By Mike Baron, Writer of Nexus and Badger.
AT THE DOG PARK
The dog park is three acres of enclosed wood chips on which dogs like to dine, from which we can see Long’s Peak gleaming in the sunlight. Long’s Peak is over fourteen thousand feet and sixty miles away. People die every year on Long’s Peak because they think it’s an easy climb. I don’t know why they think that.
The more dogs, the more activity. A half dozen or less encourages sloth and introspection but when the mutts mount up, so do the dogs! They circle like a large Hadron Collider attracting other dogs as small planets snagged by gravity, usually in a counter-clockwise direction. Archimedes observed how a whirlpool of dogs sucks in all other dogs.
I am down to two dogs following the passing of the immortal Bob. Freddie and Mack LOVE big balls. You wouldn’t think a twenty-pound dog could get a soccer ball in her mouth. WRONGGGGG! This dude brings a giant knot to the playground and the dogs go berserk, especially Freddie and Mack who are obsessed with BIG BALLS. The giant knot is just that—an inch thick hauser twisted into a five pound sphere with two ropes running out the poles. Dude tossed the giant knot and Mack got there first. Gripping the hauser in her steel trap jaws, she led a dozen dogs on a deranged dervish in the dirt to the detriment of none.
This morning at the park I met a guy named Rod. I told him I wrote comics and he told me that his grandfather, Milton Wohl, was one of the original Fleischer Brothers animators in Florida, and had worked on the early Popeye and Woody Woodpecker cartoons. In the Army during World War II, Wohl’s bunkmates were Charles Addams and Bill Mauldin.
You meet interesting people at the dog park.
People often say to me, “I have a terrific idea for a novel! I’ll tell it to you, you write it, and we’ll split the profits!” After I am done kicking them in the nuts, I say, “What is your novel about?”
“Well it’s about a prince, or maybe he’s just a duke, who lives in a country that’s sort of like Switzerland, only with elves. And there are some dragons. And a princess.” At this stage I nod and pass out.
When people ask you what your novel, or movie, or comic is about you must be able to tell them in a brief and exciting manner. A gleaming nugget of concise enthusiasm. One of the oldest stories in Hollywood was the pitch for Star Trek. “Wagon Train in space.” This may or may not be true, but it illustrates succinctly what the show is about. You don’t have to boil it down to four words. A paragraph will do. But your paragraph is just as much an advertisement for your novel as the novel itself. It must intrigue and excite. Once you’re committed to your idea, your first priority should be distilling that hard little nugget of information.
People ask me what my novels are about. Helmet Head: Nazi biker zombies. Whack Job: Spontaneous human combustion and alien invasion. Biker: hard-boiled biker gang crime. Skorpio: A ghost who only appears under a blazing sun. These brief descriptions are not meant as cover blurbs. Cover blurbs are a bit longer and go into more detail. But the nuggets themselves are enough to excite interest. Nazi biker zombies is only three words yet it leaves no doubt as to the nature of the story. Let the reader discover the beauty of your words, the subtlety of your characters’ relationships and wisdom as they read your book. The point is to hook them. The point is to sound like these guys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQRtuxdfQHw
You want your description to sound the way these guys talk.