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I wish authors will learn to write a good story description

Ernest Bywater

A story description, or blurb as I like to call it, is supposed to give a potential reader enough about the story to get them interested in reading it. Way too often we see weird things like the tale of woe the author had in writing the story or information about anything except the story. I just saw one that says only: Story for all ages it's such an entertaining description I doubt I'll ever read the story or anything by that author.

madnige

@Ernest Bywater

I just saw one that says only: Story for all ages


I saw that too, I thought 'It's short, it won't take long'. Wasn't too bad, I thought - not really my cup of tea though. That description isn't as bad as his next which tells you absolutely nothing you can't see from the rest of the story entry, unlike the one under discussion which at least conveys a tad of information.

I agree the blurb is an important aid in the reading decision, and I too wish more authors would take care with them. A reasonable blurb can influence for or against (useful to avoid downvotes by people who unexpectedly hit one of their squicks) whereas a poor one would either push them away, or court downvotes by disappointed readers.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Wheezer
Updated:

I love the ones where the description is incredibly involved. Reading it, you think it must surely be a huge epic tome several hundred pages in length. It would have to be to encompass all the action and plot described... then you glance down and realize the entire story is only 20-25 kb in size! :D

ustourist

I also find that blatant spelling or grammatical errors in a story description will put me off reading it. Some I can gloss over, the same as I would when reading the story, but others are so disjointed as to create a negative response before I even get that far.

Replies:   Wheezer  Crumbly Writer
Wheezer

@ustourist

Spelling & grammar errors in the description put me off too. Also, including nearly every tag available just about guarantees I won't go near it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
waynegibbous

I think a number of authors type in the description live instead of composing and editing it offline then copying it into the Description field. The key to a good description is to compose it just like you do your story then paste it in after it's polished.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Wheezer

Spelling & grammar errors in the description put me off too. Also, including nearly every tag available just about guarantees I won't go near it.

I've discovered that it's difficult to get editors/proofers to take story descriptions seriously. They'll skim it, then dive right into the story, meaning they end up being entirely the work of the author with few (if any) corrections.

However, the Blurb is still the best sales for a story. If an author can't write clean copy in the description, his story won't be any better! At least "Story for all ages" informs readers it won't be difficult to read. 'D

Never in the annals of human history was so much confusion and argument created by a single person for such a misguided and arrogant reason as was done by Noah Webster. I hate him most days.

.
If you publish much, you'll learn that each site has different size restrictions in the story description, so often, they are composed on the fly, as the author removes individual words/phrases at a time.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

I just came across another story description that ensures I won't be reading the story. It reads:

Another story set in post-World War Two Britain. One man's journey from the Highlands of Scotland to...well, you'll just have to read it to find out!

Nothing there to help me decide if it would be interesting or not.

Replies:   sunkuwan  Keet
sunkuwan

@Ernest Bywater

Yup, I hate those nonsensical or nondescriptive summaries. Especially if the story is long.

Like a 2.300 KB story with the description: "A story about finding love. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy's partner, etc. It's good fiction."

I mean, that could be the description of 90% of CoA stories.

or this 1.000 KB story: "This is the first Volume of the Eric Olafson Saga (Volume 1 GC 27)"

Replies:   Keet  samuelmichaels
Keet

@Ernest Bywater

It seems a lot of authors don't realize (or care) how important the description is for readers to decide if they want to read it. The sad thing is that there are some really good stories that don't get the attention they need just because the description is horrible.

tendertouch

Agreed. The description/blurb is the second thing I'll see after the title. If it doesn't grab me then that's as far as I'll go. If it's illegible I probably won't read any further. If it displays common grammatical errors I probably won't go further. And, one of my pet peeves, if it says 'codes withheld' I stop reading right there.

Keet

@sunkuwan

or this 1.000 KB story: "This is the first Volume of the Eric Olafson Saga (Volume 1 GC 27)"

I wondered about that one too until I found that "GC 27" meant it's the 27th story in a series that is not fully posted here on SOL. That would indicate that readers who follow the series understand the description and know the general value of the stories. The problem is that such a description doesn't attract new readers. It has a very high score so maybe new readers see that and decide to read it.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I've discovered that it's difficult to get editors/proofers to take story descriptions seriously.

Not all editors. I insist on being given the description when editing any new story.

I'm very reluctant to toss out any section in the body of a story and start again. With the description and the title, I feel at liberty to do so.

samuelmichaels

@sunkuwan

Yup, I hate those nonsensical or nondescriptive summaries. Especially if the story is long.

Like a 2.300 KB story with the description: "A story about finding love. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy's partner, etc. It's good fiction."

I mean, that could be the description of 90% of CoA stories.

or this 1.000 KB story: "This is the first Volume of the Eric Olafson Saga (Volume 1 GC 27)"


Both of these are worthy stories. While I agree that better blurbs would be very welcome, I learned that sometimes I have to get over my irritation over the blurb and try the story. Especially if it has a high score.

Despite all the limitations, the scores on SOL have better predictive value than on just about any other site.

How about instead of showing the bad blurbs, we post examples of what we think are exemplars?

How about this:
"If this is what happens when you go freelance, makes you rather want to free the lance yourself, eh?"

Or, "In the winter a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of sledding. And why not? Nothing better than a good sledding buddy."

anim8ed

The rule of thumb I received on blurbs was:

Introduce the main character

Introduce the main conflict

Leave them with a question, either a literal question or an implied one, that leaves them curious about the story

I agree that a poorly worded and edited description will tend to discourage me from reading the story.

Ross at Play

@anim8ed

Introduce the main character

Introduce the main conflict

Leave them with a question, either a literal question or an implied one, that leaves them curious about the story

Thanks for that. I kinda knew that's what they should be but didn't know it could be stated so elegantly.

Switch Blayde

@anim8ed

Introduce the main conflict


And what the MC has to lose if he's not successful. Basically what's at stake.

helmut_meukel

@Keet

or this 1.000 KB story: "This is the first Volume of the Eric Olafson Saga (Volume 1 GC 27)"


I wondered about that one too until I found that "GC 27" meant it's the 27th story in a series that is not fully posted here on SOL.


And I wondered if it's enough 'stand-alone' to start reading or which and how many of the other 26 stories I should read first? And because they were not all here on SOL where to get them?
So finally I decided to not bother with the story.
I just checked my ebook reader, there are 971 books on it and I've read only about 500, so chances are high I'll never come back to read any book of this 'GC 27' series.

HM.

BTW, this high number of unread books is because I buy Baen's Monthly Bundle (usually 6 books) and there are always some books I'm not interested in. (It's still cheaper to by the bundle).

Replies:   Keet  anim8ed  REP
Keet

@helmut_meukel

And I wondered if it's enough 'stand-alone' to start reading or which and how many of the other 26 stories I should read first? And because they were not all here on SOL where to get them?
So finally I decided to not bother with the story.

I have exactly the same problem. I have downloaded the book and some others of the same author but didn't read it yet. I would like to see the whole series before I start reading but as long as there's many other books I haven't read these are way behind in the queue and probably will remain so.

anim8ed

@helmut_meukel

The Eric Olafson books are a fairly stand alone series within the Galactic Chronicles universe. They do share some characters and reference earlier books but do not require you to read the earlier books to enjoy Eric's story. On the other hand they are unedited and that could be a bother to some. I often use the term speed bumps for those things that interrupt the flow of the story. The Olafson series is more of an off-road adventure than a few minor speed bumps.

red61544

I pay a lot of attention to those blurbs! Spelling and grammar in the blurb can prevent me from reading the story. There are two extremes - the blurb that says nothing, and the blurb that is longer than the story (I ran across one that indicated that the story was 5kb but the blurb had to have been longer than that!) I know some new authors on SOL don't realize how important that blurb is, but it's what entices many of us to either read or ignore the story.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Hear hear! And I'm one of the biggest sinners.

