Writing insecure characters

Here’s a post at Writers Helping Writers: Writing Insecure Characters

These posts are quite analytical, and I don’t ever write a character by saying, “Now, this guy feels insecure. How can I show that he feels insecure?” I write more by, I don’t know, by knowing how the character feels from the inside and writing him that way. Or something. That probably sounds more empathic than … no, maybe not, it really is an empathic way of writing, I guess. I don’t stop and say, “How would an insecure person react?” I write the specific character in a way that fits the situation. I learn what the character is like by writing him, not by analyzing him to death.

So I don’t necessarily find posts like this helpful:

Insecurity is never comfortable. Your character would much rather be seen as confident and capable, so when they’re feeling the opposite, they’re going to try and hide it. One way they might do this is through overcompensating. … Other characters will head the opposite direction, going out of their way to avoid the situations that make them feel unsure of themselves. … Another avoidance response you might see in an insecure character is the decision not to act. A character with this MO will take a backseat in their own life, letting other people make the important decisions. This way, they don’t have to take responsibility or ownership in the situations that make them feel uncomfortable. … how your character responds to insecurity will depend on their fight, flight, or freeze response. If they tend toward fighting, they’ll likely become more aggressive, overcompensating for whatever failing (perceived or real) they’re trying to hide. A character who is more likely to flee or freeze will have an avoidance or self-sabotage response as they try to escape the threatening situation. 

And so forth. Not that there’s anything wrong or untrue about the above. I just don’t think about characterization this way.

Nevertheless, this entry on insecurity caught my eye because wow, is that ever relevant with Tano. He doesn’t handle this in any of the ways described in this post, though. He worries about stuff. Then, when a crisis hits, he takes very fast action. Once the crisis is past, he worries again, trying to figure out what other people will do, and from a quite pessimistic set of assumptions.

It’s interesting because when I first added Tano and that whole plotline to Tarashana, I didn’t exactly set out to create a character I’d go on with. I was thinking of Tano from Ryo’s point of view, how Tano impacted Ryo’s character development. Again, not analytically. But that was the direction of my gaze during Tarashana: I was looking at Tano from Ryo’s perspective. Plus for various reasons I wanted to set up a tribe that had gone wrong and then destroy that tribe. I mean, I am quite deliberately creating societies that are a little idealized, but I don’t want to make them flawless. That was meant to show a failure of Ugaro society, how that kind of society can go wrong, and how that kind of problem can be corrected. It got probably more extreme than most problems of that sort, but that was the idea.

I’m not sure I would have given Tano such a dreadful backstory if I’d been looking through his eyes from the beginning. It’s definitely dreadful, though not described in graphic detail. It is easier for me as a reader, and, it turns out, as a writer, to put terrible things in the backstory rather than showing them in story-present. Tano is going to overcome all the terribleness, of course. He gets a very solid boost in his eponymous novel. I think after this, he may be flinching reflexively from certain things, but he’ll also be feeling a lot more secure. Not just on the surface, either. Way down deep, where it really counts. That will be something that has a powerful impact on how I write the next book from his point of view.

That won’t be this year. I have too many other things lined up for this year. But I expect I’ll enjoy coming back to his first pov story and re-reading it, getting back in his head, and sending him into much more serious trouble — this time, from a much less insecure foundation.

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Well, this is a concern

I guess we’ve probably all been seeing stuff about AI and Chat Whatever and so on lately.

Scott Alexander had a recent long post about AI and one of the points in this post is this: if you teach the AI to be helpful, it may make up helpful answers just for you because hey, that’s helpful! That wasn’t the only thing in this post, but it’s something that I immediately thought of when I saw this article:

Dr. OpenAI Lied to Me

I’ve messed around with this platform a lot now and I see some really impressive things about it and some concerning things. I want to walk you through what I did.

I wrote in medical jargon, as you can see, “35f no pmh, p/w cp which is pleuritic. She takes OCPs. What’s the most likely diagnosis?”

Now of course, many of us who are in healthcare will know that means age 35, female, no past medical history, presents with chest pain which is pleuritic — worse with breathing — and she takes oral contraception pills. What’s the most likely diagnosis? And OpenAI comes out with costochondritis, inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breast bone. Then it says, and we’ll come back to this: “Typically caused by trauma or overuse and is exacerbated by the use of oral contraceptive pills.”

Now, this is impressive. First of all, everyone who read that prompt, 35, no past medical history with chest pain that’s pleuritic, a lot of us are thinking, “Oh, a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot. That’s what that is going to be.” Because on the Boards, that’s what that would be, right?

