That's All for the Crapometer!

99! Holy moly Snarklings! Gotta tell ya, I'll never do this again.
I'd probably do synopses again (but not soon) but I'll never do this many.

We had 107 entries, 99 crossed the finish line.
Some were tossed overboard for excess word count, a couple for being not-synopsis.

As you can see it took seven days to do it all, and I didn't do much else. Oh, a pail of gin here and there but not much work.

I conclude from the emails and the comment trail that it was generally helpful. I learned a lot myself too. (I now know what a mage is! and to never try to out run a werewolf)

And if you're having trouble posting comments, it may be because blogger has this blog on "spam alert" after all the posts. I've written to them to say I'm real, and not trying to sell penis enlargers from Nigeria, but it may take them awhile to answer.

And I really really want to emphasize how pleasantly surprised I am that no one, not one single person, wrote back to say "Miss Snark you stink". You really handled some pretty snarky comments with a lot of grace. I have a lot of respect for people who can do that.

I'm now off to lie on the couch, swill gin, and read the Times. I'm probably not going to post much for the coming week, but I'll quit deleting your questions unread.

Here's to a happy and prosperous new year for us all!
Snark On!


Mindy Tarquini said...

May you find George Clooney waiting for you at the end of your rainbow, Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

You don't need to outrun the werewolves. All you need to do is outrun your companion (or carry a nice, juicy steak with you to distract them with).

Seriously, your commitment to this was amazing. Thanks a million for helping us all be better writers. You deserve all the gin you can handle.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the substance, Miss Snark, what you demonstrated is that you're someone who keeps her promises and brings in a project on time, paid or not paid, and damn the aggravation and the lost holiday weekend. In short, you're who everyone wants in their corner. If people stopped reading books tomorrow there isn't an organization in New York that wouldn't be glad to get you. (Okay, maybe the MTA.)

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Miss Snark. What's the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for blogs?

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

Let me lead off a rousing round of applause for you and what you've done. It is truly amazing and should be required reading for every aspiring writer. I hope you are drowning in happy gin today because you deserve it.

You didn't tick me off by what you said about my synopsis... it was okay but not good enough. Some of the comments really got my panties in a snarl but wtf? It was a valuable lesson on how different people perceive the same thing.

Your comments about other people's synopses were-- amazing. I lost interest on several of them and admired your stamina-- not to mention that when your snark shines through, it's a lovely thing.

Now, get the gin pail, curl up with Killer Yapp and go watch something completely mindless on the Tube.

I consider what you've done for ME to be a gift. I thank you.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for all the hard work you did this week for us. I am amazed at how many people submitted. I can see future crap-o-meter openings being a few hours instead of two days.

Just wanted you to know that not only do the devoted snarklings love you, but you are revered throughout the writing internet.

May the rest of your year be car alarm free.

Anonymous said...

Great job, Miss Snark. Your work is greatly appreciated. And great work to all the writers. They're gutsy and I'm sure much better for going through the process. Impressive.

quanty p biederman said...

Nicely done, Miss Snark. Now rest up, but please come back to us. As you can see, we really need you!

Anonymous said...

Yay! Happy New Year, Miss Snark. Enjoy your well-deserved break.

much love from stumptown!

Tami P said...

While it make take some steel jewels to post our work, it has to take steel nerves to actually weed through it all, and give insightful, and helpful comments.

It is you that should be, and usually are, applauded.

Thank you very much for your work this week, and all year long as well.

Miss Write

Rick said...

Applause to both Miss Snark and everyone who faced the Crapometer with such courage!

Kelly said...

The Crapometer has been an amazing public service for writers. Your egalitarianism would make me doubt you're an agent, but your expertise is proof that you are one. Thanks a million!

Dave Kuzminski said...

Get those stiletto heels silver-plated. Then you won't have to outrun any werewolves or vampires. ;)

If Bonnie still hasn't figured it out yet, I am Batman, the dark knight they seek. I just can't state that openly on that other site where they're lurking.

Aethlos said...


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I dunno....I think we should give you a big red cape with an 'S' on it....Snark...Superwoman...take your pick. They sorta mean the same thing after all this!

Your holiday contribution to total strangers is amazing!

This 'seminar' reads like a 'how to' book (actually better than any I've ever read).

This is an invaluable lesson for all snarklings to absorb, even the ones who didn't submit.

I salute you Miss Snark, whoever you are!

