Does your best paragraph belong in your book?

Consider this paragraph from a well-known novel:

“It rained for eight days without taking a breath. No dank December drizzle this, but rain with attitude. The rogue progeny of some sweet-named Caribbean hurricane had come north, liked it and stayed. Rivers in the Midwest burst their banks and the TV news was awash with images of people crouched on rooftops and the bloated bodies of cattle twirling like abandoned airbeds in swimming-pool fields. In Missouri a family of five drowned in their car while waiting in line at McDonald’s and the President flew in and declared it a disaster, as some on the rooftops had already guessed.”

Do you recognize the passage? If so, you have a good memory. If not, it’s because it’s not usually one of those excerpts that reviewers and sites like GoodReads quote from the novel.

I noticed this paragraph recently because I’m re-reading the book. I smiled as I read it because it’s the kind of thing I would write for a satirical novel or blog post. Bits and pieces of it could even fit in a comedian’s stand-up comedy routine. For satire and/or dark humor, the paragraph is slick, well-written, and filled with sadistic puns and groaner double entendres.

However, the paragraph appears in a book listed as a psychological thriller that focuses on love, loss, family, and coming to grips with massive change. That being the case, I think the author should have cut this graph from the novel and saved it for another book because outside of comedy or satire, this is over the top:

  • taking a breath
  • rain with attitude
  • liked it and stayed
  • news was awash with images
  • abandoned airbeds
  • And then we end with the family drowning in a line at McDonald’s followed by the President declaring it (the flood or the McDonalds?) a disaster area

The passage gets “worse and worse” the farther it goes and becomes really dark with the Missouri family/disaster area juxtapositioning.

I believe most critics and writing professors would classify all this as “too much” in a mainstream novel. In context, the passage seems out of place at the beginning of a subsection in which a young girl is in a coma while her parents wonder if she’ll survive. Perhaps the novelist saw this as a transitional, “adding insult-to-injury” kind of paragraph. Or maybe he liked the contrast between the slick weather description and the horror of the girl supported by machines, tubes, and sensors.

In general, what do you think?

Does your opinion change one way or the other when I tell you this excerpt came from The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans?

Writers are advised to kill their darlings. I wish Evans had pulled the trigger or put these words into a drawer for later use.

Malcolm

My eight novels and numerous short stories fit into the genres of contemporary fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, and satire. Other than the Special Investigative Reporter, my storytelling focuses on magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio edition of ‘Jock Stewart Strikes Back’ released

Jock Stewart Strikes Back by Malcolm R. Campbell –Now Available Audio, Print and All Ebook Editions!

JSSB Audiographic

Jock Stewart Strikes Back

by Malcolm E. Campbell

Since modern-day journalism is going to hell in a hand basket and/or nowhere fast, Jock Stewart strikes back by categorizing news events as satirical, outlandish, strange or political. Nonetheless, according to informed sources, the use of this volume as a journalism textbook has not been authorized anywhere the world is right as rain.

The fictional news stories and “Night Beat” editorial columns in this collection began as posts on the “Morning Satirical News” weblog and subsequently appeared in the Worst of Jock Stewart and/or the “Jock Talks” series of e-books. Jock Talks…Politics was a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Stewart, who served diligently as the protagonist in Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, refutes charges that he was raised by alligators or hyenas. When he was a young boy, his dear old daddy said, “Jock, everyone but you and me is scum and I’m not sure about you.”

That proverb opened Jock’s eyes to the realities of the world, primarily that everything is worse than it seems: the small-town newspaper, the Star-Gazer, is allegedly run by fools and buffoons; the Junction City, Texas, government is allegedly corrupt and inept.

Production Notes

Jock Stewart Strikes Back is narrated and produced by Barry Newman, Florida. Barry’s career in media and journalism, including voice work in radio and TV commercials, lends a unique ‘Jock-ness’ to the production, and we look forward to working with him again in the future.

Where You Can Find It

AUDIOBOOK: http://www.amazon.com/Jock-Stewart-Strikes-Back/dp/B00K34NFPA

PRINT: http://www.amazon.com/Jock-Stewart-Strikes-Malcolm-Campbell/dp/0615989225

KINDLE: http://www.amazon.com/Jock-Stewart-Strikes-Malcolm-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00IUA1S76

ALLROMANCE/OMNILIT: https://www.omnilit.com/product-jockstewartstrikesback-1465654-242.html

APPLE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/jock-stewart-strikes-back/id839659754

NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jock-stewart-strikes-back-malcolm-r-campbell/1118909075

SMASHWORDS ALL EBOOK FORMATS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/417765

Jock Stewart Strikes Back Sneak Peek Video

Sometimes writers forget to back up their work

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

Cynical book reviewers often suggest some books are best eaten by dogs, used as doorstops and fireplace kindling, or lost in computer crashes. Sometimes they’re right.

SOFcover2014Since the writing that writers write is more often than not sitting in a DOC file on a computer’s hard drive, you’d think we’d backup our work every night with the same diligence that we run the dishwasher, turn off the lights and lock the front door.

Flash drives that hold zillions of words make that so easy to do. But suppose somebody–possibly me–was really on a roll while writing a comedy mystery about a reporter looking for a race horse on a new computer. (Actually, Jock was looking for the horse at a racetrack and an abandoned farm.)

So, this writer writes way past the ending of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire and before he knows what’s happening, he’s 30% into the sequel to be called Jock Stewart and the Bambi Diaries.

He copies the words belonging to the first novel into another file and sends it to the publisher. He hasn’t backed anything up yet be cause the computer is relatively new. While the publisher looks at the sea of fire book, he adds more to the Bambi diaries book.

Then the relatively new computer has a head crash. No software on the face of the earth is able to retrieve the document holding the sequel to Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.

I was so deep into the continuing story that I never took the five minutes necessary to insert a flash drive and backup the sequel. And, I never was able to get back in the groove enough to re-create it.

So now, everything is backed up a hundred ways to Sunday even if it’s a Tuesday. There may be a lesson here, but I’m thinking it’s probably too obvious to point out.

Malcolm

While Malcolm R. Campbell did not become the author of “Jock Stewart and the Bambi Diaries,” he did write other stuff before the computer ate it.