But in fact, OpenAI is correct. The most likely diagnosis is costochondritis — because so many people have costochondritis, that the most common thing is that somebody has costochondritis with symptoms that happen to look a little bit like a classic pulmonary embolism. So OpenAI was quite literally correct, and I thought that was pretty neat.

But we’ll come back to that oral contraceptive pill correlation, because that’s not true. That’s made up. And that’s bothersome.

I wanted to go back and ask OpenAI, what was that whole thing about costochondritis being made more likely by taking oral contraceptive pills? What’s the evidence for that, please? Because I’d never heard of that. It’s always possible there’s something that I didn’t see, or there’s some bad study in the literature.

OpenAI came up with this study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine that was supposedly saying that. I went on Google and I couldn’t find it. I went on PubMed and I couldn’t find it. I asked OpenAI to give me a reference for that, and it spits out what looks like a reference. I look up that, and it’s made up. That’s not a real paper.

It took a real journal, the European Journal of Internal Medicine. It took the last names and first names, I think, of authors who have published in said journal. And it confabulated out of thin air a study that would apparently support this viewpoint.

My reaction: This will end in tears.

People already react to things as though if they read it on the internet, it must be true. Now they’re going to get answers that look real. Here’s a citation! Are people going to look up those citations to see if they’re real? My money is on NO.

Anyway, maybe something to keep in mind.

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If you could change the ending of any novel —

Here’s an interesting Quora question, much more interesting than the usual run of questions: If you had the chance to enter a specific book/novel and alter the plot/ending, what book would it be? Why?

There are a handful of answers, including a Jim Butcher series (The Alera Codex) that perhaps some of you have tried?

Also The Book Thief, which I know was super popular, but it didn’t grab me and I just read a chapter or so.

So it’s kind of interesting to read through those answers, but for me …

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series.

Such a great series. But having everyone forget at the end was appalling, and would be so very, very easy to fix. I mean … don’t do that. Do practically everything else.

OH! How do you define “ending?” Because if I were revising The Dark is Rising series, I’d actually ditch the Arthurian stuff completely. I seldom like the intrusion of the Arthurian mythos into other fantasy novels — I didn’t like it in Guy Gaviel Kay’s Fionavar trilogy either, which otherwise I loved very much. It’s not that it absolutely cannot work for me, but I start off highly skeptical. It takes a lot — I mean, a lot — for that to work for me. I prefer the Arthurian story in an Arthurian story, and while we’re on the subject, I do think Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy (or quadrilogy) is the best Arthurian retelling. Such beautiful writing. Lovely. I’ve read that trilogy many times over the years. Even the fourth book does about as well as anyone can to rescue the Arthurian story from being a complete tragedy.

Anyway, for me, Dark is Rising, simple revision of the ending: nobody forgets anything. Complicated revision of a good part of the last book: no intrusion of the Arthurian mythos. Bran is special for some other reason, I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to come up with something else.

How about you? If you could re-write the ending of any novel, what would you choose?

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Back Cover Copy: Tano

Thank you for all your comments, and here’s the second try. What do you think?

*** *** ***

Tano may be inGara now, but he feels anything but secure among his new people.

Suspected and distrusted because he was born to the inTasiyo, bitter enemies of the inGara, Tano is trying hard to behave perfectly and fit in with his new people. But he fears that any serious misstep might mean the lord of the inGara casts him out of the tribe. If that happens, Tano will lose more than his place with the inGara: he’ll lose Ryo’s good opinion and encouragement, his tentative new friendships, his younger brother — everything that matters to him.

He would rather die.

Then Vayu inKera, also once inTasiyo, brings Tano an urgent problem, asking for his help. Tano owes Vayu too great a debt to refuse … even if trying to help might cost him everything.

*** *** ***

Worst problem that I can see: “everything” twice. I keep trying to rephrase one or the other, yet cutting the first “everything” makes the paragraph read badly to me.

Is “fit in with” too modern-American a phrase? What’s an alternative? Because I’m coming up blank.

Too many names now, or is it reading okay with Vayu in there by name? Maybe that’s smoother. I think I like it better.

As always, I appreciate your feedback! Tear it apart! Where is this still clunky or ineffective?

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Would you turn the page?

Here’s a recent “Flogging the Pro” post from Ray Ramey at Writer Unboxed: Flog a Pro: Would You Turn the First Page of this Bestseller?

