Mad Lib Blurbs

This may come as a surprise to people who know me, but I am rarely convinced I know what I am doing.  This despite having done quite a number of things with competence, including writing and publishing books, learning a new sport in my 40s and becoming nationally and internationally competitive in it, earning a PhD, raising a child, teaching science, computers, English, and math, and chairing a department.  That’s all well and good, some part of my brain says, but you’ve been faking it all along; other people may have impostor syndrome, but I really am a fake.  However, I figure that if some of the people I know can be writers, maybe it’s not impossible.

Therefore, with nothing to lose, now that I’m retired, I have been working on being a writer, even if I don’t really believe in myself.  For the past week or so, I have been allocating two hours a day for writing and an hour a day for what I call “the business of writing.”  I finished a second draft of one novel, I’m outlining a second novel about the same characters, and I have been doggedly reading through a Writer’s Digest and learning Scrivener properly.

At one point, this second novel was partially drafted, but somehow I lost every computer file and have only my (long, detailed) typed outline and a whole bunch of background information about characters.  I have no idea what I did to delete the chapters I wrote, but they are nowhere.  The funny thing is that I am not particularly disturbed by the loss, because I visualized every chapter rather thoroughly and right now I could write it from my notes and my memory.  But I want it to be better than it was the first time, so I’ve been using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson to tighten up the outline.

One of the first things he suggests is to write a one-sentence description of the book.  He suggests going to the New York Times Best Seller list and using those sentences as models.  I dutifully did so.  Because I taught grammar for so long, I turned the candidate sentences into grammatical formulas and wrote those out.  For instance, Foreign Agent by Brad Thor is described as follows:

The counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath searches for an informant who compromised an American mission in Syria.

Which comes out as:

The (adjective) (noun) (appositive proper noun) (verbs) (prepositional phrase) (relative pronoun) (verbed) an (adjective) (noun) (prepositional phrase).

And Here’s to Us by Erin Hildebrand is:

Sparks fly as a celebrity chef’s ex-wives pile into a small cabin in Nantucket to join his widow for the reading of his will.

which is:

(Nouns) (verb) as an (adjective) (possessive noun’s) (nouns) (verb) (prepositional phrase) (prepositional phrase) (infinitive) (object of infinitive) (prepositional phrase) (prepositional phrase.)

Yes, I’m a nerd.  But I came up with a nice little blurb as a result of my nerdery:

With their school under attack by anxious modern-day gods, a muddled English teacher and her quarrelsome students are the school’s only defense, for better or worse.  

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