I hope to move to the dark side eventually and publish stories as e-books, whereupon I'll have to overcome the engrained British reluctance for self-promotion.

At the moment, most of my story descriptions would probably be improved by replacing them with 'Dumb Shit!'

AJ

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Is there a typo in your last post? Was the word 'story' meant to be 'author'? :-)

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I hope to move to the dark side eventually and publish stories as e-books, whereupon I'll have to overcome the engrained British reluctance for self-promotion.


The story description, or blurb as some call it, doesn't have to be self-promotion, but it does have to be an interesting statement about the story to encourage people to read it.

I'm not perfect at it, but here's some examples of mine:

Always a Marine: What does an old man do when confronted with a danger? He remembers what he is, he remembers his oath to "fight all enemies, foreign and domestic." The story title says it all.

Shukra War: U MAMA want a base close to Berant, what better than to take control of the neighbour, Shukra, so they buy the leading generals and stage a revolution. But will it work?

Boone - The Early Years: A fire destroys a farm in Virginia, so the family is moving west. Except the youngest is too ill to travel when it's time to leave. The boy and his grandmother stay behind to follow later. It takes so long for him to recover the two don't go west, and find local employment. A decade later rising political problems cause the young man and his grandmother to make a decision about their future. They'll go west, but it isn't that simple, or an easy journey. Written in US English - 72,700 words.

The Contagion: A deadly virus sweeps the world bringing dead back to life. A Think Tank Group is at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex when the alert is issued. Its senior members join in a conference with the Commander of the United States Northern Command who relays their orders from the Pentagon. Maximilian 'Mad Max' Milton, the 2nd in-charge of the Think Tank gives reason to his nickname, and the war is on with those afflicted with The Contagion. Will they win the war, can they win the war? 11,400 words.

I try to put enough in to give the reader sufficient to know if they may find it interesting while also avoiding too many spoilers. - - Well, I try to.

REP

@helmut_meukel

So finally I decided to not bother with the story.


I was reading the series before Vanessa removed it from SOL's website, so she could sell the story commercially. I understand that she went with a company that supports writers who want to self publish. Back then, I hadn't started writing and grammatical errors in a story weren't a big deal. Today, the same errors stand out like red flags and bother me.

When Vanessa started posting the stories I had read previously, I noticed the grammatical errors. It astounded me that an author took a story containing grammatical errors and tried to sell the story commercially without having its errors fixed.

Now she is posting the same stories that I previously read and it still contains numerous errors. I quit reading the stories she is now posting for that reason.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@madnige


I agree the blurb is an important aid in the reading decision, and I too wish more authors would take care with them. A reasonable blurb can influence for or against (useful to avoid downvotes by people who unexpectedly hit one of their squicks) whereas a poor one would either push them away, or court downvotes by disappointed readers.


The story description (or 'blurb' as that's what it's called when it's printed on the back of paperbacks or the inside of hardbound books) is the most important paragraph in the entire story, as it determines whether anyone even considers reading it.

There have been millions of words wasted over the first sentence of books, but that was from when readers could only access books through book stores, and they rarely looked at anything besides the first page. Nowadays, with many books using Amazon's 'random page' free reads, it's utterly useless. (Hint: I've never judged a book by it's first page, but by the whether an isolated sentence, chosen at random, can hold my interest (something new modern novels are capable of achieving).

If an author invests ANY time of editing their work, they should spend considerable time perfecting their story description, rather than constantly revising the final chapter, which is typically read by the fewest people (although bad endings typically sour many on many well-known authors).

Note: Sorry, but my cookies expired, so this entire thread appeared as 'unread'. I'd already addressed many of these issues long ago. :(

Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

I also find that blatant spelling or grammatical errors in a story description will put me off reading it. Some I can gloss over, the same as I would when reading the story, but others are so disjointed as to create a negative response before I even get that far.

Again, if the description is the MOST essential paragraph in the entire story, then the fact the author couldn't even be bothered checking it for errors is a clear sign they're not worried about blatant mistake in the least.

I see those a big-red flags, warning you about just how bad the rest of the story likely is.

Crumbly Writer

@waynegibbous

I think a number of authors type in the description live instead of composing and editing it offline then copying it into the Description field. The key to a good description is to compose it just like you do your story then paste it in after it's polished.

One problem, is that there is not a common industry standard. Each site (Amazon, SW, SOL) has a different maximum number of characters, and so an author typically had to make dramatic last-minute changes to their previously well-edited descriptions.

In this, SOL is actually the least useful, as I typically have to chop out whole chunks of my shortest, already overly concise descriptions.

Luckily, I know enough to plan in advance for those restrictions now.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I hope to move to the dark side eventually and publish stories as e-books, whereupon I'll have to overcome the engrained British reluctance for self-promotion.

At the moment, most of my story descriptions would probably be improved by replacing them with 'Dumb Shit!'

If you stick with anim8ed's short list of necessary blurb details, you can overcome your self-promotion quibbles. Simply approach it as listing the essential details, boiled down so the irrelevant details are forgotten. Then it's no longer 'self promotion', instead it's your 'ten-second elevator' promotion (i.e. what you'd tell someone if you only have a few seconds to sell the entire project to them).

Keet

@REP

Now she is posting the same stories that I previously read and it still contains numerous errors. I quit reading the stories she is now posting for that reason.

I stopped reading a story from Finestories because it had literally hundreds of wrongly capitalized words in the middle of sentences and at the same tame a lot of sentences that didn't start with a capitalized letter. It began to feel like there was some replace-all gone wrong. For example the word "My" in the middle of a sentence occurred 23 times in a single chapter. Too bad because it was a good story but all those weird capitalizations took all the fun out of it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

Since we're now listing some successful story descriptions, here are some of mine:

A House in Disarray: Detective Emma Rules investigates her boss, the NYPD Police Commissioner, even as her own life is thrown into disarray by the arrival of her sister-in-law and niece.

Zombie Leza: A woman shows up a decade after the zombie apocalypse began who lives, communicates with and controls thousands of the undead. Whether she's mankind's last best hope or the source of their demise is anyone's guess.

Singularity: An experimental interstellar space voyage goes horribly wrong and the unlucky test pilot who died ends up back home, unhurt. He battles through internal, personal and Congressional investigations as he struggles to perceive exactly what he's become.

The Demons Within: When Phil Walker starts seeing the demons within, the world of those afflicted with mental illnesses radically changes, dragging Phil, the medical establishment, and everyone else along as he combats demons, dragons and fairies.

Although I favor incredibly complex stories, with lots of subplots and complicated scenarios, these each list who the character is, what the central conflict is, and how it impacts the characters.

Note: There blurbs are what I put on my "Other Books by the Author" page, so they're even shorter than my shortest description, and rather than writing them once and forgetting them, I typically revise these with each new book I release, just to ensure they'll engage with readers and interest them in my older stories.

Update: After I posted these, both Ross and I noticed several minor issues, so I've updated the most recent, corrected versions.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I see those a big-red flags, warning you about just how bad the rest of the story likely is.


But many authors who use editors to clean up mistakes in their stories also write the blurb unedited. So if the editors do a thorough job, the stories might be readable.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

But many authors who use editors to clean up mistakes in their stories also write the blurb unedited. So if the editors do a thorough job, the stories might be readable.

