9.09.2006

3rd SR Crapometer #99 plus 2

Dear Miss Snark,

A View from the Top is a satiric novel chronicling a year in the life of Alexa Dover, an ambitious and sarcastic twenty-three-year-old who has reluctantly accepted a position in the marketing department of a globally renowned software company. The company, affectionately dubbed the Factory by its swelling ranks of employees, has come to dominate its once-rural landscape, creating a modern company town full of competition, backstabbing, and gossip.

Alexa leads the reader through her corporate existence, from her collegiate recruiting experiences through her inauspicious opening days to her unprofessional colleagues and political manipulations. She rises and falls with her wit and honesty intact, and her
observations on the Factory's machinery makes her tale not only one of personal adversity but of the often-comical inner workings of today's technology industry.

I graduated from [Ivy League] in 2005 and have worked in marketing at [software company] for the past thirteen months. The novel is partially based upon these experiences.

Thank you for your consideration of my work.

Best regards,


Very few satiric novels are published in any given year. It’s a very very tough category. Satire tends not to backlist well. Novels with satiric elements fare better but you’ve got to have fabulous writing to carry it off.

Also, this novel has already been done. Max Barry wrote The Company and it’s front list this year. He’s set the bar pretty high.

These kind of “work place travails, isn’t corporate America stupid" novels from people who’ve been in the workplace for thirteen months set my teeth on edge. When I look back to the time I’d been working 13 months I cringe at how little I knew. Maybe that’s just me…but I’ll bet you a doughnut it’s not.


-----

They all lied. "Oh, such a great company. And it's so beautiful out there. If I had an opportunity like that, I would totally take it." They too had secured jobs, but in relevant and provocative locales such as Manhattan, and they could afford to be optimistically gracious in their assurances that I was on the fast track to success in the global corporate world which we had ostensibly spent the last four years preparing to enter. Their evident relief that another potential competitor had been neatly rendered insignificant by virtue of geographic and industrial exile made me cringe. I knew I had failed.

This knowledge was confirmed in early September, merely three months and several thousand miles after I had received my diploma – with honors, no less – on a glorious June day. It was new hire marketing training at the Factory, and as I stared at the distribution of schools to which the sixty of us had matriculated, I read state school, state school, obscure private college, state school times ten.

"We have the most selective hiring practices in the nation," recruiters had assured me. I, as a member of the upwardly mobile middle class for whom hard work and intelligence was rewarded with admission to a superior academic institution as designated by both reputation and highly objective rankings, now suspected this was false.

Ten months later, I find myself at a trade show in Boston with twenty of my organizational contemporaries. Ten of us are listening to the fifty-year-old woman whose office is next to mine complain about how infrequently she gets laid and contemplate ending her drought that
evening via an industry acquaintance with whom she's had a long-standing flirtation. Another divorcee, who functions as the executive assistant to our VP, is twenty feet away scamming on some suit. She is a few years older than me, and I am both horrified and fascinated by this scene. She catches me staring, and glares at me, and I can't hide a smirk as I turn away, knowing that if she sleeps with him, we will all find out and laugh about it for days behind
closed doors.

Ginny, the reluctant celibate, thinks I'm laughing at her. Fortunately, though she has power, I'm not in her chain of command. I give her my most disdainful look and announce my departure to the surrounding crowd. I've scored enough face time for this evening.

My manager decides to accompany me. "Have a good time, Alex?" she asks as we exit the bar in which I've been held captive with four hundred sweaty nerds for the past three hours.

"Sure," I reply. "I'm just exhausted. Long day in the booth."

"I bet you weren't expecting this much travel," she comments for the hundredth time since I began working for her.

In truth, I had no idea what to expect from the Factory, the world's largest technology company (and, as I've learned to recite enthusiastically, the number three global brand according to highly objective rankings). I am entirely disinterested in technology beyond
the consumption of entertainment. Two summers ago I was handed a plum internship through the connections of a relative concerned that my dreams of writing and producing artistically brilliant yet commercially successful films would lead me into yet more unpaid servitude with a former Hollywood lightweight constantly teetering on the brink of bankruptcy whose one-room office in Hell's Kitchen was accessible only via five flights of stairs. (did you even re-read this once before sending it? That sentence is 63 words with NO punctuation.)

This is a form rejection.

I was pre-disposed not to like it, and I don’t.
I can point out all the flaws but even if the writing had been good I probably wouldn’t have read much past the start.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

See, I like long sentences - but La Snark is right: you haven't quite got your punctuation working right yet.

Have you read Lynne Truss's book ('Eats, Shoots & Leaves')? She's very good on punctuation in long sentences, IMHO.

Dave said...

Max Barry's novel has a donut on the dust cover. Not only that it begins with a stolen donut.

"I'll bet you a donut"

Marry me you great witty person!
;)

Frainstorm said...

MS, you'd win the donut. Dollar says so.

lizzie26 said...

Autobiographical. And Ivy League boastful.

Anonymous said...

I thought this read like a very pale impersonation of The Devil Wears Prada. IMHO, if you want this to work then it needs to be MUCH funnier. You can't take several pages to build up to a joke - there needs to be a laugh every few paragraphs at least. You need to make the language work so much harder than it does at the moment.

srchamberlain said...

