The Second Most Fascinating Kickstarter Pitch Video Of All Time

One of the most important parts of being a writer is being able to judge the reaction of a reader. Often you can’t even see the person reading your work, so usually this is an exercise in imagination and empathy. Writers need this skill on many levels: on the sentence level (CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY COMPUTER?), on the page by page level (Do the actions of a story flow naturally?), and on the big picture level (Is this actually a good idea I have?).

Gregory Scott has the advantage of having a potential reader directly in front of him during the Kickstarter pitch video for his novel “The Oldest Sentury.”

Scott needs $30,000 to publish is book The Oldest Sentury. He needs the cash to pay his aunt (a romance writer consultant), an editor, a cover illustrator, and himself for marketing. But the biggest thing he needs is the ability to read Amber’s reactions.

What results is the second most fascinating Kickstarter pitch video ever. (Second only to TERESA SERENITY HANDS ARE FOR LOVING.)

Amber seems pretty excited to help out with this project at first. She hasn’t heard anything about the book yet, and Scott is about to introduce it to her and us at the same time:

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And then Scott mentions what the book is about: “It’s a fictional story about the centurion soldier who stabbed Jesus Christ while he was on the cross.”

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Apparently the Bible says that when the soldier stabs Christ, “blood and water” came out of the wound. In Gregory Scott’s fictional retelling, the soldier is covered with the blood and water, ends up ingesting it, and becomes immortal. Fast forward to the present, and the soldier is 2035 years old:

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Here Amber struggles valiantly to express support and interest, while her eyes to the side and forced smile reveal exactly how uncomfortable she is.

The only thing that can kill the soldier, apparently, is the spear itself. It’s a cursed spear.

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That’s the moment when Amber realizes she’s made a terrible decision.

Scott continues. The centurion accumulates wealth, and by 2013 he has over $40 billion dollars and is one of the wealthiest men in the world.

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He buys up failed pharmaceutical companies “on the cheap,” mixes his blood and some water with bad medicine, and the medicine starts healing people. Any questions, Amber?

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Negative.

Scott then goes on to give a summary of the first chapter, which involves a massacre at a pharmaceutical company. 15 people are found slaughtered in a warehouse but there are no bullets (even after the cops hear massive gunfire) and two people are left alive.

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One is the multi-billionaire and the other is his personal doctor.

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The billionaire bleeds out. The doctor survives.

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Turns out, the doctor is the centurion.

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And the dead billionaire?

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He’s the centurion’s 375 year-old son.

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O.M.G.

The cops then tell the doctor he has some ‘splaining to do. We got 16 dead bodies.

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So the doctor sits down and says wait, wait, wait. I gotta tell this story from the beginning so that it’s real long, long enough to be a novel.

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And THAT’S the novel. The CENTURION IS the NARRATOR. So whaddya think, Amber?

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Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

And when it’s all over, look how happy she is to go home!

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OH THANK CHRIST IT’S OVER.

As you can imagine, the response has been tepid to say the least. Just one backer so far. But there’s still time…and as we all know…miracles do happen. Womp womp.

Oh, and if that pitch video wasn’t enough for you, check out an additional four minutes of footage Scott had to cut:

Fad Fiction

sting

Author John DeWitt has good marketing instincts; his project Opal Stone Trilogy Project is attempting to cash in on the Hobbit fervor that is sure to surface over the next few weeks. DeWitt is writing a trilogy of e-books that will chronicle the history of Sting, Bilbo Baggins’ legendary dagger.

Initially I was going to lampoon DeWitt for his pitch video, which was a video of him stroking his two little dogs and talking into the camera in a vague way about the project, but as you can see, he’s replaced it with this masterpiece:

So I was forced to dig a little deeper. I didn’t have to dig very deep. The first sentence on the project page amazes:

When the animated version of The Hobbit came out in the 1970s I was amazed.

Hmm…he does realizes it was a book first, right? Either way, DeWitt is clearly very excited about this project:

Set in Middle Earth, The Opal Stone Trilogy includes a dwarf Prince, an elf Princess and her Master of Arms as well as wizards, cannibalistic witches, dragons, giants and more!