Good point, and one I raised earlier, but it doesn't really matter. If the blurb isn't clean, it unduly reflects on the author, not the editors.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

If the blurb isn't clean, it unduly reflects on the author, not the editors.

WHOA there! I think it does reflect badly on the editor. I would not authorise an author to mention my name as an editor if I had not been given the description to review too.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

WHOA there! I think it does reflect badly on the editor. I would not authorise an author to mention my name as an editor if I had not been given the description to review too.

Sorry. You're right, everything an editor does reflects on their work. I merely meant that readers don't typically blame editors for error plagued descriptions, while the author is the one most hurt by the oversight.

Switch Blayde

@REP

Back then, I hadn't started writing and grammatical errors in a story weren't a big deal. Today, the same errors stand out like red flags and bother me.


That's me with POV errors. I can't help it. My wife says to just enjoy the story, but they pop out at me and it bothers me.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@REP

It astounded me that an author took a story containing grammatical errors and tried to sell the story commercially without having its errors fixed.


That's one of the major things that gave self-publishing a bad name.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Keet

I stopped reading a story from Finestories because it had literally hundreds of wrongly capitalized words in the middle of sentences


Maybe the author was German. I believe you capitalize all nouns in German.

Replies:   Keet  Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

That's one of the major things that gave self-publishing a bad name.

Though they (self-publishers) are slowly turning that around, that's why charging more than others actually leads to increased sales. Rather than an author publicly declaring "I offer the cheapest, crappiest stories imaginable," you're declaring "These aren't typical of most self-published stories, but reflect my personal professionalism."

You wouldn't think anyone would notice (and the general public doesn't), but those who see the difference in the stories sure do, and they keep coming back to the more expensive books, despite plenty of cheap or free alternatives.

P.S. Ernest, despite by criticizing sales on lulu for years, in the space of two weeks (three separate sales), that's all changed as a couple new readers tried my latest, and subsequently bought ALL the rest, making lulu competitive with the other outlets.

The quality of one's work speaks for itself, and while the occasional typo does hurt, an author's willingness to address those flaws also speaks loudly to readers.

Uther_Pendragon

@Ernest Bywater

Guilty as charged.

Partly, it's that my early stories had blurbs written on-line. Partly it's that I don't start the blurb before I'm done with the story. Partly it's because I DON'T want you to know the full story at the beginning.

Keet

@Switch Blayde

Maybe the author was German. I believe you capitalize all nouns in German.

Definitely not German, the capitalization was totally random and mostly not the words that would have been capitalized in the German language. I'm Dutch, next door neighbor to Germany and had German in school so I would have recognized that easily.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

That's me with POV errors. I can't help it. My wife says to just enjoy the story, but they pop out at me and it bothers me.

The curse of knowledge! :(

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I believe you capitalize all nouns in German.

Keep up, SB. Our German regulars are robberhands and Helmut. Keet is Dutch.

And yes, all nouns are capitalised in German.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I believe you capitalize all nouns in German.

Keep up, SB. Our German regulars are robberhands and Helmut.


You haven't quite got the hang of the general 'you', have you!

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

You haven't quite got the hang of the general 'you', have you!

Ha! Ha! I would not use the "people in general" meaning of 'you' to accuse non-Germans of writing in German.

Si, if it's not a grammatical error, it's an even worse social foe par.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Si, if it's not a grammatical error, it's an even worse social foe par.


I think

I believe all nouns are capitalized in German

and

I believe you capitalize all nouns in German

mean the same.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I think ... and ... mean the same.

The literal meaning of both is certainly the same.

sunkuwan

One other thing I found out here, while looking at all the Lost story threads, the description of the user who is looking for the story is sometimes miles better in getting me interested in the story than the blurb from the author.

Even if it is a little spoilery.

Especially very long stories have an issue with accurately portraying what the whole story is about.
I don't care what happens or what mystery or what love story happens in the first 50k words/ few chapters if it is only 10% or less of the whole story.

Some blurbs describe a very specific thing and I think: "Does the Author stretch this plot out over the whole freaking epic-length story?"

Some stories can get away with it, others not.
A do-over for example doesn't really need it, the readers know what to expect basically.
But a Sci-Fi or Fantasy story should do better.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
madnige

@Ross at Play

an even worse social foe par


Nearly as bad a faux pas as mis-spelling the adopted-from-french phrase meaning misstep .

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I would not use the "people in general" meaning of 'you' to accuse non-Germans of writing in German.


Have I missed something? Has the nationality of the Finestories story been uncovered, proving that he/she/it is not German?

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@madnige

Nearly as bad a faux pas as mis-spelling the adopted-from-french phrase meaning misstep .

Do you really think I did not know 'foe par' was incorrect? You Americans really don't get the "Spot the Intentional Error" style of humour, do you?

My post had included '... accuse non-Germans of writing in German'. My joke was don't accuse me of writing in French either ... and that I was making a faux pas myself by mis-spelling it.

Replies:   madnige
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Have I missed something? Has the nationality of the Finestories story been uncovered, proving that he/she/it is not German?

I'd say you're missing something now. This suggests you're now saying the original use of 'you' was not the "people in general" meaning.

I have had enough of this exchange.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@madnige

Nearly as bad a faux pas as misspelling the adopted-from-french phrase meaning misstep .

The foe par faux pas was a reflection/reference to one's foes better golf performance.

Hey, I tried, but you really can't put much lipstick on this particular pig. 'D

Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

Especially very long stories have an issue with accurately portraying what the whole story is about.


The blurb isn't supposed to tell what the whole story is about. A synopsis does that, along with the ending and spoilers. The blurb's only purpose is to get the potential reader to read/buy the story/novel.

This is the blurb from my novel Sexual Awakening:

A product of her upbringing, Elizabeth Hathaway was taught that sex is a sin to enjoy—beliefs reinforced by her husband, Pastor Milford Hathaway. When she strays into the world of pornography, Jeff Wateman learns of her dark secret. He's back in town seeking revenge on Pastor Hathaway and plans to use her to disgrace her husband before killing him. Elizabeth is nothing more than collateral damage, until Jeff falls in love with her.


The novel has two sub-plots that come together in the end. The blurb only mentions one of them. There's another main character, a cop who is killing people for revenge. Nothing in the blurb mentions him or that sub-plot.

Replies:   sunkuwan  Crumbly Writer
sunkuwan

@Switch Blayde

but that's the issue. What should and shouldn't be in a blurb depends on the size of the Story.

A blurb that is okay for a novel-length story could be massively inadequate if the story is 10 times as big. You would then look at it and think "how does the author stretch this story over xxxxxKB or xxxxWords?"

Sometimes it doesn't matter because the Genre will set your expectations and a blurb would set the overall plot and the Genre would drive it along.

But think about Mystery novels for example. If I see a 5x or 10x as long as a normal novel story and the blurb only mentions the starting case without any overarching theme or mystery, I would not bother because I would think that it is a story that takes too long. Nothing is more grating than a baddie that gets introduced early and only gets defeated in the last part. Fine for Novel-length stories, inadequate for epic-length.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Keet wrote:

I stopped reading a story from Finestories because it had literally hundreds of wrongly capitalized words in the middle of sentences


Switch Blayde replied:

Maybe the author was German. I believe you capitalize all nouns in German.


Perhaps you would have understood correctly if Switch had written:

I believe one capitalizes all nouns in German.


AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

Fine for Novel-length stories, inadequate for epic-length


My guess is the author of an epic-length story on SOL has no idea where it's going to go when he writes the description.

