The correct answers
Many of you guessed that one of the sentences I'd made up was No 22:
"The Extremely Envious Elf: Ernie is an Elf. Even though he has lots of possessions, he's always envious of everyone. One day, he meets a Pixie, (Percy) who is crying and Ernie learns that actually he's a very lucky Elf and he stops being envious. This is, I feel, a lesson which children do need to learn these days. Also, I have chosen names for the characters which will help children learn the sounds of letters, thus helping them improve their reading. For example, Envious Ernie and Percy the Pixie. There are others."Now, ok, it might have seemed obviously rubbish. As Rik cleverly pointed out, it couldn't actually have been genuine because it would be too identifiable and I'd hate to ruin the chances of the brilliant author of such a stunning idea by enabling all of you to steal the concept, as I'm sure you would love to do. Seriously, though, this is just the sort of "plot" that is offered to agents and publishers on a regular basis. I have been sent several Percy the Pixie ideas myself and I'm not even an agent or publisher. And such authors always labour the moral message and all the "learning potential" of their stories. These are the sort of stories Enid Blyton might have written as a joke when suffering from a very high fever at the age of 8.
I am very proud of the fact that NONE of you guessed my other made-up extract. It was No. 4:
"I recommend that you also try to sell Animation Film Rights as I feel that my story has real potential in that area. I am happy to offer these rights to you for your use, subject to an agreement between us, which I am confident will be forthcoming."
Again, this is something that aspiring authors very often do talk about. Which is why you obviously didn't realise I made it up. Hehe. As you very well know, giving professional advice to the potential agent or publisher is absolutely not the right thing to do.
I noticed that vast numbers of you thought it was No. 6:
"I know you ask for a synopsis but I've found that such a thing rather defeats the purpose of sending sample chapters and tends to be an unwelcome exercise for all concerned."Yep, hard to believe, but true. I've seen similar excuses for not writing synopses. And things along the lines of "I know this is what your submission guidelines say but I have decided instead to ..."
A lot of you also thought that No 18 must be made up:
"I have printed a copy of the book, complete with 289 illustrations, from my Toshiba Satellite with Windows Vista with an Hewlett Packard all-in-one printer (jpeg prints)."I know - the mind boggles as to what this person was thinking at the moment of writing that. We'll never know.
Apart from my sneaky No. 4, there were several others which none of you opted for. You are obviously becoming wise to the extent of absurdity of some unpublished authors and it no longer surprises you that anyone would do any of the following:
- write nonsense badly: "I have put my properties in approximate order of commerciality, I hope this is as convenient as your stated preference"
- not be able to write a proper sentence: "I feel with a little investment by an agent could really have an impact on the Children's writing world."
- criticise a whole swathe of published literature: "I have not enclosed any synopsis but I will say that my work does not include any monsters or magic or cruel adults, unlike all the other children's books you see nowadays."
- write a drivellingly powerless reason for reading on: "My writing activates pure imagination and fun and I have tested them on some children and they have really loved them. A few adults have too."
The worthy recipients are:
- Rik - for perspicacity (see above)
- Melinda - because I liked her explanation for her choices: "because they were well written and made sense so were obviously fake"
- The Proe - for the irony in his response: "I know you asked for a tie-breaker recommendation but I've found that such a thing tends to be an unwelcome exercise for all concerned and would not truthfully convey the full impact of my choices and liverwurst."
- Catdownunder - for choosing to recommend one of my own books ... ( I did expect a lot more crawling from the rest of you actually, but there we go - you'll know for next time)
Next, I am going to be going on and on and on and on and on and on about a topic dear to my heart: over-writing. That's when writers go on and on and on when they should have stopped long before. And when they get above themselves and full of themselves and up themselves and think that everyone really wants to hang around listening to their glossy, sensuous, gorgeous, sinuous prose and they play with similes like a siamese with a shrew, and load their sentences with alliteration and assonance and all aspects of authorial artfulness.
And their readers couldn't give a damn and just want to know what happens.