Change of Schedule

We've got 25 more to go on the Crapometer but I won't be able to finish them today.

I'll finish them next weekend.

This really has ended up emulating the slush pile: full of good intentions, I find myself falling farther and farther behind.

We'll get there, but never as fast as you want.

Why do I smell hot tar and hear chickens?


Anonymous said...

Remember that wonderful music when the monkey soldiers were marching into the Wicked Witch's castle while the cowardly lion and company watched from the rocks?


You might want to review that before reading more comments because I think I hear the snarklings gathering overhead.

Poor Miss Snark - you need a rest.

Sign Me,

A Concerned Snarkling

been here before said...

It's probably my fault, because I sent to you. Agents always get backed up when I send stuff.

Sorry, other 24. Sorry, Miss Snark.

type, monkey, type said...

Oh God, thank you for cutting me off. I've got this deadline, see, and I can't stop reading your blog.

Bless you for your slush slogging on a holiday weekend.

Nate said...

As the author of upcoming #79, I don't look forward to another week of choppy sleep by wondering if you'll destroy me (yeah, believe it or not, that's how wound up I was last night, ha ha). :) But who can blame you if you've had enough work during a weekend you should be relaxing? Thanks so much for all the input, Miss Snark! You're very generous to give so much of yourself, and, like others said, it's so educational to read all the entries.

Word verification is kwwzzwbhy, the sound of my suppressed sob by coming up four short of greatness (though I might regret it next weekend!)

PaQueenie said...

No tar or feathers here. Just appreciation for what you've done over the weekend -- I've learned a lot.

Thank you (and Killer Yap, too).

Anonymous said...

Tar and feathers? KY might enjoy the chicken carcasses, but I think that's a bit hard.

My query and page are part of the remaining 25. Although I was looking forward to your evisceration this weekend, I can enjoy your snarktastic wisdom next weekend.

Enjoy a well-deserved rest!

- M

Anonymous said...

Here's what I note on the reading end of all these queries and first pages. Writer Chuck Rosenthal (The Loop Trilogy, My Mistress, Humanity) believes that the aesthetic of the teleplay and screenplay is pervasive. Writers don't seem to learn from literature how to write, they're learning from the screen. Never has this been more apparent than in the dialogue of these many many submissions. Miss Snark has confined her comments mostly to issue of plot. But I maintain that these submissions are not working on a whole other level. Let me amend that. The genre fiction, the popular fiction, it's silly to apply any real critical apparatus beyond deciding whether or not the story telling is successful. But the ones that purport to be literary. Reexamine that dialogue. Q&A is the arena of the screenplay. There, characters have to deliver information. In literary fiction, no such requirement is in effect. Scenes should arise when competing agendas of characters come in contact with one another and what they say or don't say should come from that agendas as filtered through a worldview. Dialogue should be necessary, not a placeholder within the text. You can accomplish just as much in summary dialogue as direct so that when you do you use direct dialogue, it will be significant. How many of these pieces do we find the first introduction to a character via dialogue is a character saying, "Hello." That would make me stop reading.

S. W. Vaughn said...

No angry mobs here. The normal process takes four to six weeks, so a week and a half is a cakewalk.

You're still a saint.

(And I'm with the type monkey -- thank you for letting me get back to my deadline. Or possibly finishing Koontz' Life Expectancy, which I also can't stop reading. I'll look forward to next weekend. :-)

Anonymous said...

This sounded a lot like work to me, but you have no idea how grateful I am. I've learned so much in this exercise - other than how to hit the F5 key to see the updates.

Thanks, Miss Snark and thank you, KY, for all your effort.

December Quinn said...

No tar and feathers here. Take a break--it was supposed to be a relaxing three-day weekend.

First Anonymous said...

Talk about a WTF-comment! First Anonymous needs to go outside - NOW!

And of course, I'm First Anonymous.

Slaps forehead, makes beeline for door.

Time's Ocean said...

S'all good, MS!

Take a load off...even what you've done with the Crapometer thus far has been tremendously helpful for me. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for your work on this, Miss Snark! Enjoy the holiday.