But I still disagree with your premise. The only purpose for a blurb is to pique the reader's interest/curiosity. The reader shouldn't worry that the story is too long based on the description. Now if you're reading a long story and it gets boring, simply stop reading it. I don't think I ever finished a long story on SOL and, because of that, I don't bother starting any nowadays.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Perhaps you would have understood correctly if Switch had written:

I believe one capitalizes all nouns in German.

Yeah. I'd have got that straight away. I think I had a case of temporary ambiguity which became entrenched. The first time I saw 'you' I interpreted it with the primary meaning. That led to me mis-thinking SB thought Keet was German. I know that the Dutch do not like that! I didn't go back to confirm the literal meaning before flying off the handle.

Replies:   Keet
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

But I still disagree with your premise. The only purpose for a blurb is to pique the reader's interest/curiosity.

I agree with you on that one.

I thought CW's examples above showed that well. They didn't describe the story; they posed the question which would be answered when readers read the story.

sunkuwan

@Switch Blayde

But I still disagree with your premise. The only purpose for a blurb is to pique the reader's interest/curiosity.


Sorry, but hundreds and thousands of stories vie for my interest. I don't have time for generic piquing bullshit.
I want to know what exactly in the Author's story makes it worth my time and not the same blurb with different names and locations.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Keet

@Ross at Play

That led to me mis-thinking SB thought Keet was German. I know that the Dutch do not like that!

That's history and maybe some Dutch still don't like the Germans but probably for other reasons like footbal (soccer) :D
I have nothing against Germans and don't care about footbal. The German language is sometimes difficult in pronunciation and it has some horribly difficult grammar rules but the people are just the same as we all are. Well, Germans are maybe a little more strict and formal, which doesn't always have to be a bad thing ;)

madnige

@Ross at Play

don't get the "Spot the Intentional Error" style of humour


... like Spike Milligna, the famous typnig error? The only clue I can see hinting at this is the leading 'Si', which I took for a fumble-fingered 'So' since I and O are adjacent on most keyboards.

You Americans


That, sir, is an unforgivable insult to me, a person of robust Anglo-Saxon descent seasoned with some Hollander blood.
OK, I'll forgive you this once.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@madnige

a person of robust Anglo-Saxon descent seasoned with some Hollander blood.

Si, you're saying your a typical British mongrel? OK, 'You Americans' would be insulting. I apologise and won't make that mistake again.

@Ross at Play
don't get the "Spot the Intentional Error" style of humour
@madnige
The only clue I can see hinting at this is the leading 'Si'

Here is the obvious clue you missed: 'foe par' is a 'faux pas'!

Apparently, you thought you were being original and clever in pointing that out to me. The fact is that was the precise joke I had just made, which went right over your head. I don't care whether you believe that or not.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@sunkuwan

Fine for Novel-length stories, inadequate for epic-length.


That depends on what you call an epic length story! Are you talking of over 100K words, over 200K words or over 500K words?

I think you can still write a good story description for any length of story, it's just some need a bit more thought than others. The sad part is many authors don't give them any thought at all.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
samuelmichaels

@Crumbly Writer

In this, SOL is actually the least useful, as I typically have to chop out whole chunks of my shortest, already overly concise descriptions.


Lit is far worse.

PotomacBob

@samuelmichaels

What is the limit for descriptions on SOL?

Replies:   samuelmichaels
samuelmichaels

@PotomacBob

What is the limit for descriptions on SOL?


I think it's 500 characters.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The blurb isn't supposed to tell what the whole story is about. A synopsis does that, along with the ending and spoilers. The blurb's only purpose is to get the potential reader to read/buy the story/novel.

You find something similar with covers. Readers frequently complain that the cover 'isn't true to the story'. While I've always tried to keep my covers realistic (often, the available stock art puts a serious crimp in that), the cover, just like the description, are merely intended to get the reader interested in the story, not provide a blow-by-blow summary of the story.

If both the description and the cover convey the primary story conflicts and their impact on the protagonist, they've succeeded (providing they're captivating, that is!) You just can't save a bad story.

Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

But think about Mystery novels for example. If I see a 5x or 10x as long as a normal novel story and the blurb only mentions the starting case without any overarching theme or mystery, I would not bother because I would think that it is a story that takes too long. Nothing is more grating than a baddie that gets introduced early and only gets defeated in the last part. Fine for Novel-length stories, inadequate for epic-length.

And that's the heart of the issue. Any story should have a simple, clear-cut ongoing conflict. In novels it's easy, if the main conflict in a given book is wrapped up, but the overall conflict remains, you simply finish that book off and start another.

But for epics or the proverbial 100+ chapter series, hopefully there's more to the story than 'the character has sex with a TON of beautiful airheads!'. If you can't sum up the primary conflict driving the story, then you've failed writing 101, as you're just spinning your wheels and not writing to a purpose.

By the way, there is no special description word cap for ongoing serials!

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

My guess is the author of an epic-length story on SOL has no idea where it's going to go when he writes the description.

Another reason why I keep revising my description, both as I'm writing the story, and even years after the story's been published.

But I also use the story description as a handy reminder, reinforcing what's the vital story element. If a subplot doesn't fit into the main themes established in the description, it generally means it's not essential and can be cut (exceptions for the normal character development, which is vital to the overall plot).

The problem is, few ongoing series ever go back and prune, trim or revise their earlier chapters. Whatever crap they introduced, and then later abandoned, remains embedded in their stories forever. While we generally accept that premise, it doesn't make the stories any better.

Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

Sorry, but hundreds and thousands of stories vie for my interest. I don't have time for generic piquing bullshit.
I want to know what exactly in the Author's story makes it worth my time and not the same blurb with different names and locations.

Believe me, every author understands that. But the description is the story boiled down to it's bare essentials, and that doesn't include what's revealed later in the story. So rather than focusing on 'what happens' in the story, it's always best to focus on the essential conflict which drives the story, as that's what readers are actually interested in, not whether Bob's wife is cheating on him in chapter 12 or not.

A good blurb focuses on what's the vital element of the story, and it pulls the reader in not because of plot trivia, but because the protagonist's travails speak to the reader, and he can relate to the story, wherever it might go (within reason, of course, and no one likes unexpected squicks!).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Apparently, you thought you were being original and clever in pointing that out to me. The fact is that was the precise joke I had just made, which went right over your head. I don't care whether you believe that or not.

As always, when a comedian tells a joke and the entire audience actively boos, it doesn't pay to insist the audience just 'doesn't get my joke'. The point is, your delivery is all wrong! You keep insisting that few get your subtle Aussie humor, but after a certain point, you've got to ask yourself, does anyone?

Sometimes, when sometime keeps falling flat, it's best to try rephrasing it to see whether it works better with a different presentation.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The sad part is many authors don't give them any thought at all.

That's the entire discussion. If your story description is what attracts readers to your story, and is thus the most vital single paragraph in the entire epic, then it's worth spending a little longer getting it right!

Simply throwing in a 'It's a story. You might like it or not" just doesn't cut it!

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@samuelmichaels

Lit is far worse.

Yeah, sadly that's assumed.

But basically I have several story descriptions:

The long form: useful when the reader has already seen the short description (often when they first saw the link) and wants a little more detail).

The short version: what someone see when they first glance at the story, and ...

The overview (what I include in my 'Other Books by the Author') which is only intended to interest readers so they will look at the other descriptions.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

If your story description is what attracts readers to your story, and is thus the most vital single paragraph in the entire epic, then it's worth spending a little longer getting it right!


