Give me verbs or die!

Miss Snark is in the slush pile again.
What is it with you guys?

Was there a sale on adjectives at Saks?
If I read one more description of a character in a cover letter I will scream.
Who CARES what color hair someone has???

The point of a cover letter is to entice someone to read. That means ACTION.
What happens to the blue eyed blonde in the hot red convertible? If you don't
give me action, my response is "so what" and your response is a flat little envelope that says "no thanks".

Return those adjectives and invest in some verbs.


Unknown said...

People are really using adjectives in queries? I've yet to write a single query and I thought it common sense that the manuscript does the talking... and the query does the walking.

Shadow said...


What makes you think that it's Snarkling stuff you're reading? We true Snarklings know better than to send you a boring query letter.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Anybody wanna' buy a vowel...O my!

Another thing worth getting rid of is 'ly' adverbs!

occasional_anonymous said...

Personally, I get my adjectives from Wal-Mart. They may be shorter, but you get more for your money.

Anonymous said...

Yup. That's exactly what the editor of my first novel said. "Strong nouns, strong verbs." Now, I am watchful of every descriptive word that I type in an ms.

Anonymous said...

Ralph likes a good laugh. His vacation begins with a practical joke on the owners of Travelers Trailers mobile home. What he doesn’t know is that for the next two weeks they are the ones who are laughing as they set their sights on hunting him down.

Marty and Beth Stills are ordinary caretakers of a semi-retirement home for out of luck travelers. They take their jobs very seriously and don’t have time for practical jokes. It doesn’t take much for them to put away their trophy game when hunting the idiots who don’t take them serious.

Ralph’s joke explodes into terror as he is chased across two states by a pair of seventy-year-old psychopaths. His only chance of survival is to stop laughing and get serious. He doesn’t have much time left, because Marty and Beth are getting closer by the mile.

Jillian said...

Dear Mr. Snark:

The Fastest Race Ever Toward Death is a breath-taking, action-packed romance fiction novel that you simply must read!!

Carly Hotloins is a twenty-three-year-old college graduate who has just dyed her hair auburn after several years of struggling with what color was right for her. When she meets Bane Flame, the new firefighter on the committee for saving the endangered species of fish in nearby Swan Lake, Carly realizes that she has met her match. When Bane's half-crazed, size-four ex-wife shows up unexpectedly and suddenly, weilding a long, bloody lance and chewing wildly and passionately on a wad of lime-green bubblegum, Carly and Bane are thrust into a perilous and terrifyingly frightening adventure. Little do they know that there is nothing but death -- bleak, dark, black, endless, eternal death -- at the end of it.

My romance fiction novel boasts 132,650 words and has been professionally printed at Kinkos on Pale Laser Lemon, high-quality paper. The Fastest Race Ever Toward Death is going to sell more copies than DaVinci Code and Harry Potter combined, so please respond to this query within forty-eight hours.

Very sincerely yours truly,

Z. Bestevah

Miss Snark said...

Jillian, why are you printing copies of my actual query letters in your comment?

Oh, wait, you thought you made that up?

The only difference between what you wrote and what I'm looking at here is that Z. Bestevah is also a Ph.D and calls herself Dr. AND has her alma mater printed on her letter head.

Mr. Snark indeed. Where is the fumigator.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Snark...humph! Now there is a good way to piss off the flame-haired agent. I bet she batted her black eyelashes in purple rage. Those tight leopard skin capri pants must have crawled up past her muscular calves as she ran to the terrace to search for Killer Yapp, in hopes he might agree to bite the knees of any one thinking she wasn't a Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

Jesus wept.

Jillian said...


And if that's the case, then my real query surely has a fighting chance. Why, I never mention my PhD, real or imagined, until my material is requested.

I've toyed with perhaps writing my query by hand in calligraphy with scented India ink. But I suppose you've already found that in your query pile, too.

emeraldcite said...

The exclamation points (not just one, but two!!) won me over.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

What's the worst query letter you ever got? Also, do you sometimes request a partial from a really DREADFUL query just for a good laugh at a party? I'd love to see a book of really terrible queries!

Catja (green_knight) said...

Dear Miss Bestevah, may I ask you to consider submitting your fiction novel The Fastest Race Ever Toward Death to my newly-formed imprint, Crapshot Press?

We have helped more than fifteen authors to realise their dreams of publishing. Our fees start modestly (only $500 for 100 unbound copies) and increase due to a sliding scale, depening on the amount of services you require.

***NEW*** For an additional $175 we will reduce your adjective load by half.

Do not hesitate!

Sincerely, Shifty McShark, proprietor (Crapshot Books)

Tami P said...

Hey Shifty, I wouldn't be too surprised if you get a couple hundred emails from hopefuls in response to your post.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a disturbing trend both in writing classes (at least at the college level) and commercial fiction to emphasize style style style, and if you write style description style description style, even better! Substance is, of course, often sacrificed for the Style. I'm rather disheartened to see this is spilling over into queries as well.

Danny Adams