9.09.2006

3rd SR Crapometer #99 plus 10

Dear Miss Snark,

I'm seeking representation for my 75,000 word fantasy novel entitled Seeing the Knot.

Ok, it's Friday night. I've been working on these for a solid week and I've held it in but now, NO MORE!! Why on Dog's Pink Tam do you use the word "entitled". You mean "titled; called; named; or baptized in the River Snark". I got out my threadbare red Websters vintage edition and looked up "entitled". Herewith: Entitle (vt---transitive verb) To give a title to; designate.

Now, is this an auto-zap. No.
Why should you care? Because I look for a facility with language. I look for people who want to use the right words and bleed buckets on the page worrying about the difference between title and entitle. I want the people with shredded dics.

This isn't as obvious to the naked eye as peek/picque or to/to0/two, but it's the same kind of mistake. Stop doing this.

ok...why am I standing on this soapbox and why are there men in white jackets creeping up behind me??

Princess Norrah falls in love with an unsuitable young man, as princesses often do. During their elopement, he is killed. Norrah manages to run far enough away to find an upstanding man who doesn't count too closely the number of months her pregnancy lasts. Unfortunately, Norahh dies in childbirth, leaving her daughter, Alyse, to find her way back to the kingdom of Carnavon.

The novel takes place sixteen years after the princess's death. Several years have passed since her upstanding man died as well, leaving Alyse to life alone with her Aunt Soria and 4 (four) male cousins. At odds with the social and, mostly silent, etiquette requirements, Alyse strikes out on her own to the royal city and encounters all her mother left behind.

Enclosed please find an excerpt of the first chapter. If you would like to read a lengthier sample of this work, please contact me (yadda yadda zipcoda)

Sincerely,


There's no plot to speak of. You start off talking about a character who is dead.
You call the character several different things (by name, "mother" "princess" in the same paragraph which makes me stop and think about who you're talking about. This is not a good thing.

-------

In the end, her world turned on a small carving in stone. Propelled by the crowd behind her, Alyse stumbled to the side of the river of people and tried to remember how to breathe. She couldn't take her eyes off the small knot that she knew so well. How could this be? Her mother had told her the symbol was of a faraway seafaring tribe. Adjusting her cloak as she moved to the next stall, Alyse studiously kept from looking back at the door. When she'd looked at the bolts of cloth for a suitable amount of time, she looked back at the trestle table filled with piles of pottery.

(here's your starting point)
"Fancy a bowl, my dear?"At Alyse's confused look, the clothseller continued "Or a plate, or a nice vase?" Tobias does quality work. He's.. taking a break right now". The large woman continued winding a spool of ribbon. "we try to look out for his wares when he's working."

"Oh, thank you but no, I was just looking." Alyse said softly.

"Go ahead, he's quite good", and she waved alyse back over to the pottery table.

Six steps had never taken so long as she (this is a different she from the previous one. This makes me crazy) moved back and picked up a large platter. It was surprisingly beautiful, a pale green wash with a sprig of pussywillow glancing up the middle. "Don't drop it, don't drop it," Alyse thought as she turned it over to see the knot again. The knot of artisan's mark pierced her heart

Setting the platter down gently, Alyse turned to the neighboring stall and asked the woman, "Is he in?"

"Yes my dear, go right in," as her winding slowed, "the door should be open."


Yea well, ok, I like this.
(snarl)
I get all bent out of shape about these sucky query letters and then you give me something good enough to read, after pruning that first paragraph. I'd read the rest of the pages if you sent them. If you just had a momentary lapse with that first paragraph, I might ask for a partial. If I saw one more flabby paragraph though: ZAP.

25 comments:

Ryan Field said...

Ok, it's Friday night. I've been working on these for a solid week and I've held it in but now, NO MORE!! Why on Dog's Pink Tam do you use the word "entitled". You mean "titled; called; named; or baptized in the River Snark". I got out my threadbare red Websters vintage edition and looked up "entitled". Herewith: Entitle (vt---transitive verb) To give a title to; designate.

AMEN!

otto said...

Good writing that hints strongly of a conflict right up front. Like it. Not my genre, but so far, it's well done.

Bill Lee said...

There is no c in pique.

Anonymous said...

If the main character's mother "died in childbirth", wtf is up with "Her mother had told her the symbol was of a faraway seafaring tribe."??? huh? Tell me that.

Bernita said...

Wht not, "... fantasy, novel, "Seeing the Knot"?

Bernita said...

Oh, crap.
"fantasy novel, "Seeing the Knot."

Ray Goldensundrop said...

Took a few moments to realize shredded dics isn't a misspelling.

Cool, writers don't have to self-mutilate!

SAND STORM said...

"I want the people with shredded dics."

I had to read this twice, gave me the creeps.

mswas said...

This is my entry and I can't believe I made it - I was one of the reserve nubers.

anonymous - point well taken. Query letter is inaccurate - and sucky as well. Will revise, revise, revise!

Janet Black said...

Here's from my Thesaurus:

Entitle:
(transitive verb)

1. allow to claim
To give somebody the right to have or to do something (often passive)

2. give title to
To assign a title to something such as a book (usually passive)

3. give special title to
To confer an official position or honor on somebody that brings a particular title with it.