This is from a site where they charge to write your novel or non-fiction blurb:

The book blurb is an essential part of the entire selling process for your book. The book cover may grab the reader's eyes, but the description is what makes the reader think "I must buy this book!"

It doesn't matter how amazing your cover is, how perfect the story is, how beautiful the interior looks, or how much time, money, and effort you've spent editing your book. If it has a boring description, readers are going to look elsewhere.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

If it has a boring description, readers are going to look elsewhere.


Unless they're after literary fiction! ;)

I've read story blurbs on the covers of dead-tree novels and afterwards thought that the blurb writer couldn't have read the novel. Occasionally those novels resulted in pleasant surprise, but usually it was disappointment.

AJ

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

when sometime keeps falling flat

I reject 'keeps falling flat', which I'd define as most people not getting them. Some of mine surely do. I absolutely reject the notion that jokes should be told in a way most people get most of the time. Attempt that and the jokes are not worth telling.

I would not have said anything if someone did not claim I left no clue. I pointed out the obvious clue.

red61544

A suggestion to authors: encourage your editors to write the blurb for your story. That's how dead tree publishers do it because authors either want to tell the whole story in the blurb or tell nothing at all.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
red61544

A suggestion to authors: encourage your editors to write the blurb for your story. That's how dead tree publishers do it because authors either want to tell the whole story in the blurb or tell nothing at all.

Switch Blayde

@red61544

A suggestion to authors: encourage your editors to write the blurb for your story.


I'm not sure an editor is the right person. The author is probably the best person for the job. It's his voice. He has writing skills. If not the author, someone with advertising skills.

Replies:   red61544
awnlee jawking

@red61544

That's how dead tree publishers do it


Is it? As I've said above, sometimes it's clear that the blurb writer hasn't read the story. Therefore I would have imagined that the blurb was written by the marketing department, using the latest research into words and phrases that pressed readers' buttons.

AJ

Replies:   red61544
Ross at Play

@red61544

A suggestion to authors: encourage your editors to write the blurb for your story. That's how dead tree publishers do it because authors either want to tell the whole story in the blurb or tell nothing at all.

Advice that good is worth saying twice, or thrice now, in the opinion of this not-so-humble editor.

red61544

@awnlee jawking

Is it?

Awnlee, that's how it supposed to be done. Unfortunately, in every business, people foist off their responsibilities to subordinates. And far too often, subordinates foist off their responsibilities to the peons below them.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
red61544

@Switch Blayde

I'm not sure an editor is the right person.

Switch, I'd agree with you if the "editor" was simply a proof-reader. If he's truly an editor, though, he knows that story almost as well as the author.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@red61544

simply a proof-reader


There is nothing "wrong" about being a proof-reader. I hope. I am miserable as an editor, but sometimes adequate as a proof-reader. If you contribute, if only a little, its a good thing.

awnlee jawking

@red61544

I'd be more convinced if authors of novels published by top publishers were to confirm that. My own feeling is that most professional editors lack the authoring and marketing skills to do the job of aggrandising a prospective best-selling novel.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Again, if the description is the MOST essential paragraph in the entire story, then the fact the author couldn't even be bothered checking it for errors is a clear sign they're not worried about blatant mistake in the least.

I see those a big-red flags, warning you about just how bad the rest of the story likely is.


A freebie for you. Can you see what's wrong in this blurb extract?

Unable to find a home and acceptance on Earth, an intrepid band of misplaced youth seek out their ancestral home among the stars. Unfortunately, their reception is what they were hoping for.


AJ

Replies:   red61544  Crumbly Writer
red61544

@awnlee jawking

band of misplaced youth seek out their ancestral home among the stars.


The subject is singular, "band". The predicate is plural, "seek".

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@red61544

That's not the error I was referring to.

I believe 'band' is a collective noun, which can take the singular or plural depending on whether the context refers to the whole or its members.

AJ

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@awnlee jawking

Awnlee, I still think "seeks" would be the correct predicate. Are you referring to: "Unfortunately, their reception is not what they were hoping." I hate ending a sentence with a preposition. I'd substitute "expecting" for "hoping", too.

Switch Blayde

@red61544

Are you referring to: "Unfortunately, their reception is not what they were hoping." I hate ending a sentence with a preposition. I'd substitute "expecting" for "hoping", too.


The "not" is missing in the blurb. I think that's what awnlee was pointing out. You read it even though it wasn't there.

Replies:   madnige  Crumbly Writer  REP
madnige

@Switch Blayde

I'd be more likely to read it without the 'not'

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

A freebie for you. Can you see what's wrong in this blurb extract?

Unable to find a home and acceptance on Earth, an intrepid band of misplaced youth seek out their ancestral home among the stars. Unfortunately, their reception is what they were hoping for.

Oops! Another last-minute hatchet job while cutting down a larger blurb. Here's the correct short (414 character) blurb:

Unable to find a home and acceptance on Earth, a band of misplaced youth seeks their ancestral home among the stars. Unfortunately, their reception is not what they hoped. The home they discover is a hostile place, involved in a huge interstellar war with an hostile alien species. Viewed as untrusted interlopers, they search for a place in a universe with no use for them, with nowhere to turn for assistance.

By the way, where did you get that description from. I just checked, and both SOL nor Scifi have the updated description. So I'm eager to update whichever description is old.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The "not" is missing in the blurb. I think that's what awnlee was pointing out. You read it even though it wasn't there.

Either way, it's an outdated description.

Ross at Play

Unable to find a home and acceptance on Earth, an intrepid band of misplaced youth seek out their ancestral home among the stars. Unfortunately, their reception is what they were hoping for.

1. 'not' is missing before 'what'.
2. 'seeks', not 'seek' - if 'band' is considered plural they act individually, seek their ancestral homes separately, so they would not receive a collective reception.
3. 'had hoped for' or 'had been hoping for' - their hope would be complete, dashed, by the time they are receiving their reception.

That was not the kind of first thing I had hoped to find confronting me when I got out of bed about ten minutes ago. :(

REP

@Switch Blayde

Unfortunately, their reception is what they were hoping for.


When I read the above, I thought of the saying - Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

In that context, I guessed the story was about learning that their ancestral home was what they expected it to be and they did not like living on the world they found.

But, you are probably right about not having been omitted.

awnlee_jawking

@red61544

Awnlee, I still think "seeks" would be the correct predicate.


You're probably right - in seeking out their ancestral home, 'the band' acts as a cohort.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

First, I owe you an apology for posting in an open forum. In my defence, I was miffed at your constant preaching about how careful you are with your blurbs etc.

The blurb is on Amazon. I was comparing some of your tightly compressed Amazon blurbs with your even more tightly compressed SOL blurbs.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

First, I owe you an apology for posting in an open forum. In my defence, I was miffed at your constant preaching about how careful you are with your blurbs etc.

The blurb is on Amazon. I was comparing some of your tightly compressed Amazon blurbs with your even more tightly compressed SOL blurbs.

No need to appologize. Once I get on a roll, I tend to go all out, and I recognize you really resent being told that there's a 'right way' to do anything. (By now, I expect and anticipate the pushback.)

But I was more interested in where the mistake was posted. Since I publish through so many outlets, it takes a LONG time to check each one individually. So informing me helps me to make corrections.