Anonymous said...

Dear dog, woman - Give yourself a break! You have a real paying job to do for the rest of the week, yanno. Otherwise, how will poor KY be kept in the gourmet kibble to which he (is KY a he?) has become accustomed? I too am one of the nameless remaining few, but frankly, I'd rather have you happy and rested for my comments than grumpy and tired.

Rest on Labor Day!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you've managed to get this far!
Have a well-deserved rest, you deserve every minute of it.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Tar and feathers? More like gin and roses. You rock, Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

No condemnation here. Is it just me, or was the crap pile especially, well, crappy this time around?

I think the random number generator had it in for you, Miss Snark.

Thanks for reminding me why I didn't look for an editorial assistant job after college.

Daisy said...

Heroic effort
Too much for a holiday
Twenty-five to go

Lauren said...

It definitely does resemble a slush pile--something with which I have experience. Ugh. It's why I've stopped reading for the last few days. And why I will check back AFTER next weekend. Best o' luck to you, MS.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that the reaon you decided to ditch the rest (for now) is because something too fun to say no to popped up. But you don't have to admit that, of course!

Thank you for all your hard work, Miss Snark. You are a saint in stilettos!

Anonymous said...

I didn't enter this "contest" but am both enjoying the entries and your reviews. There is much for me to learn here - what to do, what not to do, and the importance of reading instructions and following directions.

Thank you for taking your time and providing us with this treasure chest of wisdom.

overdog said...

Woohoo! Hot tar and chickens! A Labor Day barbecue! It's a holiday and Miss Snark has a life!

I haven't been able to get anything done besides reading your blog, and I've got company coming over.

This is all fascinating and I look forward to getting back to it. Thanks to all, especially MS.

Chumplet said...

Now that we have a pause, I guess I have to hem my kids' school uniforms for their first day of school tomorrow.

Maria said...

Yeah, we're likely to tar and feather someone who is going waaaaay beyond the call of duty and providing a service for free that no one else will. Uh-huh.

Actually, I'll direct snarkling wrath my way by saying, We could have learned most of the lessons with about 50 entries (maybe less).

It's utterly astounding how many of us make the same mistakes.

Ergo, next crapometer...

I know, I know. Words on an actual piece of writing from the esteemed Miss Snark is not quite the same thing as learning from other's mistakes. But I'd rather have Miss Snark be able to do SOME entries rather than go bald from her hair being on fire. We don't want the great Miss Snark to stop the crapometer completely because the mere thought of it brings her to tears.

You're a peach Miss Snark. You're entitled to time for yourself, time for your real clients and well, the Clooney in your life. Tell KY my cat sends kisses. I think she said kisses and not hisses.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Miss Snark. I'm one of the final 25. Any chance of resubmitting it, based on all I've learned in the last few days? (I can just hear your comments now: NO PLOT, WHO CARES, START HERE!) Thanks for the phenomenal work you've done so far - any chance of resubmitting?

Virginia Miss said...

To the Divine Miss S,

You mean I won't have an excuse not to WRITE? Reading the crapometer has been a delicious distraction -- my eyes have been glued to the blog all weekend. Of course I can easily justify it, since it's so educational.


Jude Hardin said...

I wasn't one of the lucky winners, but I've posted my entry on my blog if anyone wants to have a rip at it. I would appreciate any comments and suggestions.

P.N. Elrod said...

Glad I am for the break for I have a deadline, too.

YOU are too danged addictive!

Take a break, we can hold out. I can get some work done.

Regards to KY from my lovely lady fur angels, Megan & Sasha. They'd like to take him out sometime for a chicken broth martini if brunette sisters are his type.

Sal said...

For those of you who are looking for writerly entertainment while Miss Snark takes a well-deserved break, Dr Zen is offering a workshop, critiquing all comers on his blog.

Zen is a British freelance editor, working in Australia, who usually works on dull boring science and finance. Looking for something more entertaining, and wanting to show off his chops, he detailed an assignment and offered to critique the pieces that came in.

