No, We Don’t

Every so often, I’m struck by the impulse to collect examples of one thing or another that annoys me or strikes me as particularly stupid. For a while, I was copying sentences from authors’ book descriptions on Smashwords. I had quite a good batch of the garbled, the self-congratulatory, and the just plain insane, but finally chucked it all. What would be the point of it?

But the impulse never dies, it seems. I’m not going to make a collection this time, just present an example and let it go. “We’ve all seen the ads for the new book When She Woke (by Hilary Jordan), a futuristic novel in which a criminal’s skin is dyed to reflect her crime, a story that’s been compared to the classic,The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.”

The significant part is “We’ve all seen  . . .” It could be “We all know,”  or “We’ve all done this,” whatever this is supposed to be. And my first response is always “No, we haven’t all done this, thought that, wished this, seen that, wanted this.

I have no idea who Hilary Jordan is, never heard of her novel, and if the ads have come in front of my eyes, they’ve never registered. And I’m probably not alone. There is probably nothing on earth we “all” do except eat, breath, and eventually die. I’ve seen rationalizations for this collectivity mindset, but all it is, really, is a lazy cliché that writers seem to think makes them deep thinkers or makes them companions in some smarmy or stupid thing that we all do. But we all know that, don’t we?

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7 thoughts on “No, We Don’t

  1. Here’s dumb: The writer puts something in the ‘short’ description and then repeats it in ‘long’ description. Talk about wasted advertising space. This goof is enough to make me hit the back arrow. I know instantly that I am not looking at the sharpest tool in the shed.

    1. Well, I have to confess to having done exactly that with both of my novels. Does that mean there’s no way you’ll read them? But I agree, in general. I may go back and change that some day, but I don’t consider it the most important thing when considering whether I’ll read a novel. If the long description is just a repeat of the short one, with nothing added to tell me more about the book, that’s dumb. And there are certainly a lot of those on Smashwords. If the long description adds enough to entice me, I don’t really care if part of it repeats the short one.

  2. Ah, you’re like me and pick up on phrases and so on and pick ’em to pieces. I do that. Not publically (well, not usually). How about ‘this book’. Is there some way we can replace ‘this book’ in a preface or on a cover – of any book, really. I mean, if it’s not about ‘this book’ what book is it about?

    1. Hmm. Meaningless abstractions that become cliches is one way to look at it. I prefer to use the title or a reference to the author — “X’s novel is annoyingly stupid.” The question of ‘which book’ if not this one is maybe a bit too subtle for most people to notice. It isn’t grammatically incorrect, so does that make us style nazis?

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