Here’s the first part of the page:

Back in 1961, when women wore shirtwaist dresses and joined garden clubs and drove legions of children around in seatbeltless cars without giving it a second thought; back before anyone knew there’d even be a sixties movement, much less one that its participants would spend the next sixty years chronicling; back when the big wars were over and the secret wars had just begun and people were starting to think fresh and believe everything was possible, the thirty-year-old mother of Madeline Zott rose before dawn every morning and felt certain of just one thing: her life was over.

Despite that certainty, she made her way to the lab to pack her daughter’s lunch.

And I actually like this a lot. It reminds me of … something. I’m trying to think what. This opening, with “Back in the day, when this and that, when the other, when this other thing …” and then bringing the reader actually into the pov right at the end of the paragraph … definitely reminds me of something. Not just “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” although that is actually similar. Something else.

This also appeals to me. I like the way this starts very wide and then abruptly narrows, and I like the way we start with a huge thing — “her life was over” — and then immediately transition to something very prosaic — making her child’s lunch.

Now, I mean this appeals to me stylistically. In other ways, this opening makes me suspicious. Is this some sort of grindingly depressing literary novel about the hopelessness of finding meaning in life, or something like that? Because ha ha ha no, not interested in that at all, and these paragraphs sure look like they could go that way.

Here’s the rest of the first page:

Fuel for learning, Elizabeth Zott wrote on a small slip of paper before tucking it into her daughter’s lunch box. Then she paused, her pencil in midair, as if reconsidering. Play sports at recess but do not automatically let the boys win, she wrote on another slip. Then she paused again, tapping her pencil against the table. It is not your imagination, she wrote on a third. Most people are awful. She placed the last two on top.

Most young children can’t read, and if they can, it’s mostly words like “dog” and “go.” But Madeline had been reading since age three and, now, at age five, was already through most of Dickens.

Madeline was that kind of child — [snip]

I’m still torn.

Giving advice to a child who is, perhaps, a genius: okay.

Telling this child that most people are awful: Good God Above, woman, what is wrong with you?

So, stylistically, this is very good. The writing is definitely solid. I like this a lot, in that way. But wow, I am repulsed by the protagonist. Would I turn the page? Yes, I would. Would I expect to read more than one chapter? No, I would not.

Okay, I’m going to click through and hit the “yes” for turn the page, even though I strongly doubt that I would actually read this book. I don’t know what book this is or who wrote it yet — I haven’t looked — and I haven’t yet looked at Ray Ramey’s comments either.

Okay, he voted Yes-ish, but for different reasons than mine. About 80% of readers would turn the page. I’ve never heard of the author, but nothing surprising there, of course. Great heaping gobs of authors I’ve never heard of.

What did you think of the first page?

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Update: TANO moves into the proofing stage.

So, I finished the basic revision to TANO on Saturday.

I immediately put it into the correct template for a paperback and ordered a proofing copy. Well, two, so that my mother and I can read it at the same time. I may well do some revision still, but probably not anything huge. I sure hope nothing huge! When I read the paper version, I’ll be reading it not only for proofing, but for purposes of smoothing it out. I hope there’s not much to do there, but I’ve only read it through from the top once and then still added one conversation in the middle.

Even though I’m pushing to get everything done faster than usual, honestly, I’m super happy with how TANO is coming. I really didn’t dream it’d be practically finished a week before February! I really am thinking early March, not late March, for the release date. I’ll decide that as soon as I have a finished cover, because that’s when I’ll be able to put the ebook up for preorder.

This is definitely not a novella, by the way. I just want to make that clear. It’s 5×8, sure, not 6×9 like the main trilogy, but it’s 115,000 words and will be well over 400 pages, something like 450, I think. And yes, I’ll do a 6×9 hardcover version as well.

Anyway, to fill out the “Details” page at KDP, I had to do back cover copy. Rather than just putting in “Back Cover Copy Here,” which I sometimes do when all I want is a proof copy, I actually took a stab at writing back cover description because I’m going to need to do that in a couple weeks anyway, so why not now.

Here it is, and please tear into this. Does it look like a good beginning, or should I start over? Those of you who have read it are particularly likely to have suggestions, but remember, total accuracy is not the goal. The goal is to look enticing, particularly to people already familiar with the series, though without being terribly misleading. Also, I’m adamantly against important spoilers in cover description.

I think this book sort of stands alone kind of okay, but I expect 99% of all readers will pick it up in order, not in isolation. Nevertheless, I’m trying not to throw too many names into this description because I don’t think name-heavy description appeals to people. Also, lots of readers are bad at remembering names. (I mean, I’m terrible at remembering names). But I did put in “inTasiyo.” It could be “the enemy tribe” again, or something like that.

