Is it Crap? part 5

A very very brave Snarkling offers up this:

"Success does have its privileges." John Connor smiled to himself as he looked over the cheering crowd. They waited anxiously to hear what the young pastor of the fastest growing church in Texas had to say. Pastors twenty years his senior hoped to glean something from his words that would help them see their churches grow, even if they couldn't experience his phenomenal success.

John didn't disappoint. "Many of you want to know how to make your church grow like mine has," he began. "My first suggestion is to put it in an area that is about to have a population explosion." He smiled at the laughter that rolled across the auditorium. Connor knew that many people attributed the growth his church had experienced solely to the population growth in the Southwest Dallas area, and most not very kindly at that.

Having disarmed his critics immediately, Connor continued, "But if all you have is a building, you'll never have a church, let alone a growing church. You need to make sure that you build the church on the foundation of Jesus Christ!" His voice became more intense. "While the growth in numbers is exciting, what is even more exciting is to see how each member is growing and being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ."

Connor then went on to explain that he saw his success not in the huge numbers of new members, but in the changed lives of his new members. He told of a young man with four arrests in the past and even now on probation that turned to Jesus because a friend invited him to a Youth Activity. Forty people including his father and a teacher had turned to Jesus because of his influence. "One person took the initiative to talk to a friend he cared about in spite of legal and drug problems and God has worked a miracle in forty-one lives." He turned and pointed to a young man sitting on the platform. "Excuse me. Mike, including me and that friend -forty-three lives." The crowd demanded that Mike stand and John urged him to acknowledge the crowd."You're not finished yet, are you, Mike?" The camera for the giant screens zoomed in on Mike as he smiled shyly and shook his head.

John waited until the applause died down. "Mike told me earlier that he isn't finished because God isn't finished. As you look at your own lives, how many of you can say that you're living as if God isn't finished yet?" John's words echoed throughout a hushed auditorium. For too many people, those words hit closer to home than was comfortable..

He continued to tell of lives changed, marriages saved, children reclaimed and a community of Christians who were excited about what God was doing. The light on the podium changed to yellow just as John began winding down.

"I'm a science fiction fan and I saw a DVD recently called "Galaxy Quest" They faced impossible odds and prevailed because they were reminded of their motto. I leave you today with the motto of the crew on "Galaxy Quest" 'Never give up, never surrender.' When the odds are against you....." he pointed to the crowd to get them to respond; a few did. "Never give up, never surrender. When the devil is attacking....," he waited for the crowd and they responded with,
"Never give up, never surrender."

This writing illustrates the critical importance of your cover letter. In the email that came with it there is no hint of WHAT this is: fiction, non fiction, a call to arms at the local church.

If I read this without any clues, I'd think it was a non fiction guide to building a church. If it's fiction, there's a LOT of TELLING rather than showing for example: "Having disarmed his critics immediately, Connor continued" rather than showing us the critics different response after hearing him speak. And: "For too many people, those words hit closer to home than was comfortable" tells us rather than shows us.

And if it IS fiction, I'd be hoping it's supposed to be funny cause otherwise the idea of seriously quoting a movie that is a parody of Star Trek would elevate Miss Snarks carefully plucked eyebrow.

This would be a no from me.


Finch said...

You mention that the query for this project did not represent the project itself very well. On average, how well would you say most folks do at writing a query that accurately reflects the work they wish to submit? Do you often find that the manuscript veers far from the terrain mapped by the query? And, if so, do you mind?

Miss Snark said...

What I meant to convey was that the cover letter for the project should tell an agent what is being sent. Most people get that right.

Where people screw up is :
"fictional novel"
"serio-comic novel"
and "fictional memoir".

None of those things actually exist.
Further explanation available on request.

Finch said...

Thanks for your response. I guess I'm wondering how often a manuscript you request turns out to be drastically different from what the query led you to expect, so different that it makes you wonder if you've received the correct manuscript.

PS Ah, the fabled "fictional novel." My students love that one, and after asking them why I've learned that many of them consider "book" and "novel" interchangable, which is also why they refer to academic texts as "novels" in their essays.

Miss Snark said...

Ah yes, I have a category for those novels. They are "what the hell were you thinking!!!" (exclamation points are important for statistical purposes. Ten ! means I need to read some Hemingway and tune up my eyeballs. Three or four! mean I probably was just tired).

It happens, but not often. Some of it is because I WAS deranged when I read the query but a lot of it is that the whammo, grab you by the gut and drag you around by the hair opening is the only arrow in the writer's quiver.

Anonymous said...

The key that would tell me this passage is fiction lies in the first paragraph: "John Connor smiled to himself..." Most nonfiction writers, I would guess, come up through journalism or some academic discipline or other, and along the way they learn that you can't enter a subject's mind when you are reporting actual events--unless that subject, through his or her letters, diaries, or notes in a bottle grant you entrance.

Of course, that's a big assumption considering the state of education and literacy these days.

Anonymous said...

I was bored after the first two paragraphs.

rosemerry said...

It was actually a bit interesting until the Galaxy Quest paragraph. That ruined it for me and I would probably put the book down.