Check his blog archives for anything labeled Workshop: So far four willing victims have thrown work into his cage.

I don't always agree with him (especially not on the subject of Oxford/Harvard/serial commas), but his insights are frequently interesting.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you're hearing tar and smelling hot chickens. We've got something really special in store for you.

rick said...

Miss Snark...Thanks for your time this Labor Day weekend to provide insights into what is an effective query letter and pointing out openings that grab your attention. It once again reminds us of the cold harsh truth that publishing is a business, not a game, and not to skimp on the effort to create a query letter for the novel one may have worked on for years.

I will never send a query letter that doesn't have, at least, 75 words devoted to plot. I see the point made often.

I will never send an opening chapter that has backstory within the first two pages. (I quickly check my WIP and wipe the sweat of relief from my brow.)

I will always send a doggie treat coupon with my query, hoping that KY resides with the agent to whom I'm sending my query.

Looking forward to sending out revised queries in October. Hope I flop onto your desk.


Feisty said...

Enjoy your gin-soaked holiday and rest up for your next trip into snarktivity.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Miss Snark and all of you brave writers who have sent in your work!

I can't tell you how much I've learned from reading the comments over the last few days!!

Sarah said...

Thanks for doing this Miss Snark. I have found the entire exercise monumentally depressing, for some reason.

I can't believe a) the atrocious standard of most of the writing, b) the barf-inducing level of arse-licking and c)that some of these people are pinning their hopes on becoming great writers, when they can't write for toffee. It's like The X Factor. No luv, you sound like shite, you can't sing, get off.

It's all a bit car crash TV really, horrible :(

I don't envy the job of a literary agent :(

And I hate having to revert to using a pseudonym when I loathe using pseudonyms, but I've had my wrists slapped on here before for criticising a writer's ability under my real name.

All in all, you have my sympathy La Snarkesse, big buckets of it.

The highlight of the week? #49, twelve year old Katie. Great future, that gal.

BuffySquirrel said...

Dagnabbit. I specifically ordered DUMB chickens, but the guy at the store told me there ain't no other kind.

Lexie Ward said...

That's okay. I still haven't stopped laughing over the "kicking ass for Jesus" comment. That should hold me over til next weekend.

Us preacher's kids have odd senses of humor.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Use the pause to go back to the original example and comment on the writing.

I'd like a comment on the actual writing sample. Someone? Please?


Stuart said...

No tar and feathers, but I'd like a new rule to be instituted next time you open up the Crapometer: Every entry with "fiction novel" in it gets disqualified from crap o meter. :)

And leave more room for the rest of us. ;) Thanks for doing this. As always, it's eye opening.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Anonymous,

You have cotton in your ears! The words the soldiers sing in Wizard of Oz are, "Oh, we love the old one." Honest. Give it a second listen.

Anonymous said...

Question for anonymous who talked about Chuck Rosenthal:

Can you suggest a book or two where summary and direct dialogue are used correctly? ... or even more helpful, specific scenes within those books that are good illustrations of this use

Most appreciated if you can. Thanks

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

apprently, I have cotton in my ears. Thanks to the person who emaied me this:

There are many alleged lyrics to the "Winkie Chant" performed by the Witch's guards, including "All we own, we owe her", "Oh we love the old one", and "Oh we loathe the old one". However, the correct version, seen in the film's screenplay, is "O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!" and any other interpretations are simply the result of the listener's mind treating the chant as an audio ink blot.

From Wizard of Oz Trivia

katiesandwich said...

I totally agree with the "kick ass for Jesus" comment. Funny stuff there.

Anonymous said...

No hot tar and chickens from me-but perhaps hot coals and smoky barbecued chicken, as chaser for the gin pail that Miss Snark so richly deserves.

You've been doing a great job. Thanks.

K.L. said...

When I was a kid, we sang, Or-e-o, Na-BIS-co. How's that for an audio ink blot?

Miss Snark, Hope tomorrow's real slush brings a query for Stillettoes, Poodles, and Gin: My Search for the Perfect Woman. I suppose if Mr. Clooney called it a nonfiction memoir, we could forgive him.