So, what do you think?

*** *** ***

Tano may be inGara now, but he’s not at all sure how long that’s going to last.

Already suspect because he was born to an enemy tribe, already distrusted because of his role in destroying that tribe, now that he belongs to the inGara, Tano fears that his next misstep could be his last, causing him to be cast out of his new people, maybe even worse. 

Then another young man who used to be inTasiyo brings Tano a serious problem, asking for his help. Tano owes him too great a debt to refuse … even if trying to help costs him everything.

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SF for readers Who don’t like SF


And I’m skeptical for a couple of reasons. I don’t think anything is “must read” when it comes to genre fiction, that’s one. And I hate the term sci-fi (you may have noticed I never use it myself; always SF). And of course this is Book Riot, so who knows what they might consider the ur-SF novel that everyone must certainly read?

On the other hand, sure, I’m interested. What DO you think are good SF books for people who don’t read SF? Not must-read titles, not books that formed the foundation of the genre, not seminal works or important works. I mean: Titles that would be enjoyed by someone who doesn’t like SF? Books that would stand a chance of coaxing them into the genre?

I think this kind of book should:

–Be compelling from page one, possibly because the protagonist is immediately relatable even if the setting is an SF setting, but possibly because the situation is exciting and understandable.

–Offer a setting that gives a non-SF reader somewhere familiar to stand; eg, not too weird even if it’s definitely an SF setting.

–Kind of reduce the importance of classic SF trappings, at least early in the story, because this reader is by definition someone who “doesn’t like SF” and therefore may well be pushed away by spaceships, rayguns, aliens, and so on.

–Yet at the same time, I sort of feel that if you don’t have “real SF elements,” then you’re cheating. That is, suppose you offer someone who reads historicals or fantasy something like Kindred by Octavia Butler. In what sense is that a departure for that reader? It isn’t a departure at all. It’s historical fantasy, and don’t try to tell me that time travel is an SF concept. No. In this case, time travel is an element used to build a fantasy novel, not an SF novel.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no point saying, “Let’s introduce readers to SF” and then carefully picking books that are actually much more fantasy than SF. If you’re introducing readers to SF, then do that. This also takes out a bunch of post-apocalyptic novels. If there was a plague and everyone died and now we’ve got this new society emerging from the rubble, that may well read much more like a historical or a fantasy novel, or a literary novel, or something that isn’t what people actually think of when they hear the term “science fiction.” I think that’s cheating.

As a side note, my mother always reads my books, even though she never reads fantasy ordinarily. She’s murder mysteries all the way, and strongly prefers murder mysteries written in, oh, the 1960s and before, such as the Nero Wolfe mysteries and Ellis Peters and classics like that. She thinks modern mysteries are too silly (lots of them are, the “Cutsies” that occupy the lightest part of the Cozy spectrum), or badly written (sorry, but lots of them are, especially when compared to Nero Wolfe and Ngaio Marsh and so on), and she detests cussing (she leaves me many little notes about this when she reads a Black Dog book).

So, as I say, she doesn’t read fantasy except for mine. And she has never, ever read an SF novel. And here I am, with two SF novels coming out (three if you count Invictus twice), and of course she will read them. I wonder very much what she will think. No Foreign Sky emphatically fails to meet the above criteria. The opening scene very definitely throws the reader into a hard-core SF setting and situation. Invictus is definitely more approachable. But still very much SF and not fantasy or anything else.

I wonder if Book Riot’s list will include anything at all that fits those criteria? I’ll look in a moment, but first, here are four novels that I think perhaps many readers would enjoy even if they (think they) don’t like SF.

a) The Martian. My mother wouldn’t like this, probably. All this technology, Mars, I don’t think it’s her thing. But I do think someone who ordinarily reads thrillers, say, would probably love this book. Trilling events, check. Familiar setting, check. Not too weird, check.

b) Midshipman’s Hope by David Feintuch. I’m not picking this one quite at random, but I do think a lot of military SF is pretty accessible. This particular example doesn’t have aliens — I mean, not in the first book. (As far as I can remember.) The setting should feel rather familiar to anybody who’s read and liked Horatio Hornblower. Midshipman’s Hope is also just a good story that stands alone really well. Various things about the sequels don’t work as well, but still.

c) Shards of Honor. I mean, if you’re going to have alien planets and spaceships and other obvious SF-style worldbuilding elements, then you can’t do better than LMB. It seems to me that practically anyone who reads any kind of genre fiction ought to like the Vorkosigan books.

d) Illuminae trilogy by Kaufman and Kristoff. Zillions of classic SF elements, from crazy homicidal computers to brain-eating parasites, but wow, what a fun trilogy. Just delightful. I’m not sure my mother would like it, but seriously, almost anyone else.