Now clean your palate, and get back to your real work...vacation is over! :-)

Sandra Ruttan said...

Miss Snark, you should write the book on how to write a killer synopsis.

You deserve a standing ovation for all this input and advice and the tremendous learning experience you've offered all of us readers.

I'd offer to send gin, but I don't think "Miss Snark, USA" would quite cut it with the post office.

thatgirlygirl said...

*clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*

Thanks again, Miss Snark. You rock!

McKoala said...


Have loved every word and learnt heaps. The world will be a far less entertaining place without you to log on to every day.

Have a great break!

Tina said...

A well-earned and much deserved break to you, Miss Snark. I'm new to the Snarkling fold -- and to the Crapometer -- but I am consistently amazed and delighted by this constellation of fine people anchored by your snarky star. To happiness and prosperity for all, second helpings even. And many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark - Thank you for the gift of your time and expertise. I've learned so much in the last few weeks. What an education! You have encouraged me, inspired me, sent me to the depths of despair, then convinced me to "gird up my loins", suck it up, and get back to work. You're amazing.

Problem Child said...

You rock, Miss Snark!

Enjoy a much-deserved rest.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Dave...I knew she was talking about you. I wanted to know who the subject-bad-person is!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I can hardly say it better than everyone else has, so just add my humble thanks to the pile. I've been with you since the very beginning of this blog. It's been a great ride. :) I wish you tropical sunsets spent in the arms of George, a bottomless gin pail, and the next great big bestselling writer in your stable. Aloha.

WannabeMe said...

Miss Snark, though I didn't get my synopsis in (I was out of town), I learned a bunch from your comments.

Thanks for sharing your Snarky wisdom!

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, you are an absolute gem to go through all of this for us.

Though I do have to say now, after seeing all the synopsis (synopsii?), that I see why most agents reject 99% of what they get. I only liked one out of all of these.

I have new respect for an agent's job. :)

beth amos said...

Let me add my thanks to the mix. It's been a very enlightening session and a big help to me. Thank you Your Royal Snarkness. I'm tipping a Tanqueray in your honor.

Paisley Scott said...

So.... what you're saying is you want us to start sending in new synopses now that you're done? OMG you're a glutton for punishment, aren't you? Well... if you insist.... Now what did I do with that synopsis about the werewolf callgirl and the dragon eating car alarm? Hmmmm... I'll have to get back to you on that.


JK, Miss Snark! You did a most excellent job here and right on the moolah. And I don't care what Lucy Lui says, YOU ROCK! ;)

M. C. Pearson said...

Love your creative use of WTF in some of your comments. In the Army we used 'whiskey tango foxtrot' to express the same idea.

Harry Connolly said...

Thank you for doing this.

Sal said...

Amazing, Miss Snark. Amazing that you read each and every one. Amazing that you took the time to comment, sometimes in great, gory, snarky detail, on each and every one.

Your analyses of the synopses provided a great lesson.

Sure, sure, you can say, "Focus. Tell me who the characters are. Tell me what the problem is."

Until I saw the wide variety of synopses turned in and how you reacted to them, I didn't really have a feel for what a synopsis can and can't do.

I'm starting the new year with revisions of a first draft. Before I begin, I plan to write a synopsis to see whether the story, characters, plot, and motivation hang together.

Thanks for following through on a generous offer, even though it turned out to be far more than you intended.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog just before Thanksgiving. After reading the "first page" submissions in your archives, I ripped apart my treasured crime novel. I had the beginning buried in the middle. I wrote in passive voice. My main character observed while other people dug up the evidence for her. It was a crime, all right! Worse, I thought I had to send the entire ms with query letter in a box.

I did not submit a synopsis because I have nothing left but my revised first chapter and a lot of hope. I have learned more about fiction writing and publishing from Miss Snark in slightly over a month than from any other source in my entire life.

Thank you so much for your time, expertise and humor. May your international brood of Snarklings give you back more than 100 great books in 2006 to show for your efforts!

Emelle in Oklahoma

Kitty said...

There once was a witch named Liu :~)

AzGhostWriter said...

Great job! I have to agree with everyone that said you're tops. I couldn't imagine anyone else doing such a great job.

s.w. vaughn said...

*bows to Miss Snark, super-agent*

You are awesome. 'Nuff said.


Anonymous said...

Nigerians offering penis enlargement? I would have thought size was NOT an issue for African men???