McKoala said...

It's been a wild ride - not surprised you need a break!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Miss Snark, don't worry. The tar and feathers are for the really snarky posters who are rubbing salt into writers' fresh wounds. I still have a query waiting in the Crapometer, and I was so relieved when my sister called and told me you were taking a break, I jumped up and hollered right there in the parking lot outside Starbucks.

I know the Crapometer is supposed to be a good learning experience, but I was about to die from the fear and certainty that (a) my query could be posted at any time, and (b) it would be snarkalicious.

("Snarkalicious" does mean "prime fodder for being snarked on," doesn't it?)

Thank you so much for the reprieve! You've done so much for us Snarklings, you deserve a break. And so do we!

Breathing again until next weekend,
A Snarkling On Tenterhooks

Bella Stander said...

Enjoy your well-deserved rest, Miss Snark!

Meanwhile, we Snarklings can get some handy-dandy writing pointers (OK, actually a big laugh) from The Bargain Book Bin: I Rewrite The Classics.

Maria said...

Princess of Pixies,

That link goes to a comment--maybe if you just list the entry number?

Anonymous said...

I sort-of agree with "sarah" above, except I haven't found the low quality depressing. Next time I read that an agent receives two trillion queries a year but only takes on one new client, I can be reassured that most of those queries were probably awful, so the chance of being that one client isn't quite as remote as it once seemed. Plus, in some ways I think reading bad writing is actually more instructive that reading good writing: with good writing, I tend to get too caught up in enjoying the story and stop noticing the "nuts and bolts".

BuffySquirrel said...

I vote we tar and feather this anonymous rather than Miss Snark.

The genre fiction, the popular fiction, it's silly to apply any real critical apparatus beyond deciding whether or not the story telling is successful. But the ones that purport to be literary.

As silly as expecting literary fiction to have a plot? Maybe?

Take your attitude and shove it.

Anonymous said...

S'hael - I knew they weren't singing any real words - I've seen the bloomin' thing at least 50 times. My version was just a best effort at repeating the rythmics of the chant.


JacklynKy said...

75 entries over a holiday weekend? You have already gone above and beyond what most people would do. Even though I got stung by your analysis, I appreciate the opportunity. I wonder how many of your colleagues think you are insane for doing this?

Sue said...

Replying to Sarah.

I understand what you are saying, but I am more concerned about those entries where there is a blantant disregard for the instructions of this exercise (a query-as-if-you-are-sending-a-real query plus writing sample, not a thanks-for-the-crapometer plus sample) AND, perhaps more importantly, the obvious inablility to either LEARN from past postings on this blog or the misguided thought that they don't need no stinkin' lessons. (ie: Ms vs Miss Snark, not mentioning what type of work or word count, blathering on and on about your personal life)

The "bad writing" is actually instructive, be it story structure or prose. I make some of these mistakes. I am taking the lessons to heart. Of course, there are some entries where I wonder if the author is pulling Miss Snark's well-stockinged leg. I can only hope this is the case.

I am not posting anonymously, as I think the point of this exercise is learning, and most of us are, even those who entered. Those who are offended because I dissed them for not following instructions -- too bad. There are days I wish I were a traffic cop with a ticket quota to meet. I'm not. This will suffice.

Time's Ocean said...

I've heard 'literary fiction' called 'hipster fiction' and on some levels, I agree. The existential crisis of some twenty-something isn't always interesting. And yes, I know that's not all that literary fiction is about, but based on the books we get in the store, it might as well be.

What's so wrong with good-ol', home-grown, farm-fresh fiction? Jeez, kids these days. *grin*

-c- said...

Princess of Pixies wrote the Crapometer EXAMPLE, and she's been asking us to comment on her WRITING instead of just the format. That's what the link was about. I've done it, because I have this very important deadline so it seemed like the thing to do.


Anonymous said...

tar and feather my ass. (that didn't sound right)
MS, you're doing a favor and you can't impose on someone when they're doing something they don't have to.

Anonymous said...