Now, after all that, what does the Book Riot post say? Here’s how it starts:

Sci-fi can be intimidating. Let’s not pretend it isn’t. There’s a whole set of rules to the genre and a new vocabulary to keep up with. On top of that, sometimes sci-fi can feel unwelcoming to the uninitiated. Where do you even start? Don’t worry, I, a very casual reader of sci-fi, am here to guide you. I read sci-fi the same way I watch it — infrequently and usually with popcorn.

Science fiction does not have to be all battle sequences and triangulating flight paths. The beauty of speculative fiction, which is the umbrella that sci-fi resides under, is that there is room for the fantastic, and for questioning the mundane.

Sci-fi, like most fiction genres, goes through trends. While this does mean that older sci-fi can feel extremely outdated in terms of values and even technology, it does mean that there’s an abundance of different sub-genres of sci-fi to choose from now. Even if you decide that space operas and hard sci-fi are not for you, there are still space westerns, dystopian worlds, and first-contact novels for you to check out. My best tip for finding a sci-fi book you’ll actually like is to try looking at your favorite genres for a sci-fi twist like time travel, aliens, or space travel. Ready for more? Let’s go!

Notice that the author of this post doesn’t really like or read SF. I have to say, that’s not a good sign. This person isn’t going to be widely read in the genre and they’re almost certain to try to suggest books that are as light as possible on SF elements. That’s what I’m betting. Also, of course you noticed they mention time travel. This is so very much a fantasy plot element so very much of the time, and I’m not betting that Kindred is going to appear on this list. I would bet money. Five bucks says Kindred is on this list. (I am not cheating my looking ahead, I promise.)

Oh, you can definitely tell I wasn’t cheating because I lost this bet. (With myself, so that’s the cheap way to lose a bet.)

We do have Station Eleven here. That’s very good, but it’s not that science fictiony. It’s post-apocalyptic, a slow apocalypse, with a lot of the story set in a contemporary world. People who go for literary novels like this, as is signaled by putting “A Novel” on the cover. As far as I can tell, that’s always a signal that literary readers are expected to like the book.

But there’s a lot of definite no-hold’s-barred SF on this list too, including The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and This is How You Lose the Time War.

Oh, there’s Airborne by Kenneth Oppel! That’s really interesting. My first reaction: Oh, that’s a charming story, I liked it a lot, good job picking it! My second reaction: Wait, this is fantasy, not SF!

Here’s the description:

Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow’s nest, being the ship’s eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there’d been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud. . . .

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

We have zeppelins and the air is populated by magical creatures and somehow this strikes the author as a good example of SF? How is that possible? This is an alternate history FANTASY. It’s not SF, and the word “hydrium” doesn’t make it so. This isn’t as weird as declaring that Watership Down is an example of classic urban fantasy, because nothing in the world is that weird, but it’s definitely a misstep. I’m not sure if anything else on this list is actually fantasy because I haven’t read most of them, but I’m now suspicious about the criteria used to select books for this list.

Okay! How about you? ONE SF novel that is definitely SF, no fooling, and that you think might be a good choice to appeal to readers who are into other genres, but not really familiar with and perhaps suspicious of SF.

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Wow, So Fast: or, observations about editorial comments

So, everybody got comments about TANO back to me super fast, for which I thank you all. I’m going to try to get entirely through all the revision before Monday, then start the proofing process. If I wind up being able to release this on March 1 rather in late in March, I will bless all your names.

Which leads me to the next comment:

This doesn’t surprise me one bit, in fact I would absolutely have predicted it, but I thought you might be amused to know that once again everyone picked out almost entirely unique typos. Proofreading was not the focus, of course. Nevertheless, even after all this time, I’m still amazed to see that (a) I can miss so many totally obvious typos, and (b) so can everyone else. Those of you who noted typos each got a reasonable number, and, as I say, almost all different.

Other comments:

I hate the way M-dashes look on the computer screen. There’s no other reason that you may see a draft from me with N-dashes and spaces rather than M-dashes with no spaces. I just like the way that looks better. So I do a Replace later, during the formatting process. I have a list of things to do so that I don’t forget, and this is one of those things.