(So according to 2. it is a variation on 'title.' But I prefer plain old 'titled.'

Anonymous said...

I used "entitled" in my queries years ago. I got it from an example from a Nicholas Sparks query example in a book on writing proposals. The book was very popular and I’m sure others used the same example, thus the reason you find queries using “entitled.”

theraspberrycordial said...

Sorry this gave me the giggles cos Carnarvon is a large town here in Australia, famous for growing bananas...it's a real dump too

http://www.carnarvon.west-oz.com/

Okay I know your Carnavon has got one less 'r' but I just pictured this princess of the kingdom of bananas. Not so ludicrous when you know that bananas are worth their weight in gold almost (due to a cyclone a long while ago)... but I digress. Good luck with your pitch

xiqay said...

Why can't we spell the character's name "Alice"? Is Alyse cooler? This is a stupid reason for me not to read something, but there you have it-my personal preference, fwiw.

Congrats, author, on getting a little happy note from Miss Snark.

Virginia Miss said...

Wow, is this the first fantasy that Miss Snark sort-of-liked? Well done, author!

How about simply saying "75,000 word fantasy SEEING THE KNOT." without titled or 'fantasy novel.'

randomsome1 said...

I got stuck on the capitalization and punctuation errors. As an agent, you may approve, but as an editor I screech in horror and imagine the worst is yet to come.

Dear author: I would take this apart if given more beer (which means I’d like if you sent me a case or two). Right now, though, your work looks incredibly sloppy and uses words that don't really fit (the stuff that makes finished pottery shiny is glaze, not wash, and what's the pussy willow [two words] doing, looking back at her?).

Anonymous said...

White Setting Syndrome: the writer knows what's going on but ain't sharing it well with the reader.

Your ren. fair booth guy is "on a break?" How very 21st century mall kiosk of him.

You're going to have to do some real research (more than watching Anime films) to convince a modern fantasy reader to part with money to read your words.

Back in the day princesses were valued property in business deals and couldn't just fall for the bad boy in leather. I'm not buying your premise of the mom's elopement. Life was tough stuff for ladies with rich dads, and downright bloody awful for the rest. You had arrow fodder and serfs, and little in the way of middle-class tradespeople. Religion, as in an all-controlling church where you could be fined, beaten, or killed for not following the rules was a big noise, too.

Stuff your Disney Princess in the trunk, go to the library, and read some real history from those big, scary books with small print and no pictures.

Anonymous said...

More regarding 'entitled' vs 'titled' -

From an agency web site (check the last line):

"the author is the bestselling, award-winning author of such action classics as "___" (the basis for the blockbuster "__" movies); and dozens of other titles that have won him passionate fans around the world. His most recent novel is "___", a gripping, suspenseful thriller about urban explorers. He has also penned nonfiction titles including (six listed). David has a Ph.D. in American Literature from "____ State" and was formerly a professor in the English department of the University of ___. He is currently at work on a new thriller entitled "_____".

Even so, I much prefer plain, 'titled.'

FunkyPink said...

From dictionary.com

entitled

adj 1: qualified for by right according to law; "we are all entitled to equal protection under the law" 2: given a title or identifying name; "the book entitled `A Tale of Two Cities'"

I'd use entitled every time. Titled looks/sounds weirdly wrong to me -- I'm wondering if that's because I'm a brit though.

FunkyPink said...

Too much gin over the weekend Miss Snark? The same site you referenced for "entitle" also has "entitled" as: given a title or identifying name; "the book entitled `A Tale of Two Cities'"

baffled said...

OK, what am I missing?

The query letter was downright incoherent. The excerpt was boring. The punctuation was such a mess that it made the dialogue hard to read (and then the writer put thoughts in quotes--aiyeeee). The whole effort was amateurish in the extreme.

Why did Miss Snark see in this?

acd said...

I agree with randomsome1: there were lots of technical errors in the text, important and relatively simple stuff like punctuation and capitalization. You'll want to pick over this with a fine-toothed comb, or get someone else to do it.

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Caernarvon is also a town in Wales.

viscose turnip said...

'Stuff your Disney Princess in the trunk, go to the library, and read some real history from those big, scary books with small print and no pictures.'

But this is fantasy, not history, isn't it? I agree that the author has to make things convincing (and that Carnavon is a real place), but surely not every fantasy novel has to be rooted in a historically accurate depiction of the European Middle Ages?

(Otherwise, I'm with Randomsome and Baffled re the carelessness and errors - to which I'd add, you might check that you spell the characters' names consistently...)

mswas said...

Popping in again to the comment thread to say that I do know very well that this novel is not finished and is in no way ready to be sent off to agents. I rushed when I found out about the Crapometer, and it shows.

Thanks again to everyone who commented. Hopefully for the next crapometer I'll have something more polished... with a glaze, not a wash.

Anonymous said...

mswas, you're a good sport. I thought the Disney princess comment was a tad harsh. The fact you know how to take criticism, even harsh criticism, without pitching a fit is a good sign that you'll go far in this business.

I liked this.