Answering the anonymous who wants to see a demonstraton of summary dialogue and direct dialogue. Janet Burroway's textbook, Writing Fiction, has detailed explanations and examples.

Anonymous said...

buffysquirrel, you apparently don't have a firm grasp of what plot is. Even Robbe-Grillet's so-called "new novels" have plot in them. It's the degree of plot. Literary novels tend to foreground language, character, psychology. Plot is present but it may be slight. You don't have to blow up the world to make a plot, sometimes, you can just grow old.

class-factotum said...

Miss Snark,

I am glad that you did not choose my piece for review. After reading your critiques of the other submissions, I can see already where I made big mistakes. I have learned a lot from what you and the other commenters have said.

I have been mentally rewriting since Saturday. I will submit a much better (I hope!) piece the next time you do this. Thanks for being so generous with your time.

Harry Connolly said...

I'm with Buffysquirrel

Anonymous said...

I vote next time Miss Snark heavily, heavily suggests that whatever is sent to her is far more polished and at least sent off to one of her competitiors before her. Like Evil Editor or the crapometer blog, or any critique group because some of them were obviously not screened beforehand and there was PLENTY of time to do so. (I helped to polish one of the entries here which didn't get a "this sucks" kind of comment, but no partial either.)

I would have imploded having to read all of those entries. I don't blame her for getting more cross as she works through the pile. So here's to you Miss Snark with a nice bottle of gin! I'm sure you'll need a few bottles after this is done--I would.

Termagant 2 said...

I add my negativity on tar & feathers to that of the others. Miss Snark, thank you for the Crapometer as a public service.

I can't send gin, but how about some really good chocolate?


Writerious said...

I briefly thought about some kind of basic literacy screening of entrants. (Did the writer follow the rules? Did the writer read the rules? Is the writer above all rules? How precious.) But the Divine Miss Snark is already generously donating her time just to run the crapometer on the randomly-selected pieces. Imagine the time needed if the entrants were pre-screened. Maybe if a select group of snarklings volunteered it could be done, but I'd certainly not expect Miss Snark, who has a living to earn, gin to buy, and KY to feed, to triple (or more) the time she's already putting into this.

Huzzah, Miss Snark! I hope these will all be archived for later study. There's a book's worth of useful information in what I've read already.

BuffySquirrel said...

buffysquirrel, you apparently don't have a firm grasp of what plot is.

anonymous, you clearly don't have any grasp at all of what irony is.

Go look it up in the dictionary and then read my comment again. Sheesh.

K.L. said...

Regarding a better screening next time, I actually find the quality of the samples instructive and encouraging.

For one thing, it makes me see why you have to grab the attention of an agent or editor so quickly--because they already know that the chances are that you're a form rejection, and they want to get on to the good stuff. I know I've made up my mind within sentences with some of these. To have a chance to experience that mental state is really helpful.

Secondly, man, does it make me feel like my chances are better than average. A competent query and strong pages stand out--at least in the crapometer.

Miss Snark, does this really approximate what you see in your slush?

Anonymous said...

I found this sad because I felt that many parts of it lacked proper self-screening. I felt that many of the entries didn't get any kind of feedback before being sent out. Basic spelling mistakes, grammar errors, etc show that. It's not the structuring of the entries and how fast the entries get to the action--far more than that. It's the sloppy and stupid mistakes that could have fixed if that person had bothered for 2 seconds to send it out to someone else. Which wastes everyone's time. Do people really send out things they haven't tried to polish and wrote up last night? Is it really that umm... crappy normally?

At least use crapometer.blogspot or Evil Editor, or writer.com or Forward Motion, or Toasted cheese. Even Nanowrimo is better than NOTHING. Basic mistakes can be caught. Ask for a harsh critique, the kind that burn your socks off at the North Pole and listen, try it out and see if it works. THEN come to Miss Snark. Please. Spare us.

I object to people not trying their best and treating this as the real thing. I don't appreciate half-efforts. It makes me rather pissed. Because even if it wasn't me I'd like to have seen serious efforts rather than half-baked efforts.