3rd SR Crapometer #13

Dear Miss Snark,

I am seeking representation for my comedic urban fantasy, [redacted], complete at 81,000 words.

One fine morning long ago the god of Judgment found himself in the throes of an existential crisis, kicked off by an epiphany concerning cultural relativity and the banality of evil. This wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the fact that his boss, the creator, had been on sabbatical since the beginning of time and forgot to leave a list of actionable items behind (and in an existential crisis, you really need actionable items to see you through). In a fit of pique, Judgment quit. He took his brother, Justice, with him, and they both called in sick to work for the next five thousand years.

Justice, unable to fulfill his purpose, never gave up hope that eventually they would hear from the creator - or at least get a memo - and be able to return to their previous positions. When he runs into a young woman by the name of Leda Swanson, who finds him startlingly familiar - though she is unable to say why or how - he is convinced that she is the sign he has been waiting for.

For her part Leda is in the middle of sliding down a slippery slope of homelessness, joblessness, and alcohol abuse in an attempt to drown out the memories of her painful childhood. After a little persuasion (but not much) she agrees to help the down-and-out deities (help them do what?) in exchange for the promise of a personal audience with the creator when they find him. With much ado the three enlist the aide of the supernatural family tree as well as that of a slew of characters from the pages of religious myth and step into the next world in the ultimate quest to confront the management.

The manuscript is available upon request. I have enclosed an SASE for your reply. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Ok, I get it's funny, humorous and all that stuff.
Is there a plot?

The man who wore his grin like a garment stood before the man who wore his tattoos like a skin and announced:

"I have received... a Sign."

The tattooed man did not even dignify the dramatic pause. "Is that so?" he asked in the same tone of voice he'd been using for the past three centuries to shut down any and all discussion pertaining to Signs, Portents, Omens, Auspices, Premonitions, and I Just Have This Feelings. "Did it say, 'Darrius is blocking the TV'?"

Though Darrius was the sort of person whose optimism remained undiminished even in the face of overwhelming experience, he nevertheless felt a tickle of annoyance on his tongue. "The hell?" he said. "I'm trying to impart an important revelation to you and all you can think about are your stupid soap operas!"

The clove cigarette clinging to the tattooed man's lips wheezed a melancholy wisp of smoke. "My soaps are important," he said. "Move."

"No. I have received a wondrous Sign that I cannot ignore."

"Fantastic. Less door, more window."

Darrius took a calming breath, and then stepped back slightly to readjust his grip on the situation, a thread of discontent weaving its way through what was probably his soul.

The tattooed man had clearly been sitting in the same spot for several days; dust was already collecting in the folds of his clothes, the frighteningly organic flotsam of the living room threatened to engulf him, and he was still wearing his weekend get-up of shiny buckles and slick leather that always put Darrius in mind of a male prostitute.

Currently he reclined against the broken couch that had been arranged in front of the antiquated television out of a vague regard for convention. It was not a nice couch, and the tattooed man was losing nothing by not choosing to sit on it: the fabric was ripped, springs protruded from its torn green velvet skin at odd angles, and the cushion with the bloodstain - this particular couch had been purchased at a remarkable discount - hadn't even been turned over. A family of enterprising beer bottles appeared to have made a nest in it, and frankly the only thing saving the tattooed man from a swift mercy killing was the puppy in his lap, gnawing joyously on his inked fingers.

All in all, Darrius concluded, a depressing tableau that merely served as a microcosm of the current state of his existence. He took a personal moment to entertain fond thoughts of arson.

ok, now that we've all finished admiring your deftness with words...
you're getting bogged down in description again. Description just for the sake of showing us your facility with it doesn't work....particularly if you haven't clued me in on plot.

This one is a pass but I'd probably say something nice about the writing cause I don't think you suck. Get over yourself long enough to move us down the road --although I might try to phrase that a bit less ..um ...honestly.


Anonymous said...

*is still snickering*

Okay, listen to Miss Snark's advice, but I thought this was great! I'd totally read on; I was giggling through both the query letter and the excerpt.

Anonymous said...

I have glazed eyes. (Honey mustard sauce works best for that.)

When I blinked them clear I reached for my copy of Good Omens and let it suck me in.

See ya later.

K.L. said...

I think SFF readers would be fine lingering in the world for a bit--the bigger question for me is whether Neil Gaiman is going to dig out all those noncompete clauses that he got the gods to sign and start waving them under your nose.

December Quinn said...

Garth Ennis, writer of Preacher, could lodge a complaint, too.

I liked this, but my brain is stuck on "wore his tattoos like skin". Um...?

Saturday Ayres said...

I agree with general sentiment. I've been reading in chronological order, and this is the first one where I would have read on. If I saw it published, I'd pick it up and buy it, and I'd love to see more.

anon #2 and k.l. are right that it has a very Gaimanesque feel, which is NOT a bad thing. Not at all.

With that said... yeah, listen to Miss Snark. I've found that I can get away with more cleverness if I do it a sentence at a time, instead of in large and indigestible chunks. Those chunks smell really good, but they don't do much for you later on.

Katrina Stonoff said...

I really liked this author's voice in the query, but the submission itself seemed self-conscious. Like the author's writing changes as soon as he tells himself, "OK, this writing is important."

Stop trying so hard, Author. Just relax and tell your story.

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO MUCH, Miss Snark. You are a downright saint for going through the crapometer for us, and I found your comments to be exceptionally helpful (though alas, explaining plot has never been my forte - I shall have to keep working on it, woe). I will always keep them at the front of my mind with subsequent rewrites and edits. Also much love to my fellow Snarklings - your comments are also helpful and even kind (though I had to go look up Garth Ennis). Much appreciated. Thank you, thank you!

JRBrown said...

I'm not a big fan of gritty fantasy, but if I got this out of the library I'd read a page or two more. Something interesting would have to happen pretty soon or I'd send it back.

Just my personal tase: I prefer seeing the ordinary person's reaction to the big overblow character to seeing the big overblown character himself (or herself). I'm hoping Leda is the major character here.

amused said...

Loved the "enterprising family of beer bottles". Hee!

nessili said...

I too liked the tone of the query. I'd read more if the book was written like that and not like the excerpt.

My question is rather trival--is there a reason Leda Swanson is named that? Didn't Zeus seduce Leda in the form of a swan?

Anonymous said...

"Didn't Zeus seduce Leda in the form of a swan?"

As someone commented on a Laurel K. Hamilton novel, "Who the bleep wants to have sex with a were-swan, anyway?"

December Quinn said...

You're welcome, anon author, and I wish you the best of luck! I really do think it's good.

theraspberrycordial said...

This is the only one so far that has genuinely piqued my interest

theraspberrycordial said...

This is the only one so far that has genuinely piqued my interest

McKoala said...

I liked the tone of the query. The whole thing reminded me of Neil Gaiman and also another book, um, involving a tattoed monk of some kind. All interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's times like this that this blog depresses the hell out of me, and makes me glad that agents aren't a monopoly. I also liked this. Shades of Gaiman, Pratchett, and even a little Neal Stevenson (who can ramble on like nobody's bidness). The dialogue made me snicker out loud. Good luck with your novel.

~Nancy said...

This was really funny - I enjoyed it (high-falutin' words and all)!

I'd read on.


Steorling said...

I'm getting seriously bad deja "ew". Dierk Bentley's Holistic Detective Agency and it's follow up, The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul? Um, yeah, Thor, refrigerators, Welsh Linens, yep, yep....you're annoying me by turning my obsession with IChing Calculators into a bad cliche.