Tag Archives: literary crimes

‘How to Tell if the Book You’re Reading Was Written by a Space Alien’ (2015)

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Actually, in the three years since I posted this, it has become more difficult to tell which books have been written by space aliens instead of human beings. But the examples provided still hold true.


Thing is, more and more people nowadays behave like space aliens! I mean, would genuine earth people sit together around a table, on the sidewalk outside the pizza parlor, and instead of talking with each other, just sit there transfixed by some electronic doodad? (Please say I’m right.)


‘A Rejected Invitation’ (2014)

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If I actually read all the books I am invited to review, my brain would turn into foam and come out of my ears. Like, for instance:


Who decided “changing our genders” would be a good thing? Who decided that we needed that in our culture? Who decided God’s created order wasn’t good enough?

I can’t think of anything more terrifying that a utopia created by sinners.

Thy will be done, O Lord our God.

‘Why Do I Read Bad “Christian” Novels?’ (2016)

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It’s sort of a pet peeve of mine, the business of pumping up an inferior product by calling it “Christian” and trying to make Christians feel guilty for not buying it. We see this a lot in publishing and “entertainment.”


It’s not that secular novels, movies, and TV scripts set impossibly high artistic standards that Christians can never hope to equal. Overall, those standards ought to be fairly easy to beat. Christian artists must try harder.

Because, after all, we have to answer to a higher authority.

‘A “Celtic Adventure” and a Literary Crime’ (2014)

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This is the illiterate feminist knock-off of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael mysteries. If you were creating a dictionary of literary errors and prat falls, it would very closely resemble this disaster, St. Brigid’s Bones.


Why does anybody write a book like this? Well, ignorance would explain that.

But why would anybody ever publish it? You’ve got me there!

Can’t Miss! ‘Throne of Games’

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While I’m waiting for them to print The Silver Trumpet, I’ve got an idea for another fantasy series that just can’t help but make boxcar-loads of money.

I’ll call it A Throne of Games–I’m already offering the TV and movie rights–and it will feature beloved fantasy characters with really cool names.

Tydibol, the drop-dead gorgeous Invincible Female Warrior who does jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks.

Gassex the Crusty But Benign Old Wizard who talks like a text message.

Clairol the Buxom Tavern Wench, always up for a good time.

The Duke of Pez, villainous beyond belief, with a castlefull of monsters.

Solgar the Strong, the drop-dead gorgeous Hunk, Invincible Male Warrior with this really thick neck, it’s hard to tell where his head begins, who does jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks.

Plus a multitude of drop-dead gorgeous know-it-all Elves, insatiably lusty Dwarves, and all sorts of supporting characters who have absolutely no morals and commit all manner of revolting crimes.

Because, you see, in A Throne of Games, everyone’s bad–unless they’re, like, this total victim who’ll be lucky to survive two pages–and so the reader doesn’t have to decide who to root for, he can just sit back and enjoy the sex and carnage. In fact, these characters are so loathsome, even I’m turned off. Whose idea was it to get me to write this garbage? Well, confound it, I won’t! And I am withdrawing those movie and TV offers as of this confounded minute!

‘I Stand Rebuked’ (2016)

So here it is, past 11:00, only my body knows it’s really only just past 10 and I’m only running late, and can’t catch up, because of stupid Daylight Savings Time–fap!

Be that as it may, here’s what can happen to you when you write a somewhat less than enthusiastic book review.


‘Stop the Lousy Writing, Please’ (2015)

Back when every word I wrote got rejected, it used to drive me plum crazy to see all the howlingly awful books that were being published. Even some of the best-sellers! Stories that made no sense. Prose that read like a six-year-old wrote it. Stuff that read like a space alien wrote it, after taking a two-hour course on how to imitate humans.


Why it still goes on is a matter that defies analysis.

How to Gum Up Your Story

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a fantasy, a murder mystery, or any other kind of novel. The surest way to gum it up is to have an agenda besides just telling the story.

Yesterday we watched an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit because Amanda Plummer had an award-winning part in it, playing a schizophrenic who’d been the victim of a sexual assault. She was good, all right, although the rest of the acting was kind of wooden and mechanical: sort of like what you’d expect from Hollywood screenwriters who think, “This is the way New York cops talk–like puppets.”

