
With extraordinary prolixity.
It isn’t boring that the irony
Requires his speeches be so finely wrought.
The short story is of necessity
Spare, no time, space or scope for digression
It can read like an excerpt from something
Longer. But novels want no such paucity.
They need to fulfill our expectation
That i’s are dotted and all t’s crossing!

Revenge is a dish … or a warship?

There’s definitely a lot of authorial self-doubt about, evidenced by the way five star reviews are triumphantly trumpeted whilst one star trolling prompts hand-wringing and wails.

A few months ago I reviewed a thriller, The Source by Zach Abrams. It is a well-written lighthearted romp with occasional depths, and I enjoyed it very much. O.K., the plot may creak a bit in places, but so does ‘Othello’. I’m a generous reviewer (There But For The Grace Of God Walk I), and I gave it five stars. When I was posting my review, I had a look at the one star review for the same work, by an Amazon Top 1,000 Reviewer, no less. This was not your average trolling one-line ‘It stinks’ effort, but several detailed paragraphs. The reviewer had clearly read the book, described bits of it, and then written ‘it stinks’ after each snippet.

My conclusion; the author had majorly pissed off someone who then decided that this was the best way to put the boot in. After all, both Shelley and Byron thought Keats expired in reaction to an unfavourable review of Endymion in the Quarterly Review. Fortunately the author concerned is made of sterner stuff.

Roll up, roll up – Insensitive Editing Service!

Gratuitous Sex

This YA story gave ‘Sensitivity Reading’ a boost. Having baddies with dark skins raised a storm of protest.

On the basis that no publicity is bad publicity, the insensitive version generated masses of visibility. I am therefore launching an Insensitivity Editing Service. For £500 I will take your manuscript and litter it with casual racism, misogyny, gratuitous pornography and acrostics claiming that sex with vacuum cleaners sucks.

Introducing Robo-review

Public Service Announcement
It is a truth universally acknowledged that published writers crave readers, and it is almost as widely accepted that four and five star book reviews aid their acquisition. Whilst it is customary for reviewers to be drawn from the ranks of previous readers, this imposes an artificial and wholly unnecessary constraint on review production. For example, when my seminal work, The Spirit Of The Age was first published, it had but a single review on-line, and I’d written it myself (with Goodreads’ blessing, I should add. I registered the book and it insisted I reviewed it).

Elsewhere on the Internet plagiarism has been re-branded as ‘Mash-up’ and the voice of experience is under attack e.g. Michael Gove’s “The British People have had enough of experts”, the climate-change deniers and the credence given by many to ‘anti-vaxxers’. Why should literary reviews be any different? Thus I offer the following ‘fill-in the blanks’ generic 5 star review as a public service to writers, independent or otherwise, everywhere. Wannabe reviewers, disseminate it further as your own work with my blessing!

A New Star Has Risen In The Firmament – 5 out of 5 stars

(Choose author, e.g. David Melville Edwards (first,latest) novel (insert name of novel and link to buy here) takes the (choose most appropriate genre based on jacket blurb, e.g. fish out of water, urban fantasy, magical realism, gritty police procedural, paranormal romance, comedy of manners, erotic romance) genre and turns it on its head. Likeable characters, taut writing and tight plotting kept me turning pages, living vicariously through their triumphs and disasters. I laughed out loud at some of their antics and the scenarios, then I cried when (tragedy struck, or choose an invented scenario using character names from the jacket blurb; remember, neither you nor the future reader have yet read the book). Make no mistake, this book has an edge.

I loved (delete according to taste: Harry Potter, Twilight Saga, Peter Grant, Cancer Ward, War and Peace) and feel sure that this book will appeal to other fans. Highly recommended!