I really, really hated that she mentioned where she went to college. How in the world could that help?

And a software company? Not exactly Vogue.

Of course, I might have overlooked all of these things if the writing had been good. Which it wasn't. It didn't even rise to the level of Lauren Weisberger. One hates to say, "Find another story, or maybe another profession," but there it is.

Anonymous said...

Why go to an Ivy League college and end up working somewhere you hate? I’ve been working in Corporate America for almost nine years, and I’m just starting to understand the games, politics and backstabbing. I wouldn’t read a book by someone who has only lived in this hell for 13 months. You don’t have enough experience to know what really goes on. And after my first 13 months, I loved my job and was on cloud nine. It took about nine years before I saw what a real hell it is. So I suggest you get out now or you’ll be eaten alive.

Anonymous said...

That is one hell of a sentence! I felt like I was drowning.

McKoala said...

Got stuck. What's happening?

Anonymous said...

This has a lot of telling and backstory. We're sitting too firmly inside the main character's head, and not learning enough about what's around her.

Also, what is the central conflict for the novel going to be? I want to know that the book is building toward something, even if it is mostly a memoir. I don't have a lot of interest in just watching the events of a person's life scroll past without something to tie it all together and illuminate a larger truth.

I also didn't find the main character very sympathetic (she seems a tad nasty), but that may be your intention.

the 'author' said...

I'm new to the blog -- it may be poor form to post on one's own submission, but I want to try to prevent further repetition.

First of all, thanks to those who offered constructive commentary.

I don't dislike my day job (as some of you have suggested) and, somewhat unfortunately, I'm much better at it than I am at writing. I also don't pretend to be an expert on corporate America. Software's not glamorous, but the people and the office dynamics are often ludicrous, and I've been thinking about writing about them for awhile. When I came across this blog two weeks ago and discovered the crapometer it inspired me to make a first effort at capturing these thoughts... the (admittedly weak and desperately in need of punctuation, structure, plot, etc.) results are displayed here.

As for including my educational background in the query... it may have been an error in judgment but it was done for four reasons: (1) because I am used to writing formal cover letters, (2) because I have no writing background to include, (3) to validate my knowledge of the subject matter, and (4) because "publishing is a business" and these are marketable names.

Anonymous said...

When you have to explain yourself, then something's wrong. Just take the feedback you got and go with it. You sent your work to Miss Snark, what did you expect? Of course some people wouldn't like it and some will. Sounds like you can’t hack your day job or the publishing industry. Criticism comes with the territory. Get used to it. This is my first post to this one, but you sound very defensive. Not a good sign in this industry.

wonderer said...

anon said:

When you have to explain yourself, then something's wrong. Just take the feedback you got and go with it. You sent your work to Miss Snark, what did you expect? Of course some people wouldn't like it and some will. Sounds like you can’t hack your day job or the publishing industry. Criticism comes with the territory. Get used to it. This is my first post to this one, but you sound very defensive. Not a good sign in this industry.


Those are rather harsh words, anon. We were all newbies once, and some of us still are.

Author, you are allowed to respond to comments, but explaining yourself isn't necessary and it does come across as defensive.

Pay attention to the advice from the anon who posted right before you. Revise, if you like, or start something else. In any case, don't give up!

Writerious said...

"...and as I stared at the distribution of schools to which the sixty of us had matriculated, I read state school, state school, obscure private college, state school times ten..."

Statements like these cast the MC as an insufferable snob. I hope the plot includes a lot about her own personal growth, or this book is going nowhere. Readers want someone they can relate to. Snobs are hard to relate to. Snobs that get their come-uppance and learn from it are easier to relate to and to cheer for in the end.

After all, some of the best research institutions in the country are state schools.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like you can’t hack your day job..."

I really hate it when people who comment stray away from criticism of the writing and into the labyrinth of personal nastiness. It really isn't necessary.

Radicalfeministpoet said...

"...and as I stared at the distribution of schools to which the sixty of us had matriculated, "I read state school, state school, obscure private college, state school times ten."
...Statements like these cast the MC as an insufferable snob....Readers want someone they can relate to. Snobs are hard to relate to.


Rubbish and balderdash! I for one like snobs. Maybe that's because I'm a snob myself; I have an awful lot to be snobby about. I too despise state schools; I went to Harvard ('82) and I'm better than people who didn't. Maybe snob-lit is a niche market, but it's a niche that's got dosh, so write on, sister, write on!

Anonymous said...

"Software's not glamorous, but the people and the office dynamics are often ludicrous, and I've been thinking about writing about them for awhile."

Judging from your comments and your first page what you have here is an idea. My advice would be to write down in your journal the dialogue and situations that strike you as funny and see if they start to gel into a story. You also need to decide how ultimately you--and by extension your narrator--feels about these people and the company. Is this story an entertaining, Dilbertesque look at the foibles of corporate life? Is it a coming of age in the workplace story? Is it a finding out what you really want to do with your life story? When you know the answers to these questions, the book will start to come together.