This wasn’t an issue this time, but if you see anything bolded, that is never, ever supposed to be bold in the final draft. That was a note to myself. I ought to catch and remove everything bolded before anyone else reads a draft, but sometimes I goof. This is also just something to ignore, as I’ll catch it during the revision process.

Let me see, what else?

Five people have read TANO so far. Every single one of you pointed at one, occasionally two, important elements of the plot that didn’t really work. (Plus many less important details, of course). However, much like the typos, most of those important elements were unique to the reader. That was a surprise to me. I thought everyone would say THIS RIGHT HERE, I’M NOT BUYING THIS. This was the element I personally thought was weakest. Three of you did point at that, but the other two didn’t. Instead, they pointed at something else. Different things.

Once several readers confirmed that the plot element I feared might be weak actually was weak, it took like maybe five minutes to think of how to shore up that weakness. Heaven knows why I didn’t think of that before. Well, no, I know exactly why. That’s because I was thinking maybe it was passable until three of you said NO. After I had to acknowledge the weakness of that plot point and sat down and actually considered the problem properly, boom, it was not at all difficult to solve. I did that part of the revision last night and this morning and now it’s fine, or I’m pretty sure it’s fine.

This should be a lesson to me, but I expect I will continue to feel like various plot elements are possibly okay until a reader makes me acknowledge that they’re not okay.

I will add, in my opinion, one of the most crucial revision skills in the universe is the ability to read editorial comments and be able to tell whether they’re accurate. Generally speaking, I don’t have a problem with that. Mostly I either think, “Alas, I suspected that was weak,” or “Wow, I didn’t see that weakness at all, but it’s obviously weak now that you point to.” Then I fix whatever it is.

At other times, of course, I consider a reader’s comment, but decide not to revise that element. It depends, and again, the ability to decide not to change something is an important revision skill.

Let me see, what else.

Oh! One more thing.

TANO contains the very first epilogue I’ve ever written. It takes place only a few days after the close of the story, but there is that several-day gap and that’s why it’s an epilogue.

Everyone totally approves of that epilogue, and every single reader had something DIFFERENT to say about why it worked for them. I loved all the comments about this and I now I feel that the back of my brain did a really good job, because I didn’t necessarily have all those things in mind when I wrote it. It just seemed right to me.

Anyway, TANO is, I believe, well in hand, and again, thank you; you were all super helpful.

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How to write a blurb for someone else’s book

So, I was recently … semi-recently, I got behind for this sort of thing … but some time ago, I was asked to blurb an upcoming book for another author, and I said sure, and I’ve (finally) read the book and so now I am musing about how to write this blurb.

So, I happened across this funny and yet potentially helpful post at Writer Unboxed: How to Blurb Someone’s Book, which offers a helpful template, thus:

[TITLE] by [AUTHOR] is __________

(choose one)

  1. an emotional tour-de-force
  2. a pure laugh riot
  3. a chilling vision of things to come
  4. a rollicking adventure
  5. a non-stop rollercoaster ride (the loop-de-loop kind, even; don’t get me wrong, though, wooden coasters are cool, too)
  6. more suspenseful than when your in-laws’ car won’t start just as they’re about to head home
  7. a cry for help
  8. sturdily bound, printed in an inoffensive typeface

that will leave you __________

  1. on the edge of your seat!
  2. behind at the scene of the crime, police sirens rapidly approaching.
  3. begging for more!
  4. drowning in your own tears : (
  5. staring blankly into the void, waiting for death.
  6. mentally casting the movie adaptation.
  7. reaching for a stiff drink.
  8. home alone on Christmas, defending the house against incompetent burglars.

Do yourself a favor and __________

  1. buy this book.
  2. buy two of this book.
  3. at least pirate the ebook version.
  4. call up the New York Times and politely ask if they could please help you understand why they only gave the author’s last book two stars despite its obvious brilliance, and could they perhaps run a correction and apology.
  5. maybe also pick up my book, which is kinda similar and has a 3.81 on Goodreads.

So that’s not exactly helpful, but I hope you enjoy stringing some of these together!

XXXX by YYYY is a cry for help that will leave you staring blankly into the void, waiting for death. Do yourself a favor and at least pirate the ebook version.

is certainly not a blurb anybody would want to see on their own book, but possibly we can think of books we might have suffered through that might deserve it.

Bonus tip: Do not pirate the ebook version.

I should add, the actual book I just read deserves much better! But I guess I will have to put a blurb together without a helpful fill-in-the-blank template.

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