However, while I expect you to argue about my constantly pushing hobbyists into acting professionally, searching for and poking fun at obvious posting errors is a little under the belt. It's fair to criticize me for insisting that authors who publish for enjoyment need to step up their game, but in a fair fight, you don't score points for low blows. :(

Replies:   Ross at Play  anim8ed
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I wonder what mind-altering substance you took in between writing the first words of this post:

No need to appologize

and the last words:

you don't score points for low blows. :(

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I wonder what mind-altering substance you took in between writing the first words of this post:


and the last words:

I was recognizing his expected protests over my continually insisting on writing quality, while reminding him searching the web for typos is a bit desperate (i.e. he doesn't need to apologize for critiquing me, but going to such extremes is below his normal standards).

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I was recognizing his expected protests over my continually insisting on writing quality


Encouraging authors to improve their standards is laudable, but too often I'm left with a feeling of 'Physician, heal thyself'.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
anim8ed

@Crumbly Writer

while I expect you to argue about my constantly pushing hobbyists into acting professionally


It appears that you enjoy tilting at windmills. While there are many who are trying to hone their craft and present a more professional product there are just as many, if not more, who write for their own enjoyment and have no interest in improving. Not everyone has the desire or the time to devote to becoming a professional though they enjoy sharing their efforts.

I think the hobbyist should be encouraged to share as much as those seeking correction. Pushing them to do something they are not interested in will deter rather than encourage. Rather than push folks into the mold of what we feel a writer should be we should encourage each to reach whatever their goals are in sharing their writing / storytelling efforts. I hate to think of how many authors have been chased away by those offering unasked for criticism / advice.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Encouraging authors to improve their standards is laudable, but too often I'm left with a feeling of 'Physician, heal thyself'.

Alas, I only known what we're supposed to do by doing it wrong so many times, and continually seeking answers.

I still get a LOT wrong, but I'm continually improving, sanding down the rough edges and fine tuning my techniques. However, much of what many find hard to deal with my style is just that: my particular writing style.

Rather than the common usage found most everywhere today, I prefer complicated, unpopular topics, write in complex, often run-on sentences, and since I thrive on complexity, I often approach things in the most complicated manner I can.

While I'm not everyone's cup of tea, for those who appreciate these approaches, I'm a breath of ... complicated air. 'D

By the way, I managed to freeze myself out of my Amazon account by paging through and checking the descriptions, so had to wait a full day, but here's the complete Lost With Nothing to Lose description in a slightly longer form (800 characters, so it won't fit on SOL):

Unable to find a home and acceptance on Earth, an intrepid band of misplaced youth seeks their ancestral home among the stars. But their reception is not quite what they hoped. The home they discover is a hostile place, involved in a huge interstellar war with a hostile alien species. Everyone is on guard, and the newcomers are viewed as untrusted interlopers. They search for a place in a world with no use for them, with no place to turn for assistance.

Faced with an unwinnable situation, they seek to change the rules, risking arrest, trial and even death in hopes of fixing a world they know little about. To win friends they must prove the unprovable, face down an unstoppable enemy, and convince the Tandorians ready to kill them that they know them better than they know themselves.

So go ahead and pick that apart. I'm not afraid to refine these further, since I keep changing them anyway (and introducing all new typos).

Crumbly Writer

@anim8ed

It appears that you enjoy tilting at windmills. While there are many who are trying to hone their craft and present a more professional product there are just as many, if not more, who write for their own enjoyment and have no interest in improving. Not everyone has the desire or the time to devote to becoming a professional though they enjoy sharing their efforts.

That's precisely why I phrased the passage you quoted that way. While I'm not professing that everyone invest the time into these subjects that I do, or duplicate the same techniques that I'm still trying to master, I also know that there are several SOL authors that not only enjoy discussing these details, and who'll put the information to use.

But I'm not forcing these techniques down anyone's throats. If you aren't interested, then that's fine. But please, you don't need to go out of your way to sandbag and derail the discussion each time those of us who are hip-deep in these issues try to exchange ideas.

My sole point in this discussion was that the description requires just as much, if not MORE attention than any other part of your story, as it's often the sole piece which determines whether readers will choose to read your story or not.

Now granted, I do go overboard in describing how I implement my own ideas (i.e. name the protagonist, don't list plot points, focus on the main conflict), but everyone can pick and choose what they like from my suggestions. This isn't graded on a curve, and isn't even pass/fail. It's 'here are some suggestions, do what you will with them'.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@anim8ed

Not everyone has the desire or the time to devote to becoming a professional


No, but sometimes you don't know what you don't know.

I didn't know what "show don't tell" was before being told. I didn't know what head-hopping was before being told. Never heard the terms. Knowing about them gave me the opportunity to change. It didn't force me to change. That was my decision. But if I hadn't been told about them I wouldn't have had that choice.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

So go ahead and pick that apart.

I have not read your blurb yet, but that challenge, after all you've tossed my way recently, has made my day, punk!

To be continued ...

Ross at Play

@anim8ed

Not everyone has the desire or the time to devote to becoming a professional though they enjoy sharing their efforts.

I agree with that in principle. The point at which I object is when an author's lack of caring becomes obvious. That offends my principle of seeking the greatest common good - when an author is unwilling to make some efforts they'd rather not do at the cost of detracting from the enjoyment of many others.

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@Ross at Play

when an author is unwilling to make some efforts they'd rather not do at the cost of detracting from the enjoyment of many others.


That presumes they are writing for the enjoyment of others.

What about those who write because they enjoy it, then post to a free site for others to read, or not?

mode -devils advocate

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

But please, you don't need to go out of your way to sandbag and derail the discussion each time those of us who are hip-deep in these issues try to exchange ideas.

In truth, that statement hits a sore spot for me. 'Sandbag and derail the discussion' is a perfect description of something you did to me a while back - and I've been unable to forgive you for since.

I'm inclined to share your frustration at the negativity of some responding to expressions of desires for high quality work. From what I see, you have a very similar type of prejudice about formal writing styles causing bad writing, as opposed to the fact that much formal writing is very bad. I asked here for people to give me examples of very bad formal writing, hoping that I could prove it was bad writing, not the need for a formal style, which had caused the problem. You lambasted me so thoroughly for what I hoped to achieve no one was willing to be seen as having anything to do with my endeavour. I tried to gather some actual evidence to contribute to a discussion but (mostly) you managed to sabotage that.

That is history now, but will you please be aware in the future that your level of distaste for formal writing may be somewhat prejudiced and avoid shoving your opinions about it down others' throats. But I note, you are not alone here on that count.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@joyR

What about those who write because they enjoy it, then post to a free site for others to read, or not?

mode -devils advocate

If there's any justice after this world, they'll burn in hell for having such a callous disregard for others' desires.

Replies:   joyR
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

So go ahead and pick that apart.

THREE TYPOS ... IN ONE SENTENCE???

(Hooray, I've finally found a legitimate excuse for using three question marks!)

I checked and these are on Amazon.

In the last sentence: 'much' should be 'must'; the spelling of 'unstoppable'; and 'known' should be 'know'.

There are many situations where I prefer past simple tenses over past perfect tenses. To me, 'hoped' instead of 'had hoped' feels like an unsuitable situation to do that.

I would cut 'unfortunately' out, especially if there's a need to cut the number of characters.

The final clause is tricky because third-person pronouns are needed for two groups. I don't think what you have is ambiguous at all, but you might consider this:

... convince those Tandorians ready to kill them that they known them better than they know themselves.

I have shifted 'Tandorians' to earlier in the sentence and replaced where it had been with 'them'. That seems to create a better rhythm with 'they know them[selves]' on both sides of a 'better than' comparison.

Otherwise, I found it - disappointingly - readable.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
joyR

@Ross at Play

they'll burn in hell for having such a callous disregard for others' desires.


