9.02.2006

3rd SR Crapometer #15

Dear Miss Snark:

I would like to submit my novel, Wingman for Hire, to the Third Semi Regular Crapometer Contest. It is an adult fiction manuscript (this is like saying Miss Snark is bipedal. It's accurate but it doesn't tell me much I really need to know...like her affinity for poodles and gin...be more specific. Is it romance? science fiction? literary fiction? true crime?) , approximately 75,000 words in length.

I have enclosed the first page as per the Third Semi Regular Crapometer submission guidelines. Perhaps you will let me know if you would like to see the entire manuscript. I can be contacted by this email address.

Thank you, Miss Snark, for your time.

Sincerely

------------------------------------------------


Kacey Black glanced up from the familiar movement of the front door swinging wide open. (She's swinging on a door, hot diggety dog). Grinning, she watched as Jillian Kelley bounded past and into the dimly lit bar. She was breathing heavily as if she’d sprinted across the city. (similies are so we can see things in a fresh way or gain insight into something. This just says the same thing twice) Her eyes swept the half-deserted bar, no doubt, scanning for the familiar sight of her shabby (shabbily)-dressed brunette friend. Being in love with fashion and all it entailed, frustrated Jillian that her friend, Kacey was the complete opposite. More over, it infuriated her that someone so cute wouldn’t want to play up her looks with some color other than black.

I'd stop reading here.

Kacey scribbled something unimportant onto the half-filled page of the composition book before she returned her attention back to the latest visitor, not attempting to signal her friend(ya just in case we forgot they were friends cause mentioned it 35 words back..) that she was there.

Jillian made her way along the bar but stumbled upon her three-inch heels, reaching down to dislodge something stuck to the bottom of the spike. This abrupt movement caused her hair to fall forward, entangling some of the blonde strands within the jewel-encrusted bobble earrings. She spent several more minutes untangling them and checking her appearance before she returned to her present task of finding Kacey. Poor Jillian, Kacey thought, for as well dressed as she looked, it seemed to be too much work just to keep looking like a fashion ad.

“Hey there sugar, looking for me?” a gruff voice startled Jillian from behind.

“Oh--uh...I’m looking for my friend,” she bumped into the next chair, which lucky for her was empty.

Fumbling with her purse, Jillian nervously backed away and glanced about once more, making a half turn to leave when she at last spotted her friend, hunched over the table of a corner booth. She darted past a poorly lit pool table, bumping into one of the long-bearded players. Stumbling through an awkward apology, she finally made it past to stand next to Kacey’s private booth.

“What are you doing?” she breathed.

Kacey glanced up with a grin. “Nice to see you too, Jillian.”

Kacey surveyed her friend with concern. Jillian had a look about her face as if she didn’t know whether to laugh or to yell. She looked mad-crazy, somewhat like when someone is on the verge of crossing the line of sanity.

Jillian had no idea Kacey thought such things of her character. Jillian didn’t care so long as the compliments toward her new outfits, car and makeup remained a steady flow. Nothing else mattered.

“Well, are you going to tell me what you are doing?” she asked a second time.

“Hibernating,” Kacey exhaled a steady stream of bluish-grey smoke.

“What?” she gasped.

“It’s not spring yet, too cold to go down to the ocean front,” she sipped on the cherry colored drink.

“Well duh, the bands won’t show up for another three months,” Jillian flipped her hair back over her shoulder.

“And with them--tourists,” Kacey frowned.

“Why...are...you...here?” Jillian disregarded her comment.

“I told you, I’m hibernating.”

“Did you forget about tonight...you forgot about tonight, didn’t you?”

“No, every Wednesday night I come here to hibernate. No, Jillian, how is that possible I could forget about tonight?”

“But you’re here, not there,” Jillian pointed in a hypothetical direction.

“Where?”

“Sunnys,” Jillian waved her hands.

Kacey took a moment to absorb their conversation. She knew that Jillian wanted her to leave Big Wednesday’s but why on the one night a week that Kacey had all to herself.

“Well...why here?” Jillian pressed.

Nothing new or fresh or enticing means it's a pass.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

This submission got someone with talent and an interesting story to tell bounced from the contest? Sad.... Let's hope stuff of this caliber isn't making it into honest-to-dog slush piles in brick and mortar agent offices. If so, no wonder it's so hard for a new writer to break through.

December Quinn said...

There's nothing wrong with "said". Your people are like speedfreaks, jiggling and shaking and flipping their hair every time they speak.

People do not talk while sipping, because the act of sipping engages the mouth. They do not exhale or frown words. Action tags should be separate from dialogue, i.e.:

"Hibernating." Kacey exhaled a stream of...

or

"Hibernating," Kacey said, exhaling...

not

"Hibernating," Kacey exhaled...

Anonymous said...

Don't be disheartened, but this is noticeably amateur writing. Do keep writing, Author, and do keep learning about writing (there're great books to be had at the library on that subject), but based on this, you currently aren't ready for publication. Everybody starts out where you are now - just keep working at it! And good luck to you.

