More on Footnotes in a novel

Dear*mhtml:mid://00000020/#_ftn1 Miss Snark,

I don‚t mind when you dismiss prologues on your blog.+ mhtml:mid://00000020/#_ftn2But now you‚ve moved on to footnotes and I only just started sending that novel°mhtml:mid://00000020/#_ftn3 to agents.

Could you help a writer out and perhaps say some nice things about footnotes?±mhtml:mid://00000020/#_ftn4 I‚ve taken the time to script a few responses for you to post the next time someone mentions them:

I‚ve heard that the next breakout trend will be footnotes.
The Industry and I have been lamenting about the complete dearth of books with footnotes available to the modern reader.
I view footnotes like butterflies; beautiful, glittering and ready to be pinned for display so all can admire their perfection.
I wish every agent could start their day with a big bucket of gin and a 113k manuscript filled with magnificent, superb, enchanting footnotes.
Mary Roach is the funniest woman on the planet.

So, if you could do that it would be great, thanks.

Imagine if you were trying to send this as an electronic query to an agent.



Anonymous said...

With the hieroglyphics, the high word-count and the (excessive?) interest in footnotes, could this be the return of... Literary Author (unpublished)?

~~Olivia said...

Miss Snark, Use your secret decoder ring. It will reveal all.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Mary Roach!
"If I make it to Hollywood, I will change my name to Mary Gilbeaux because it has more star quality."
I thought I was the only person to remember her ... if we're talking about the one from American Idol.

Anyway, I hate footnotes, personally. Unless they work. I just came across one in a book and it didn't work at all.

Anonymous said...

Footnotes. Puke.

Bill Peschel said...

I think we have a sample here from David Foster Wallace's next novel.

Douglas said...

Came across this independant but coincidentally moments prior to reading this post:


"coincidentally moments prior"? Is that oxymoronic?

Cheryl Mills said...

I had to go back to find the word count after the first comment. Unfortunately, I didn't get that far on first read. Barely made it on second.

You lost me at "Dear*mhtml:mid//...

Watercolorz said...

This why I should have gotten a degree. Y’all could read that???

Another reason I shouldn’t attempt blogging until I have consumed caffeine. ~W

Anonymous said...

Still trying to wake up. Footnotes? What the hell! Where's the coffee? Jesus.

Georgia Girl

Can you make those letters a little bigger on that WORD VERIFICATION thing?

Anonymous said...

I‚ve heard that the next breakout trend will be footnotes.

Thas suppozer'd ta be one o' them thar joke ledders, ra-hi-ight??

Before twigging to the writer's humor, I have to admit to a bit of eye-rolling and a stab of sympathy for you, dear Miss Snark.

(I gathered my wandering visual orbs and staunched the bleeding, thank you for asking.)

Had the letter been serious I might have gone on a rant against writers who try to track "trends" so they may jump on quick with their version.

I get a few trend-trackers in every workshop. The disappointed looks when I explain that a trend will be long over by the time they submit their work are priceless.

However, it's getting harder and harder for me to keep a straight face. This year I shall attempt to acquire some insulation in the form of a medicinal tipple and see if that won't help.

No gin, thank you, I wouldn't think of imposing. Perhaps vodka with a health-imparting splash of orange juice will do the trick.

Anonymous said...

I hope the letter writer meant Mary Roach, as in author of Stiff and Spook, and Reader's Digest columnist.

Anonymous said...

The Eyre Affair - spastic, hilarious footnotage

Sarah said...

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was very popular this past year, and used footnotes to great effect. But then, the author was also imitating the style of the period when the book took place, the early 1800's. I thought it was great because I could see it was mocking stuffy Britishness. That is, it was tongue in cheek. I think other writers who see examples like this and then try to employ footnotes in fiction may not have as much success.

kis said...

All I know is, while reading this post, my retinas detached. Well, off to the opthalmologist.:)

Tom said...

David Foster Wallace uses footnotes well in his non-fiction. If you want to read some crazy footnotage (and, really, who doesn't?) pick up Consider the Lobster and read the essay "Host." It's trascendent.

Remodeling Repartee said...

I'm currently reading The Reindeer People, winner of the Kiriyama prize in PanAsian nonfiction this year, and it does footnotes very well--they are all asterisks and listed in the back of the book according to page number with the sentence which they illuminate listed in order as they appear on the page. Very classy. It doesn't interupt the flow of the narrative or disturb the eye like a footnote, yet the extra information is terrific. It's also a great read. Check it out.

Watercolorz said...

No gin, thank you, I wouldn't think of imposing. Perhaps vodka with a health-imparting splash of orange juice will do the trick.

(rolling eyes)

All the cool kids are drinking pomegranate… ~W

Anonymous said...

Footnotes are for science, math and astronomy. Nice to look down and go oh, so that was what you meant or oh, gee...how boring. Les Miserable by Victor Hugo in the unabridged form came with footnotes to decode the French which I can't speak or read or speak. (That was a godsend)
Please I beg, no footnotes for novels, unless its to decode Swahili or some dialect from China.
Two words: Boring and distracting.

Kate R said...

I'm betting that the Mary Roach who is hysterical is the MR who wrote "Stiff."