Not going to happen. There are protests against the operation of our local crematorium, apparently burning bodies is environmentally unfriendly. The crem' owners say the filters remove any damaging emissions, but the protesters are just dying to prove them wrong.

More on point, at least with stroke stories I imagine the readers care less about the spelling and grammar and more about getting off before the story ends. Well, that and missing their keyboard with the finale.

I understand your personal and strongly held opinion but isn't "such a callous disregard" just a little excessive..??

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@joyR

isn't "such a callous disregard" just a little excessive..??

I refer you back to my previous comments on the 'greatest common good'.

I misread the OxD definition of 'callous'. It says 'insensitive and cruel disregard', while I saw 'insensitive or cruel disregard'

So, my revised statement is '[I hope] they burn in hell for having such indifference towards others.' .

awnlee jawking

@joyR

What about those who write because they enjoy it, then post to a free site for others to read, or not?


I can think of a few authors who release unpolished stories on SOL, and sometimes the freshness makes a pleasing contrast, despite any spelling and grammar bloopers.

AJ

Replies:   joyR  Crumbly Writer
joyR

@awnlee jawking

I can think of a few authors who release unpolished stories on SOL, and sometimes the freshness makes a pleasing contrast, despite any spelling and grammar bloopers.


I will admit that errors in story descriptions put me off and I very soon stop reading badly written stories. My issue isn't that those authors could do better, but the idea of denigrating someone for posting a story to a free site just sticks in my craw.

Much like free speech, I might hate what a person says, or dislike how ineloquently he expresses himself, but I will fight so he can speak freely. And do so without any pressure to improve.

So yes, raw can be fresh, but Ross also has a point. Even if it does leave me looking for Hiemlich.

awnlee jawking

@joyR

I believe the site moderators are supposed to trap any stories which are really dire (since they reflect badly on the site), so there is a backstop of sorts.

Fortunately literature hasn't yet descended to the level of art, where works that look like they were produced by a terrible two-year-old are much acclaimed by the metropolitan elite.

AJ

Replies:   joyR
joyR
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I believe the site moderators are supposed to trap any stories which are really dire


Yes, but there are still 431 stories that score less than 4 so the bar isn't that high.


Fortunately literature hasn't yet descended to the level of art, where works that look like they were produced by a terrible two-year-old are much acclaimed


And long may that continue. Please..!!

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@joyR

Yes, but there are still 431 stories that score less than 4 so the bar isn't that high.


Theoretically that's the appeal of the story rather than the technical quality. Some of mine bother the 4s :(

AJ

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@awnlee jawking

Theoretically that's the appeal of the story rather than the technical quality.


There is still a thread going where a number of people have stated how much they down mark stories for technical quality. So you can't have it both ways.

Either all of those readers who score a story are taking technical quality into account, or the scores are generally a gut call. Pick one.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I didn't know what "show don't tell" was before being told. I didn't know what head-hopping was before being told. Never heard the terms. Knowing about them gave me the opportunity to change. It didn't force me to change. That was my decision. But if I hadn't been told about them I wouldn't have had that choice.

Good point, but in their defense, both anima8ed and Awnlee object to someone continually hammering the same point, over and over. Is isn't pointing out the difference they object to, but how long we spend discussing it. That's why it's probably best, knowing how everyone responds by now, that once we start those discussions, we take them off-line to avoid the usual harangues that follow. :(

Replies:   awnlee jawking  anim8ed
awnlee jawking

@joyR

There is still a thread going where a number of people have stated how much they down mark stories for technical quality.


There have been many threads in which people have admitted idiosyncratic use of the scoring system - always awarding 10s as a way of saying thank you to the author, for example. If the technical quality is so poor as to make the story hard to read, obviously that's going to impact a reader's enjoyment, but rarely should it be the most important factor.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Good point, but in their defense, both anima8ed and Awnlee object to someone continually hammering the same point, over and over.


I object to people mindlessly repeating bubblethink without understanding when a particular technique is acceptable or not. Particularly galling is when they justify their repetition using adjectives like 'cleaner' and 'stronger' in place of logical reasoning.

I exempt the venerable Switch from that criticism because he accepts that the approach he favours nowadays (showing, and no head hopping) is not always the best for every circumstance.

AJ

anim8ed

@joyR

Thank you joyR. That was partly the point I was trying to make, poorly as usual it seems.

Most authors who wish to improve solicit feedback and corrections. For myself I offer feedback and corrections only to those who ask for them and just thank the rest for sharing.

Crumbly Writer

@joyR

What about those who write because they enjoy it, then post to a free site for others to read, or not?

There's a LOT of that here, but it also takes many forms. Many, like myself, write books which I know are unlikely to appeal to many readers, simply because I prefer an outdated style that went 'out of date' over 70s years! Though still, knowing that my works are difficult to parse, I continually work to make them a little easier to make sense of: but it's been a long and tough road.

Others (remaining nameless) simply say 'screw it', I'll write what I like, and if others are offended by it, then screw them and their mother's too!

That seems less than ideal. Not only do we not have to 'screw everyone' in sight, but we can make our stories more enjoyable by whoever reads them. I'm continually hammered about my worldview, which I've never make a secret of, but I still retain both liberal and conservative readers who continue to read my stories, despite when I sometimes offend them.

They key isn't to dictate how we write stories, but to point out common problem we've encountered, discuss the different ways of fixing them, and then leave it up to each other which techniques best bit their stories.

NO technique, no matter how terrific, will ever fit into each use. That's akin to insisting that, since I have a hammer, that every problem is a nail when other writers are instead describing carnivorous bunnies! (Me loves mixing me metaphors!) 'D

In the end, despite how much I keep refining and extending my arguments, I'm often the first to admit when I've wrong far afield, and no one is dictating what others write or don't write. Instead, we're merely describing techniques.

By the way, Awnlee and Anima8ee, if you feel the rest of us are getting obsessive, just suggest that we've overplayed out hand and that we take the discussion offline. I've tried suggesting you simply avoid the protracted discussions before, but apparently that's a non-starter. We know we're in the minority here, and we each have each other's email's for private conversations, and once we've made our initial points, the majority of readers don't need to be inundated with the overly detailed followup discussions.

But please, let's try to downplay the sniping, low-blows, personal attacks and tits-for-tots ('tit for tat') responses!

anim8ed

@Crumbly Writer

My biggest error with my post was not separating forum discussion from author feedback. I mushed the two together and muddled my message. Your statement I quoted triggered one of my hot buttons which is more about feedback than forums.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

In truth, that statement hits a sore spot for me. 'Sandbag and derail the discussion' is a perfect description of something you did to me a while back - and I've been unable to forgive you for since.

Sorry about that. I tried apologizing (something else of mine which fell flat, since I merely tried to switch the blame), so I'm not going to go into an explanation for that response.

In short (violating my own promise not to), I wasn't shutting your discussion down (thought that's clearly how it came across), but was suggesting it would work better as a separate discussion thread (less cross contamination of the results).

But I take your warning seriously. And just for the record, I have noting against formal writing, as I'm continually reading research papers and articles and books all the time, but when we're discussing fiction, bringing up non-fiction usages often confuses the issues unnecessarily.

So, once again, take my 'non-apology apology' for what it is. Either way, I'm sorry for my actions. :(

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

THREE TYPOS ... IN ONE SENTENCE???

(Hooray, I've finally found a legitimate excuse for using three question marks!)

I checked and these are on Amazon.