But what was really wrong with it was the show’s fetish for “diversity.” Because of a need to represent every identity group in New York, the script had to accommodate a bewildering parade of characters–and even then they left out African pygmies and transgender types. The story staggered under its burden of identity politics, and we got the impression that watching this show on a regular basis could get quite tiresome.

“Oh! But this or that group will be offended if we don’t include a character representing it! We’ve got to be inclusive!”

You can’t tell any kind of worthwhile story if you’re standing on a soapbox.

Words and Terms That Can Kill Your Fantasy Dead

Do you want any more transgender news today? Naaah–let’s talk about fantasy-writing instead.

But first, an antique joke: The debutante’s father says to her, “My dear, there are two words I forbid you to use. One is swell and the other is lousy.” To which the debutante replies, “Of course, papa. And what are the two words?” [laugh break]

Well, if you’re trying to write fantasy, or even historical novels, here are six words, or terms, that you may never use without reminding your audience that they’re only reading some stupid thing that you made up, and they won’t be able to enjoy it by imagining it’s real.

Ms. People living in the Middle Ages did not use this title. In fact, it’s not even as old as I am. Characters inhabiting a fantasy world shouldn’t use it, either. Otherwise the author calls attention to the fact that what you’re reading isn’t real.

Lifestyle. Under no circumstances use this word, either in narrative or dialogue. It strongly hints that the author is a putz. Characters in fantasy stories do not have lifestyles. Can you imagine the damage done to his work, if J.R.R. Tolkien had ever mentioned “the hobbit lifestyle”? Perish the thought.

Gender. This used to be called “sex.” It’s a garbage word used by nitwits. Of course, you might wish to imagine a world in which there really are more than two sexes. If done well, it might even be interesting. But I am not aware that anyone has ever done it well.

Multicultural or Diversity, etc. If you want to talk about “diversity” among the natives of your fictional world, don’t insult the reader’s intelligence  by telling him something like “There is great diversity among the Heathen peoples of Obann.” No, no, no! Describe what these people look like, how they live, what they believe–paint a picture of them. If you really have no idea at all how to do this, you’re better off writing something other than fantasy. Instructions for assembling a chair, perhaps.

Social justice. This term is mere camouflage for liberal politics. Trust libs to give justice a bad name. Never, never, never use your fiction as a soapbox for your politics. Not only will most people hate reading it; before too long, no one will be able to read it because it will have become totally irrelevant.

Self-image, and similar preoccupations. If your fictional hero’s interest and attention is focused on himself, you can be sure your reader’s attention will soon be focused on someone else’s book. Make sure you never stoop to using such a phrase as “So-and-so’s journey of self-discovery.” Discovering the source of the Nile is interesting. Discovering a some fictional character’s self is not. And anyhow, you can write that theme without ever boring the reader by baldly stating it. In other words, don’t talk about it–do it.

Even a really good story can be murdered by the author’s most trifling use of these words and phrases. It’s hard enough to come up with a really good story. Don’t handicap yourself by weighing it down with any of this literary slag.


Romance + Fantasy = Literary Vandalism

As I struggle to get anything done today, the perky publicist is at me again, this time trying to get me to review something that sounds like it might be one of the worst books ever.

Because I’m not going to read the blasted thing, I won’t give the title or the author’s name: no way anyone will be able to say I gave them a bum steer. Anyhow, what matters is some general principles.

Two unwholesome cliches are basic to this book–which, incidentally, is not self-published.

First, we have the Beautiful Female Police Officer who, it turns out, much to her surprise, is the daughter of a Greek god. Yeah, I guess that’d surprise most people–unless they read a certain kind of squishy, nauseating fantasy. Then they wouldn’t be surprised at all, because this daughter-of-a-pagan-god thing is done to death.

Second, we have her–let me quote it exactly, because there’s no way to paraphrase the bodacious awfulness of this–“saved by the man of her dreams–the tall, dark and sexy vampire named Xen Lyson.”

The publicist goes on to tell us that this author “lives with her husband and their Alpha and Beta children…” What is that? How are these different from regular children?

Are these writers and publishers and publicists trying to bury fantasy altogether? Put it out of business? Suffocate it under a mountain of tacky, unwholesome, unoriginal, stale, brainless, tiresome, lubber-headed garbage?

The sexy vampire–it ought to be a flogging offense. There’s a certain kind of romance mind-set, involving sex with entirely unsuitable objects, that totally makes me scheeve. You don’t go far in the romance genre without encountering this. To bring it into fantasy, too, is literary vandalism.


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