5.30.2006

Miss Snark's Translation Service at your service

Dear MS:

Some NY agents are lately calling 'good' fiction writing 'transportive,' or, even more baffling, 'transportative.' Aside from wondering how I am to compete, in terms of prose quality, with the reader's experience of having her molecules split apart, shot through a light beam and reassembled by either Engineers Scott or O'Brian, can you offer any background on where the lleh the NY agent community came up with this uncrackable gem of jargon and What The kcuF it means to a fiction writer? (A)

Is there any possible way for a writer to follow this advice: "I am looking for fiction in which the writing is transportive, with characters I feel I can see before me"? Have the Klingons smuggled a new holograph device into the NY publishing industry for top-secret deployment between the hardcovers at a Goldsmith's near me, in time for this summer's beach-read season? (B)

Every time an agent says something like this, it only causes more confusion, not less -- and, I have to conclude, more mis-targeted submissions resulting from the confusion (?). Can you beam me out of this vortex in the fabric of the sales-word
continuum AND rescue the snarkling crew of our common Enterprise from the conceptual chaos of its gaping maw? (3)




A. We buy little velvet bags full of words (they are called word hoard and don't let any lame ass scholor tell you it's from Beowulf, no sirreee) that we use on our website to describe what we are looking for. It bears no resemblance to what we actually want; we do it just to confuse and befuddle you. And, see, it's working. I think transportative is one from the 2005 bag (they are updated annually--unlike our websites which we never update because why would we?), and I think it was very popular that year cause of the subway strike. We really did want transportative fiction..much like we wanted a bronzed pedicab peddler to arrive at the front door at 8am.


B. Yes, the best way to make sure that any agent who has this on their web site will take you seriously is to include story boards, or paper dolls, or even better a troupe of mimes to act out the plot whilst s/he reads your query letter. Items can be found on ebay of course..but you may need the secret code to access that part of the site. Again, this is a way we have to find out if you are really serious about your work and not just some dilettante starving artist who thinks fiction should yanno...move you.

Alternatively you may consult with the NY Department of Transportation which -silly you- you thought meant subways. No no...they're in charge of fiction.

And really, any good movie producer can hook you up with a Transportation Captain. If you don't know any movie producers, just check the credits of a recent movie--they're listed write there.


3. Yes, of course. Never submit any work of fiction to an agent who is so clearly unable to write, recognize good writing, or describe what they seek in simple terms like : fiction-novels, short stories, literary, no genres.

Now, away with me, I'm feeling the need to be tranportized.

18 comments:

Poohba said...

Miss Snark, do you handle Holodeck-program rights? The agent of whoever wrote those Dixon Hill novels must be making a killing!

ROTFLMAO said...

O how I love you!!! Still LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, let's not get carried away here!

Anonymous said...

I know what agents you're writing about. They're serious newbies and their requests for "transportive fiction" bespeaks their newbieness. even if they are with established agencies.

M.E Ellis said...

Would have thought the word transportive explained itself.

They want books that literally transport them into the world that has been written about - that they have forgotten they are reading and feel more like they are watching a movie.

:o)

Benja Fallenstein said...

I totally heart this letter.

Anonymous said...

Jesus. This board is hopping this morning. I was still laughing from the previous post. I think this is a humor site. Snark, you are one hell of a comedian.

Georgia Girl

dink said...

Damn --this should go into the snarkives Hall of Flame ... er Fame!

I wish I really could laugh my ass off (less ass would be good) but instead I have to tighten the screws on my desk chair to prevent it from dumping my plenty-of-ass on the floor during the laughing.

Anonymous said...

I am the questioner for this post. Thank you, Miss Snark, for your reply. It was in just the spirit the Q deserved.

m.e. ellis has dead-panned the true translation [above] of transportative (though, maybe the Klingons have been up to something, if the transport is literal :-) They mean they want writing that figuratively transports them to a different world.

I was in a mood after a debate only a grammarian could have over choosing the simple word (it may be epistaxis to a freshman comp student who is about to learn that a big vocabulary is most graciously used as a reading, rather than as a writing resource, but that's a nosebleed to anyone whom you want to keep reading), and I just happened across six agents' websites in a row who were all looking for transportating fiction. I think that's normally called "writing that finds the right balance of showing and telling," or maybe even, "writing that prefers concrete nouns and evokes all five senses."

The high altitude of transportating was giving me an epistaxis. But, as we all know, and I concede: email and gin don't mix.

Edward Ott said...

One agent loves it the other hates it, go with the one who gets you the biggest check.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to hazard a guess and say 'transportive' or 'transportative' means fiction that makes the reader forget he/she is reading? Don't know - but if the agent expects the writer to write clearly, maybe the agent should express herself/himself clearly, too.

kis said...

The word "transportate" makes me roll my eyes almost as much as the word "orientate."

I can tolerate this kind of thing from my mother, who blunders her way through the English language as if it was her second tongue and not her first, but from people who are supposed to know a little something about grammar, it just makes me shake my head.

Ack, just shook my head so hard, it fell clean off!

Ski said...

If anyone ever needed a reason to visit this blog, here's a wonderful example.

Rgds.............Ski

Anonymous said...

I think transportative is one from the 2005 bag ...



And could we please throw away "luminous?" That description has surely had its day!

Anonymous said...

kis, you're making me laugh... again...

Ken Boy said...

It is worrisome, here in the gaping maw, when I'm not sure what is going on. Every one is so "dead pan" I don't know who is kidding and who is serious.

Surely nobody really cares if an agent asks for "transportive" fiction. After all, this is English, where the rules are to be broken and new words grow like clover after a spring rain.

OK, "transportative" may be a bit much, but what the hell. Every industry needs its jargon. If these agents could write like Sheri Holman, they wouldn't be agents.

This was just an opportunity for some achingly elaborate word play on a Star-Trekky theme, right?

kis said...

Oh, Ken Boy, "transportive" is completely unobjectionable. "Transportative" on the other hand gives me this irresistable urge to beat whoever said it to death with a dictionary.

Ken Boy said...

kis, you better get that beating in fast, 'cause the next issue of the same dictionary just might include said non-word. ;)