Miss Snark, you are SuperUberAgent! (Don't care what they say about Binky Urban - and you say you're not her so...) What you just did over the last week is sheer generosity of time and heart. Over the New Year weekend at that! It's been educational, informative and enlightening and I have the utmost respect for you and the work that you do.

Now how do I find out who you really are so i can send you a proper query?

Hope you discover some amazing new writers and laugh all the way to the bank in 2006!

PS I think you probably kick too much ass for George Clooney to handle!

Alli said...

Put your feet up Miss Snark, get Killer Yapp to wait on you hand and foot and enjoy the time off!

Thanks so much for all the time and effort - I'm sure every single person who read your comments will walk away with a better knowledge of what is required when it comes to writing the dreaded synopsis. You've taken the dreaded out for me!

Alli said...

literary fiction

“Lesbian, lesbian, lesbian,” April Riley imagines herself intoning for two years in a remote African hut: maybe by the time her Peace Corps service is up she’ll have gotten used to saying it – and being one. Then she can worry about coming out to her Born Again parents. Cathy Rudge, April’s only friend on this nascent trip to Africa, is ten years and a messy marriage older than any of the other recruits; her wandering husband came home after two years away, just when Cathy had given up and joined the Peace Corps. Recruits only get 80 pounds of luggage to carry onto the flight, but both women have plenty they’re trying to leave behind.

Their immersion in francophone Togo begins before the Air Afrique flight hits the tarmac. They are pressed in on all sides by a vibrant, chaotic world and met at the airport by their teacher, Henri, whose robes and deep facial scars seem the height of the exotic. But Stanford-educated Henri is plagued by family troubles and disagreements with the Peace Corps director, kept hidden from the Americans the way he hides his fluent English. The Volunteers’ three month training is to be a highly regimented, French-only experience. Too bad neither Cathy nor April can speak much French.

On an early assignment, April spends a week in an inhospitable village, an experience made worse by her uncooperative Volunteer host, her own clumsy French, and someone’s truly abysmal cooking. The chef in question turns out to be Gwendolyn, a transplant from English-speaking Ghana, as misplaced and as lonely as April is. Whether April’s ready to be a lesbian or not, she’s falling in love.

After a grueling month of training, Cathy still hasn’t heard from her husband. The trainees are forbidden to leave the village and reminded of a cardinal Peace Corps rule: any Volunteer caught riding a bicycle without a helmet will have her service terminated. Yet, hoping to use a phone in another village, Cathy and April sneak out. Cathy is unable to contact her husband and fears he’s, yet again, being unfaithful.

Having broken Peace Corps rules once, April goes AWOL to Gwendolyn’s village at her next opportunity. There, she discovers a new law, requiring fishermen to obtain a permit in the distant capital city, has sunk Gwendolyn and her children into poverty. They can’t afford the travel, nor the permit itself, so are forced to fish illegally at night, risking being shot by the gendarmes who patrol the area.

The Peace Corps assigns April and Cathy to work in neighboring villages, they move to Cathy’s house for the last phase of training, studying the tribal language with Henri. Henri inexplicably avoids meeting with the tribal chief; this rudeness creates havoc in the tribe. Further complicating their visit is the Prefet, a government functionary who was once a school rival of Henri’s and is now visibly delighted with his new power over Henri and his American trainees.

“When I had my daughter,” Henri tells Cathy and April, “I swore that I would not cut her cheeks with the balafre.” And he touched the gouges on his cheeks, marking him as a member of the tribe. “How could you cut your baby’s skin?” But his mother stole his daughter away when Henri was off teaching for the Peace Corps, and she cut the scars into the girl’s face herself, wounds which still have not healed. Henri has been unable to face his mother, now wife of the chief, ever since.

As soon as training is over, April moves not to Henri’s uncle’s village, but to Gwendolyn’s. Gwendolyn has gotten sick and is struggling to take care of her children. Cathy is left to cover for April’s absence, which becomes impossible in the face of the Prefet’s pressure and the rising anger from the village chief.

Gwendolyn’s village life is shattered when a truckload of gendarmes arrive, drunk, torching fishing boats and nets, as well as the permits each family worked so hard to obtain. April tries to intervene but the soldiers, unhappy to have an American witness their violence, arrest her. April evades them only long enough to help Gwendolyn, now very ill, into bed, where she kills herself by overdosing on the very pain medications April has brought her.