Specific things that are problematic in this excerpt:

You have some issues with grammar and punctuation, and you're head-hopping, i.e. you change the point-of-view character from one paragraph to the next. Also, what's the story? It's not clear what event in this scene is going to launch us forward into an interesting plot. You need to give us a nibble of something that makes us curious to know what happens next. Pick up a book on writing and learn about what tension is - it's the thing that will make a reader curious to read on.

Again, good luck!

#80 said...

thank you anonymous for your comment. I respect Miss Snark's comments because ya know, she's in the biz and has seen it all, read it all and probably, heard it all. I entered with the understanding my work really is crap and thus, added to the practice pile for the day I actually do hone a difficult craft.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Anonymous,

And that talented author with the interesting story to tell who got bounced was you? Or your bestest friend? Maybe your auntie?

Whoever wrote this didn't think herself untalented and without a story to tell. We all start somewhere. Hopefully we learn something along the way. Like manners.

Anonymous said...

This kind of stuff IS making it into slush piles.

Anonymous said...

Did I miss something, I thought this was the "3rd SR CRAPOMETER" contest? Meaning that only those deemed with something unworthy of having an agent represent them. In other words--the slush pile.

I cannot begin to explain Miss Snarks gracious willingness to do this alongside her full-time job of actually finding those rare gems to represent.

Disgruntled or not, no one should be whining about the lack of talent which didn't make it here--in the 'crapometer' contest. Instead, we should be nagging our editors and publishers to raise the standards of what good writing must be.

Kudos to those of you who support the raw and talentless writers dabling in this profession with positive reinforcement that, although bad, only practice will make them better.

Bernita said...

The dialogue tags should go.

Anonymous said...

Self-absorbed girls adjusting their hair, looking at clothes, letting the reader know what they're wearing, and viewpoint shifts bouncing like a blip on a Pong game, what's not to toss?

Take this one to Absolute Write and read some Madeline l'Engle.

overdog said...

Yes, it's amateur work and, as others have said, we all have to start somewhere. Don't give up, Author. Keep learning. You're doing the right thing by perusing sites such as this one. The slush piles are full of manuscripts by people who have not bothered to educate themselves, but you're doing it. You're already ahead.

And yes, the brick and mortar offices are inundated with amateur stuff. What's to keep it out? There's no law, or test you have to pass before you submit. That's one of the reasons Miss Snark's job is such a tough one.

BuffySquirrel said...

That has to be the fastest POV change I've ever seen.

Like the title, though.

Anonymous said...

Dear overdog,
Thank you for saying what needed to be said here; *author* needed to start somewhere.

There is no harm, maybe just wounded pride for having entered. However, rather than soil an editor's slush pile, at least the author was clever enough to enter Miss Snarks' contest (winning free advice) to find out what he/she needs to practice on. In which case, he/she received more crituqe on this than if it was sent directly to an agent for straight rejection.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen said...

Let's look at the opening paragraph to see why I would have bounced it at the same point as Miss Snark (even though I'm not a literary agent).

> Kacey Black glanced up from the familiar
> movement of the front door swinging wide
> open.

In an ideal world, the story should be about something exciting and unique that happens to the character. My front door swings wide open every day, y'know?

> Grinning, she watched as Jillian Kelley
> bounded past and into the dimly lit bar.

We've had to revise what we see: now there's a bar involved, and it's not the sort that goes across a door.

"Grinning, she watched" is horribly awkward.

"She watched" is also problematic, because we're watching the character watch Jillian, not with the character watching Jillian.

> She was breathing heavily as if she’d
> sprinted across the city.

She has changed. She was Kacey, now Jillian. We're now into direct observation of Jillian with a simile that doesn't help.

> Her eyes swept the half-deserted bar,
> no doubt, scanning for the familiar
> sight of her shabby dressed brunette
> friend.

Okay, I write science fiction and you really have to watch for things that may be literally true in your world (and therefore unintended comedy), so "Her eyes swept" really leaped at me. They did? When can I have them over to sweep my floors?

And double on the shabbily -- it's a compound adjective (consisting of an adverb and an adjective) and must therefore be in the proper form and joined with a hyphen. She's not a shabby friend or a dressed friend (well, we hope she is, but...), but a shabbily-dressed friend.

> Being in love with fashion and all it
> entailed, frustrated Jillian that her
> friend, Kacey was the complete opposite.

Don't tell us this way. If she follows fashion, she's brand-conscious. Does she like Dior couture (does anyone?). Does she prefer Chanel? Or is Macy's the best she can afford? Show us that. Have her hide the part of her LV knockoff bag that's a telltale to any true LV fan, for example.

Also, there's a POV shift. The first sentence was in Kacey's POV. Now we're in Jillian's.

> More over, it infuriated her that
> someone so cute wouldn’t want to play
> up her looks with some color other than
> black.

Most fashionistas I know happen to like black. I don't, but that limits my choices (especially in leathergoods). That said, this is all telling. We don't need to know that now. All we need for these last couple of sentences is for Jillian to return Kacey's grin with a frown.

The last two sentences are told in a small infodump. Mince it smaller and sprinkle it a word here, a word there.