Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Unrequested Critique: The Fury of the Fae

Today, I am critiquing The Fury of the Fae, by Burnie Morris, which task is only enjoyable because my inner critic likes to kick puppies and make kittens cry. I don't feel any shame in this, as this book would make puppies and kittens cry as well. As far as I am concerned, he started it.

This is the book's blurb.
Prehistoric fantasy: a tale of love, passion, betrayal, horror, salvation and revenge.
The Fae: a supremely advanced form of mankind, viewed as almost magical or divine by ordinary men. They have extraordinary powers of healing, teleportation, and radiating 'fire' from the eyes. They have fantastic strength, durability and virility. They are immortal – but not invincible. 
They are fugitives from a dying world, have established a small colony on the planet Omega in order to help the primitive race of mankind which is attempting to flourish there (the Morts). They have ingratiated themselves by defeating the evil Gobl – an alien species which formerly threatened the supremacy of the Morts. 
Now there is peace on Omega, for a while...
Some books scream "don't buy me," and this one does an admiral job of it. Bookmark this as an example of what not to do. With my first look at the cover, I knew that there wasn't a good experience waiting for me, and I was correct. The cover depicts a winged boy, some rough letters, and a lightning bolt, all drawn in such a way as to demonstrate an absolute ignorance of the rule of thirds, let alone the rules that govern good taste, beauty, and selling books. In most cases, ugly covers do not sell books.

The novel opens with a list of vocabulary terms that nobody will read. I certainly didn't bother. This was followed with not one, but two prologues. (One prologue doesn't call itself that, but it's a prologue.) I skimmed over those as they were very short. There was nothing in them that required their existence, being that this sort of information is easy to work into a book. The book then begins in great, vague, wishy-washy description which works to delay the pain.

I'll get to the meat of this vivisection quickly. The author fails to entertain the reader. This is no venial sin. This is the sort of thing that gives you a bad name, and if you know the bartender, free drinks with the hope that you'll never be sober enough to write again. Entertaining the audience is the first lesson that any writer should learn from Shakespeare. Entertaining the audience is what pays the bills.

How to explain this to the writer?

I can see some chain smoking, martini drinking, has-been agent sitting down in some New York lounge watching women take their clothes off. Some wanna-be writer hands him a manuscript and he looks it over, partly because he's a sucker for wanna-be's, but mostly because he's had two martinis and he's feeling real happy.

"Kid," he'd say, no matter whether that writer is a kid or not, "When I look at a manuscript, I ask myself one question: which publisher would buy this book? If the answer is nobody, I hand it back. It's that simple. I've looked at this book. Nobody is going to buy this. That's not a knock against you, it's a knock against the book. Go home and write me a book that I can sell and I'll sell it. It's that simple."

That's our lesson for today. Don't show some no-name agent your manuscript in a titty bar. He's not going to read a word of it.