Thanks! Those are all highly useful (as most of your corrections have been over the years). As I'd mentioned (covering for myself again rather than simply admitting I screwed up), Amazon forced me to wait for a full day before I can even see what I'd said, so when I go into the description again, I patched what I could and resubmitted it right away without waiting for it to be proofread by others. Bad move, I know, but I know these things often take time and I wanted to clear up the 'things were just as they'd always hoped' typo. :(

As for the 'hoped'/'had hoped', since I am focusing on shaving individual characters, adding the past-perfect "had hoped" didn't seem to help, as the context seemed clear (to my eyes, at least, but please, tell me if I'm blind to my own shortsightedness!).

As for the "Unfortunately", the entire sentence contradicts the initial one, so it needed a dependent clause. So going with your advice, I deleted the word but replaced it with "But …" to help provide the necessary relation between the two sentences (I hate starting sentences with conjunctions (at least in story descriptions), but … "Yet" clearly didn't cut it!

I did use your rephrased "Tandorians" line, though I'd gone with the first because it put the emphasis on "better than (this alien culture) knew itself". Style differences I guess.

Otherwise, I found it - disappointingly - readable.

That's my main aim. I know I'll never be a literary genius, but if the story is at least readable, and makes sense, then I'll simply stand aside and let the story speak for itself (since my strength is storytelling, and NOT English grammar and compositions! (mea culpa)

And once again, thanks. I don't object to anyone pointing out mistakes, I objected to your searching for mistakes, not to correct them, but just to publicly belittle me with. It would've been fine if you'd PMed me and then publicly humiliated me, because at least then your motives would have been clearer. 'D

I certainly deserve grief for espousing something and not following up on it, but nothing says you can't have your cake and shove it in my face too! 'D

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I can think of a few authors who release unpolished stories on SOL, and sometimes the freshness makes a pleasing contrast, despite any spelling and grammar bloopers.

Now that we can both agree on.

There's nothing better than seeing a newbie author, who despite not being a polished writer, offers an entirely new approach to their stories. In those cases, SOL readers are often willing to overlook many examples to terrible grammar and composition. But in those cases, it's the strength of their storytelling that's driving readers, versus their knowledge of grammar a composition, which they can pick up later.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@joyR

I will admit that errors in story descriptions put me off and I very soon stop reading badly written stories. My issue isn't that those authors could do better, but the idea of denigrating someone for posting a story to a free site just sticks in my craw.

Much like free speech, I might hate what a person says, or dislike how ineloquently he expresses himself, but I will fight so he can speak freely. And do so without any pressure to improve.

Two excellent, though contrary points. 'D What more can we ask of our authors than to present natural conflicts in their writing?

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

There's nothing better than seeing a newbie author, who despite not being a polished writer, offers an entirely new approach to their stories. In those cases, SOL readers are often willing to overlook many examples to terrible grammar and composition. But in those cases, it's the strength of their storytelling that's driving readers, versus their knowledge of grammar a composition, which they can pick up later.


Case in point: one of the worst stories I've read on SOL in terms of grammar, punctuation and spelling is 'Tales From Mist World' - a reviewer awarded a technical score of 2. But look at the stellar story score, which reflects the fact that it's a rollicking good yarn!

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

was suggesting it would work better as a separate discussion thread (less cross contamination of the results).

I did that. From where I was sitting the damage had already been done.

But I take your warning seriously.

Thanks. That's all I was asking for now. I haven't mentioned it before, but if you re-read the comments I reacted to today, you'll see why they sent my BP soaring.

Non-apology non-noted. ;)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Case in point: one of the worst stories I've read on SOL in terms of grammar, punctuation and spelling is 'Tales From Mist World' - a reviewer awarded a technical score of 2. But look at the stellar story score, which reflects the fact that it's a rollicking good yarn!

Those are the cases where you want to take the authors under your wing and suggest some decent editors. That's how many of us started, and it's taken us years to realize just how little we comprehended about basic grammar and composition. While editors can generally fill in the gaps and make what we write legible, they can't make a boring story readable!

In the end, the story is always king, but like most monarchs, they need a retinue of 'advisors' to keep them on target lest they get lost in the swamps charging into battle. (Those damn butterflies love a good fight!)

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

'hoped'/'had hoped' ... the context seemed clear (to my eyes)

That one's a "yes, but" IMO. The past simple does not exclude the possibility that the hoping has ending. The past perfect does. It's not essential but I would prefer it.

"Unfortunately", the entire sentence contradicts the initial one, so it needed a dependent clause. So going with your advice, I deleted the word but replaced it with "But …"

You're right about the reason a dependent clause is needed. I approve of the choice 'but'.

Style differences I guess.

I find I utilise patterns and rhythms more in my writing than most. I am sometimes prone to overkill with that.

just to publicly belittle me

There was nothing personal in it. I came. I saw. I nitpicked. I'm an equal-opportunity pest. I see a nit; I pick on it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I did that. From where I was sitting the damage had already been done.

Yeah. I got that. What makes it worse, when you DID start the separate discussion, it went nowhere, which invalidated my arguments! :(

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

That one's a "yes, but" IMO. The past simple does not exclude the possibility that the hoping has ending. The past perfect does. It's not essential but I would prefer it.

Thanks for that, as me helps me decide which approach to take, but another little piece of trivia, I avoid using contractions (like hadn't) because while my stories all use correct fonts, the descriptions most sites offer don't, causing often unreadable text! ("They'd hoped" is easier to read than "They had hoped", which tends to stop the reader at the end of the sentence.

There was nothing personal in it. I came. I saw. I nitpicked. I'm an equal-opportunity pest. I see a nit; I pick on it.

And as I told awnlee, most times I fully deserve it!

By the way, the "what they hoped" was an attempt to get rid of the "what they hoped for", but introducing it just introduced more issues!

Mike-Kaye

@Ernest Bywater

I need final editing but would the following drive interest in my story? Tentative title: Dead Girl's Vengeance.

Story based on an idea triggered from peregrinf's If It Seems Too Good to Be True.

Premise: murdered girls go to 'The Grotto' where some take the opportunity to learn vengeance. 9yo Carol wants to learn. She learns how to enter the world of the living and return. She learns how to glamour herself, cause pain, and more. She takes a point in her first vengeance. She takes minor role in her second vengeance. Then she helps Sami, a 14yo Grotto resident, carry out a sting. Child murderers generally depart their lives in pain. Those who 'merely' abuse children receive a painful lifelong reminder of their misdeeds.

Sexual content: very little. Sami proves herself to a pimp. We see her on one date where the sexuality is almost clinical. This story is NOT about sex or child abuse; it's about vengeance aimed at child abusers.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Mike-Kaye

I need final editing but would the following drive interest in my story?


I'm not sure if it would get readers or not. However, while the story description should tell about the story it should only tell enough to garner interest in it and not be a full account of the story - that's why it's so hard to get some of them right. It also needs to be a little lively and have a little mystery to it. Based solely on what you have above I'd probably write something like (feel free to use it, or any part of it, if you want):

What happens to the spirits of murdered children? Can their spirits re-enter the world of the living? Is there a way for them to get revenge on their murderers? Some think spirits of the murdered can return to the world to seek vengeance. If they can, why don't they all do it, and how would the ones who can do so learn to do so? Join Carol as she learns about The Grotto and many other things.

.....................

The style of the description should vary with the type of story and its content.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


If they can, why don't they all do it, and how would the ones who can do so learn to do so?

I'd trim your second-to-last line to:

If they can, why don't they all, and how do they learn?

In descriptions, shorter is often punchier (just don't use mine as examples!) 'D

P.S. Ernest, your example is much longer than SOL's 500 character maximum size for story descriptions.

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