Crapometer volunteer #6

It was an invitation from a sword.

She almost hit delete. Spam sometimes evaded her filter for nubile schoolgirls, viagra-on-line, watches on e-bay and the rest of the rubbish.

One thing moved the arrow down the screen: her name and title in the header: "Dr. D.D. Tempest: Forensic Consultant."

Point and click.
Not spam. They had even spelled her name right.

On behalf of the Conyers Foundation a Cordial invitation was extended to Dr. Damery Tempest to participate in a symposium and documentary on the Conyers Falchion. A brief summary of the Conyers Legend was attached. See Attachment One.

Her Unique expertise in Myth, religion and occultology would provide Essential substance to the Success of the project. A list of experts in various fields who had already agreed to take part and lend their Valuable insights was included. See Attachment Two.


She didn't recognize any of the names listed - but that was no surprise. She had little contact with anything seriously academic for a number of years. They represented a variety of disciplines, from historical geography to medieval weaponry to cryptozoology.

Acceptance would involve a one to two week commitment. The symposium would be held in Darlington, England. The fee proferred was astonishingly fat. Not plump. Fat. Almost obese. The conference was scheduled for the last week in April and would run into the first week in May.

The captials resumed. A faxed or emailed acceptance would be Quite satisfactory and followed immediately by a more Detailed itinerary and description of the project, as well as Essential information regarding travel arrangements and accommodation. They would be Most happy to add her to the list of Distinquished participants for this Significant historical documentary. A list of Patrons of the Foundation was also included. See Attachment Three...The email positively beamed.

Damie coiled her hair on top of her head, laced her fingers over it and sat back in her chair.

Miss Snark stands on a chair and screams.
The only thing worse than e-queries are reading about people reading their emails. I'd rather watch paint dry.

You have to GRAB OUR INTEREST. At this point we are reading email. Unless Mr. George Clooney's face is lipsyncing the words, I'm soooooo not grabbed.

Also: you've got an attack of the "had" - to wit: "They had even spelled her name right" . Leaner prose: "they even spelled her name right" or better "they spelled her name right".

There are much more enticing ways to have someone get invited to a symposium that is clearly Not What It Says It Is. Find one. Use it. Otherwise it's the dreaded "not quite right" form letter.


Erin said...

Maybe I'm just boring. I've been known to watch paint dry to make sure it matches the vision I've formed in my mind. Other than the typo "captials," I thought this was an interesting opening. I want to read the rest.

Guess that's why I'm a reader, not an agent.

Miss Snark said...

Agent's opinions vary too! What I think is the equivilent of paint drying is someone else's riveting interest. My rejection letters encourage most queriers to query other agents for just that reason. Sometimes I leave that line off if the work is just beyond hope....but even that is still subjective!

Anonymous said...

Sweet. Kisses.
The "capitals" are not typos. They were intended as a mild clue to the character of the letter writer, hired by the conference.

Erin said...

Anon, I didn't think the capitals were typos. But on the blog, it was misspelled "captials." That was what I was referring to.

melinama said...

Hi Ms Snark, here is your non-novel-writing new fan again, I've been reading the August archive and want to say you're providing these folks an amazing service. Hope they're not too attached to their crap to hear what you're saying. This is a generous undertaking!

Chrystalline said...

Personal opinion (though, like Erin - not an agent;)

Line one grabbed me - from a sword? What? I want to know what that means. I'm having fantasy genre ideas here - maybe a talking sword? Arthurian legends?

The next paragraph was still okay, because it lets me know it's modern day real-world and we can identify with that - we all have spam that escapes the filter sometimes - and I was looking for more information about that first line. The rest of it dragged too long and went into too much unneccessary detail. You don't have to quote every red flag; we're mostly familiar with the process.

Though I never figured out what was meant by "from a sword" - am I just being dense?

Anonymous said...

One thing that made me blink as an Englishman was the fact that the symposium is happening in Darlington. A town not exactly synonymous with deep academia - no offence intended to the people of Darlington, of course. In the same way as my town of York isn't synonymous with kickin' club scene.

Now, I haven't a clue how this is all going to pan out. I've no idea whether your British, American, Australian or what. So it might be exactly right that said conference is taking place somewhere so unlikely.

But, as a British reader, it makes me go "Darlington?! Okaaaay..."