And if you were worried about writer’s block preventing the completion of this project, worry not:

I have no problem coming up with content for the story. I even went so far as to read a book about how JK Rawlings develped her characters in the Harry Potter juggernaut.

Whew. That’s a relief.

What is a worry, however, are DeWitt’s editing skills. Check the first sentence on his blog:

6,000 years before the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins came across the magical sword, Sting.

Is that before The Hobbit the book or the animated movie? Or is this just a punctuation error? I’m pretty sure there’s just a missing comma or two, but on first read I found myself wondering whether Bilbo was 6000 years old when he discovered Sting. And if there are commas misplaced, then that would make this a sentence fragment: not a good way to start.

DeWitt clearly has an interesting idea for a project, but his video replacement, the Updates which suggest that he did work on the cover art for the book after launching the Kickstarter project, and the sentence errors suggest that he hasn’t put enough time into this yet: This shit is half-baked and not ready for primetime Kickstarter just yet.

He’s not totally unaware, though; he recognizes some of the limitations he faces:

My wife thinks I should just do the illustrations but, since I want to have it all finished before Christmas, I have serious time constraints.

Yes, some serious time constraints indeed.

The Invisible Hand Beats Back

Some people believe e-books are going to send the quality of literature down the drain, but I have more faith in the invisible hand. I’m confident that the invisible hand will maintain rigorous control over the markets. Sure, every now and then one or two books are going to slip by, but these are exceptions to the rule, and they operate with massive advertisement campaigns that skew market controls and common sense.

Kickstarter proves that people know bad books when they see them. If you dig deep into the site – and Kickstarter makes it really, really difficult to do this (for a good reason, I might add) – you’ll find dozens of writers who are asking people to give them tens of thousands of dollars to produce a work of fiction that is not only based on an asinine idea but is also one that they have yet to start: I imagine that most of these writers couldn’t even finish the project even if they did get funded. And if they were able to complete it, I have complete confidence that it would be almost unreadable.

Sadly, one of these projects is Memloch by Peter Barnes, who has received no support over the first week of his campaign to raise $20,000. Unbeknownst to the Kickstarter community, Barnes has written one of the most glorious sentences in the history of the English language in his Kickstarter introduction. Let me break it down for you clause by sweet clause:

Based on the dystheistic belief that not only is God not wholly good, but that he might even be evil,

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Lemme get my dictionary out. Is “dystheistic” even a real word? It is? Well played, Peter Barnes. Well played.

the main concept of this work is rooted in the idea of “god as the devil,”

*Brain explosion*

and the plot accordingly centers around the sadistic, misanthropic, and misotheistic antihero called Memloch,

*Scrambles back to the dictionary* Yes, “misotheistic” is also a word, and it means “to hate God/gods.” Touché, mon frère. However, Barnes doesn’t know he’s about to enter a world of grammatical pain…

whom, although unbeknownst to himself, is actually God, in the form of a man,

BOOM. Barnes is so correct with his usage of “whom” he’s HYPERCORRECT.

and whom, under the exorbitant pressure of being the sole ruler of the universe, has suffered a complete mental break,

DOUBLE HYPERCORRECTION! Whom let this Barnes guy near a computer?

and in his madness, falls from his heavenly throne, and wanders the earth with no memory of his true identity,

At least this fictional God would have forgotten he’d been created by a grammatical hypercorrector.

thereby allowing the darker, more sinister aspects of his nature (which he formally made a conscious effort to suppress, as best he could) to be expressed unchecked.

Whew.

To watch Barnes read this sentence off a giant piece of posterboard right behind the camera, check out the video (and I think you can catch the cameraman yawning at 0:25, right in the middle of the sentence):

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Barnes’ description of the novel as a whole:

MEMLOCH is a highly rhetorical, subversive, black humor, surrealistic, semi-linear, semi-narrative, anti-novel.

I’m anti-semi-confused (translation: I’m very confused).

If you’re interested in checking out Barnes’ work, you should probably go straight to his homepage at Infernal Books where you can PayPal him some cash because it doesn’t look like Kickstarter is going to work out for him. He has nine other books in planning in case he gets tired of working on Memloch.