Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post by JD Savage: Put this in your next book

Today, fantasy author JD Savage will be providing his unique take on things as part of the first ever Literary Plus Blog Tour!

Literary+ is a writer based project brought together and lead by Shen Hart. It brings together passionate, quality self-published writers to help each other promote their work, bringing more readers to every member. It was sparked by the simple fact that there are many top quality self-published authors being over-looked because they do not have the time and resources to efficiently and effectively market and promote themselves. With ambition and passion, Literary+ will take its members to the heights they deserve through a tight-knit community of like-minded writers.

"Put this in your next book" 
How to deal with those helpful friends

When I was in my 20s, I was a bar manager for a comedy club. It was a busy place, with many of the comedy stars you see today working out their material as unknowns. I got the chance to meet and hang out with many of these guys, (they were mostly guys), at the bar after their sets. As in most situations where alcohol flows freely, people like to talk. Many of them were tortured souls with tragic back stories, and all of them had a list of pet peeves about being a comic on the road. At the top of every list, though, was the same thing. People who wanted them to listen to a joke to “use in your act”.

They all hated that. What made it really bad was that it usually came from friends or family members, people they didn’t really want to hurt or insult. They all had different ways of dealing with it, but their approaches fell into a few common categories. More on that in a minute.

When my first novel, “The Seeds” was published, I naturally wanted to tell everyone who would listen about it. I wanted to get them excited about it and hopefully get them to tell their friends. The responses I got from these encounters fell into a few common categories, as well.

Most people are polite, but in any protracted conversation, what a human really wants to talk about is their own self. This leads, inevitably to the declaration of “I should write a book”, or “Listen to this, you can use this in your next book”.

Sometimes, these stories are really funny. These are few and far between. Mostly, I hear stories that are at turns tragic, mildly humorous or so benign that I am left wondering why they felt that this was a story good enough to tell, let alone why they would think anyone would want to read it.

What I learned from the comedians all those years ago still holds up in these cases, and I refer back to those conversations quite a bit. The categories are: a) Thanks and Ignore, b) Thanks and Change, c) Deflect, and d) The Body Slam. Never once did I hear of a comedian using a story that someone had told them in their act. Use at your discretion.

The Thanks and Ignore was by far the most common. This consisted of pretending to listen to the story, chuckling at all of the appropriate moments, and then promptly forgetting it as soon as possible.

The Thanks and Change approach happened when the story teller used a word or phrase that the listener found interesting. The rest of the story was ignored, as the comic re-wrote a story or joke that was actually funny based on that snippet. The resulting bit usually bore little to no resemblance to the original.

The Deflect was practiced by those who had been around for a while. They had learned the hard lesson of paying too close attention to people who wanted to help them in their act. The price to be paid was always time and the person expecting to be included or referenced in the act. They had learned to deflect the story teller onto another tangent, (one that opened the door of escape for the comedian), thereby short-circuiting the conversation. “… so, by the time I got to the junkyard… Time? Hey, look at the time… I gotta go. Remember to tell me the rest of this story later, ok?”

And, finally, d) The Body Slam. I don’t recommend this approach for any but the most practiced put-down artist. This approach consisted of the comedian waiting patiently for the story-teller to say or do something that the comedian could seize upon, and then use it to verbally body slam them into submission. They would be treated the way a veteran comic treats a heckler. Quickly, meanly and with prejudice. There is no coming back from the Body Slam. That person won’t offer you more stories, but they probably won’t be buying any of your books, either. “…so, then my mother said… That’s not what she said to me last night when I was…” You get the idea.

The key to remember here is that most people really want to be as famous or as dedicated to something as you are. They want to glean a little of your best quality, (being focused enough to actually finish a book), for themselves. Or, they want to be applauded and mentioned as a cause of your fame. They want you, o fabulous author, to appreciate them. When you really think about it, it’s kind of an honor that they think enough of you to want to bask in your glow.

Or, they are just self-absorbed buttheads. You decide.

JD has worked with some of the finest high technology teams in the business, and has delivered to some of the world's most recognizable companies the high quality graphics & multimedia they demand, all over the world.. As an author, JD hopes to bring his unique ideas to life in this medium. A visitor to his studio office will be treated to the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Sheryl Crow, Kate Bush and traditional Celtic music. Jeff resides an hour north of Manhattan, N.Y. with his wife and two children.

Blurb for "The Seeds" :

This is not your grandmother's fairy tale. A fantasy novel that turns the genre on its head, "The Seeds" follows Trooper Angus Mayweather as he is thrust into the conflict faced by twin sisters Dartura & Varia, Generals of the Tarol Nation. As the sisters uncover a new threat from an old enemy, Angus must do what he can to help as the Tarol Nation faces all-out war.

Relevant Links: Where to buy: "The Seeds"
Website: www.jdsavage.com
Writer's Blog: Tarol Nation
G+ profile: JD Savage

Previous Stop on the Blog Tour:  "Profanity in YA" hosted by Scott Roche 
Next Stop on the Blog Tour: "The Sequel- how much from the previous book is too much" hosted by Masha Du Toit 


  1. Brilliant! I've had someone tell me whole stories, while he was off-his-face drunk, and end with, "You can put that in your next book." Sometimes I think, "Well, I could, if it would fit." Most recently I responded with, "You know I write more than just the little anecdotes you tell me, right?" And proceeded to tell him about the things he didn't know I'd written.

    Nice post, JD, and good set up Allisyn! :)

  2. Awesome post JD - nicely put together Allisyn.

    Fortunately no-one's tried to tell me 'put that in your next book' but I quite known as a cut-down artist. I don't take any messing so people rather bother to try!

    This is a great article dealing with something most authors have to deal with at some point. You offer awesome points on handling a potentially awkward situation.

  3. I know a delightful woman from my hometown that would use putting someone in her books as a threat! I love that approach very much. "Hey, yeah! I'll totally put you/that in my next book, but I can't guarantee you'll like it. bwahaha!!" ;)

    Great post. I'm usually the Thank You and ignore type.