Monday, April 29, 2013

Notes From A Science Fiction Convention For A New Writer

All right. I don't like being cruel, and to me, making too much out of the errors of a beginner is definitely cruel. Unfortunately, the major error I'm about to discuss is epic, and more than a little hilarious, and by dint of becoming a major topic of discussion amongst writers at ConFlux in Canberra a few days ago, is most certainly out there in the public domain by now

Let me set the scene. There's a bunch of us sitting around a table in Rydges. People like Sean Williams, Peter Ball, myself, Peter Fischer... writers all, and all of us equipped with somewhat sharp edges when it comes to humour. (Sean is the nicest guy I know, by the way. In fact, I and many others are convinced that Niceness is his superpower. Because if he wasn't so relentlessly, joyously, wonderfully lovely to know, we would have to kill him out of rage and envy for his sheer awesomeness. What's worse, that just makes him more awesome -- and he's STILL too nice to kill!)

We're looking at the Con booklet. That's the big, shiny printed thing with all the information about the Con. It's got timetables, and names, and it's got short stories for entertainment (congratulations, Aidan!) and of course, it has advertising. And the advertising is relevant. Naturally.

Now, one of the advertisements is for a book which, it transpires, appears to be self-published. There's a little fantasy-style illustration, which is nice. There are sundry plaudits for the book in quotes, although none of the quotes is actually attributed. To anybody. Anywhere.

There's also a title. And the title is:

Weapon Of Flesh.

(Yep. That's a link. If I'm gonna talk about this guy's stuff, I'm gonna do my best to give him a boost, even if I'm laughing.)

I think you can guess what came next. But in case you're not equipped with the same kind of feelthy, feelthy sense of humour which prevails amongst us highbrow types, somebody immediately said: "Well, I'm sure he meant Flesh Weapon."

Before the rest of us could even smirk, someone else said "No, no! He's talking about his pork sword!"

And it was on. Within the next ten minutes, somewhere between a raft of authors, a soon-to-be-much-less-legendary-than-he-deserves character was born: Roger Porksword -- Private Dick. He even comes with a tagline: Roger Porksword -- he ain't shootin' blanks!

Now, if you haven't picked up the lesson here, I will articulate it for you. It doesn't matter if you decide to go the self-publish route, folks. You still need feedback. Get an editor. Get a beta reader. Get a writers group. Get a friend. Better still, get an enemy. And if people fall apart into giggles when they read the title of your very serious magic/martial arts/fantasy novel, then think about it again, for the love of all things generic!

And in the meantime, if Chris Jackson gets a sales boost from this, well -- I'll feel better about the laughs we all got at the expense of his title, there. Even if he doesn't, hopefully this note will help somebody else farther down the track.

Finally: look out for the Adventures of Roger Porksword, Private Dick -- 'coming' soon!