3.18.2006

Up and Down Market; Miss Snark's position therein

Recently, in a description of up and down market voice, Miss Snark described herself as 'downmarket'. Several loyal Snarklings rose up in wrath to say Miss Snark was many things but not downmarket.

Let's just say Miss Snark's Easter chapeau had to be enlarged after that round of compliments.

However.

Downmarket is not a comment on quality. Or even a comment on better/worse than upmarket. It's jut a description. Downmarket voice must still be well written. It's not the literary equivalent of "Dogs Playing Poker" paintings sold in the parking lot at the local Piggly Wiggly. (Not that Killer Yapp doesn't pine for one of those of course).

Downmarket is conversational rather than formal. It's not bad versus good. Describing something as downmarket just lets an editor know what style to expect in the writing. It's like telling someone it's fish for dinner not beef so they know to bring white wine not red. (Of course, gin goes with everything.)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark,

A long long time ago (about a year), before you became, ahem, worshipped, and when you really lived up to your name, you used to post more of a blog-like commentary, about what you did during the day. This was actually pretty interesting, and revealing, and often much more educational than reading these endless questions from nitwits, about whether to use italics or not, or some other ridiculous thing. Perhaps on occasion you could resurrect your previous incarnation. Maybe the Friday afternoon summary of your week?

[By the way, this kind of transformation has happened to others, too. Dan Savage, for example, used to write a hilariously snarky sex column for an alternative paper in Seattle, but then he became popular, and eventually syndicated, and he lost his edge, took himself seriously, and actually started answering the questions he got as a doctor might (dull). But you still retain some snarkiness (on occasion), so we trust that you won't become too nice and serious.]

Anonymous said...

I'm still unclear as to what books would fall into "upmarket" or "downmarket." Ultimately, is this something the author needs to worry about? I'm guessing not, since it's the agent's job to sell the ms, yes?

SherryD said...

"Downmarket is conversational rather than formal. It's not bad versus good. Describing something as downmarket just lets an editor know what style to expect in the writing."

Does this mean a character might say, "That's bullshit," instead of, "That's absurd, my dear."?

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark does not even approach dull--how dare you! And she provides a valuable service answering these questions, even if you know the answer to them, smarty pants ("this kind of transformation has happened to others, too") Oh please. The Snark is happenin. The Snark retains her snarkful wit and sarcasm as evidenced by her comment in this very post:

It's not the literary equivalent of "Dogs Playing Poker" paintings sold in the parking lot at the local Piggly Wiggly.

Go hang out in your coffee shop in Seattle reading alternative columnists and leave Miss Snark alone.

December Quinn said...

Yes, gin definitely goes with everything. Especially tonic and lime. Mmmmm.

Lynne said...

"It's not the literary equivalent of "Dogs Playing Poker" paintings sold in the parking lot at the local Piggly Wiggly."

Okay, I totally laughed out loud at this. How, pray tell, would someone as sophisticated as La Snark know about Piggly Wiggly? Surely they don't have them in New York?!

Anonymous said...

Go hang out in your coffee shop in Seattle reading alternative columnists and leave Miss Snark alone.

Amen!

Anonymous said...

"Go hang out in your coffee shop in Seattle reading alternative columnists and leave Miss Snark alone."

Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk. Jus' luv it when some comment gets the Snarklings all riled up.

I was one of those who jumped to Miss Snark's defence re the downmarket comment. I sort of assumed that it meant not literary or highbrow, appealing to those of less refined taste, the common palate, so to speak. Really, Miss Snark, aren't there overtones of snobbishness in the use of the word? Even if downmarket sells, and it does, isn't the term somewhat pejorative?
C.