Cathy, now in regular correspondence with her husband, is growing homesick and increasingly frustrated with her village situation. Not sure what has happened to April, she answers a strange summons to the remote house where April, dazed and worried about Gwendolyn’s children, awaits the Peace Corps director and her certain deportation. Desperate to stay, April asks Cathy to convince Henri to speak with his uncle, hoping the chief can appeal the Peace Corps on her behalf. But asking for his mother and uncle’s help requires Henri forgive what they did to his daughter.

Henri approaches his mother for the first time since she cut his daughter; he also sends Cathy to ask the Prefet to exert his influence as well. Speaking with the pompous man, who clearly delights in the failings of the Americans, Cathy realizes that the thing he values most is his reputation and his power. Her only chance of saving April’s Peace Corps service is to forfeit her own, gambling that the Prefet would avoid the humiliation of losing all of the Americans under his jurisdiction.

Cathy sets off on her bicycle, into the desert, without a helmet, on the one paved road the director must take to bring April back to the capital. Sure to see her, he should, by his own threat, deport her for breaking this rule. Cathy hopes his pride, like the Prefet’s, will force him to chose to deport one Volunteer instead of two. When his van stops for Cathy, he’s irate, but his choice is clear: he will let April stay. Cathy will be the one to go home.

This is just plain excellent.

Writer Webs said...

Thanks for the insightful look at how an agent sees a synopsis. Hopefully, authors will pay attention and learn greatly from your helpful advice. That would serve all of us (Writers AND Readers) much better!

Anonymous said...

Oh sure come in at 99% and then start thinking about Gin and putting ones feet up. Gawd these agents nowdays...:)


tremblor said...

You are amazing.

Thank you for sharing your valuable time and thoughts with us.

You deserve a weekend in the Caribbean.

J.R. Turner said...

Wanted to add my 3 Cheers for a Superb Synopsis Snarkfest!! *G*

Thank you TONS Miss Snark--as like everyone else, I learned soooo very much ;)


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your hard work. You've provided an invaluable lesson to all writers and hopefully you'll reap the rewards the next time a query letter crosses your desk.

Anonymous said...

I've read all kinds of books and websites, trying to figure out how to write a good synopsis, but nothing has been more useful to me than reading through the Crapometer's victims, paying close attention to my reactions, and then comparing those reactions to yours. Sometimes a mess of real life examples is exactly what a person need to figure the thing out.

Thank you so much for doing this, Miss Snark! You are the cat's pyjamas, the poodle's pink tam, and this Snarkling's favorite writing resource!

Anonymous said...

Much luck may it do us...



Anonymous said...

Well, this Pixie Princess thinks you're one helpful person for a snark. What IS a snark anyway?

You made me focus on my Synopsis. I'm back to sweating over it. And since Pixies only sweat when they're really concentrating . . . You've made me work.

I'll take snarky comments any day. And I'll treasure them as if they were the Gold of Ophir.


David Isaak said...

The Crapometer has gone AWOL again? Praise the Lord!

Much as I respect the hard work La Snarkita put in, I'm eager for, as Warren Gamaliel Harding put it, a return to normalcy, with Miss Snark's commentary focusing on whatever happens to wander in front of her crosshairs...

Tess said...

Thanks for all your hard work on the Crapometer, Miss Snark :-) Your efforts are much appreciated. And my hat is off to all those brave writers who submitted a synopsis. I wasn't one of them.

Jerilyn Dufresne, author said...

You did a great job.

And I'll wait patiently (or not so) for the Synopsis chute to open again. Jer

Sal said...

re the article in the timesonline.co.uk, which anonymous/RRBrklyn mentions up there, above the anonymous post from the Pixie Princess ...

Victoria Strauss has a few words to say about the exercise.

Anonymous said...

I've been mostly away from the keyboard over Christmas and New Year, so I haven't had a chance yet to look through all of the posts -- but I will be looking at them. The ones I have seen were enormously helpful in giving an agent's-eye-view of a synopsis. Thank you very much, both for your comments on my synopsis in particular, and for the general excercise.

Anonymous said...

A belated thank you for going to all this work to help enlighten us. I came here on a tip from a friend and found myself entranced by the wealth of real information. For the first time I have a glimmering of what a synopsis is and how it's supposed to work.

I will be rewriting mine :)

Thank you again.