Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Properly Describe a Book

Favorite books. We all have them. And sometimes they're so wonderful, so breathtaking, so life changing, that we make it our personal mission to enlighten the world.
And we suck at it. You know what? Nobody cares if you connected with the main character, or if the writing is drop dead gorgeous, or if twist-that-shall-not-be-described forever changed the way you read books. When someone sees you carrying a book and asks what it's about, they don't want this:
"So it's, um, basically set in this alternate society that's kind of like earth but it's kind of not. And there are these squirrels. Like, giant squirrels who are ten feet tall and giant with razor sharp teeth that can bite through things. And certain squirrel clans are peaceful with the humans but others are rivals with the human cities-they all live in these dome cities-because there's this ancient blood feud that's been going on for seven hundred years ever since the humans and squirrels fought against each other in this war called the Pirate Wars. And so this boy, Fabio, he's born into the squirrel society-I mean, into this world, he lives in one of the domed cities. It's actually the capital of the dome cities. And they live in fear of the giant squirrels because they can fly..."
Bored yet? I am. Here's a seven step method to properly describe your favorite book.
1. Remove All Hesitation Words from Your Vocabulary
Um, basically, like, etc. Nobody wants to hear these.
2. Who's this Happening to?
The first word out of your mouth should be the main character's name. Example: "Fabio."
3. Who is He?
"Fabio, who wants to be a champion skydiver."
4. What Does He Want?
"Fabio, who wants to be a champion skydiver, is devastated when his brother Bob is kidnapped by mutant squirrels. The only way he can afford to pay the ransom is to win the skydiving championship."
5. Why Do We Care?
"If he fails, Bob will be sacrificed to the ancient squirrel gods."
6. Who's the Villain?
"But Parkinson, the current champion, will do whatever it takes to sabotage Fabio."
See? We've got the plot down. We didn't get to the Pirate Wars and the domed cities. You don't get to reveal the shocking twist where Parkinson pokes a hole in Fabio's parachute and forces him to crash-land in a lake and discover the squirrel treasure that the pirates stole all those decades ago and pay the ransom and halt the blood feud and tear down the domed cities so man and squirrel can live in harmony.
What you've got is the stuff people actually care about. And now they can get on with their lives. The End.

Note: The book mentioned in this post does not exist. And kind of I'm glad it doesn't. 

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