12.16.2006

Get the fucking Clue Gun

It's a little late now, but for next time you might take into account that your blog readers can't intuit your intentions. You said "hook," something with a multitude of meanings within the craft. As someone who came in on this only last week, and who made a search of the links you provided--and as one of those who misunderstood--it might be useful to see the chain of reasoning that followed my reading of what you provided:

Hook? What's that? Does she mean in a query? I can't tell, there doesn't seem to be anything that says, "this is what I want, and this is what I mean by hook."

A query? She never mentions the word, and at a single page a query is no more then five-hundred words long. And in any case the hook in a query is no more then a couple of paragraphs, so there would be nothing more to send.


What about past crap-o-meters? Hmm... This one is all scenes and that one is queries. No help there.

The rear cover blurb? No, that's not seven hundred words long, and the author doesn't get to write that.

But... Okay, in music a hook is what makes you come back in the song, so I guess she must be talking about the hook in the opening of the story that makes the reader turn to the next page saying, "I wonder what happens next." That fits the format of two submissions she mentioned, so...
- - - - - - - - - - -
One piece of advice I always give new writers is avoid the mistake of "you know what I mean," when writing. I guess it applies to agents, too.



Yea, I see I've made a huge mistake.
How about I just stop right now.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

"As someone who came in on this only last week"...

you're obviously not actually one of Miss S's blog readers. She's been discussing and explaining this for over a month.

Please don't presume to speak for those of us who are readers here, and learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth (do you have ANY IDEA how big a deal it is for Miss S to do this for us?). You whiny idiot.

Stopping now before really unleash my pent-up rage.

Heather said...

One piece of advice I often give people is, "Don't bitch and moan when someone gives you something for free." Given that there were numerous posts explaining what Miss Snark wanted, AND given her tremendous generosity in giving us this service for free, complaining about your lack of understanding makes one of you look bad. And it ain't Miss Snark.

For what it's worth, I have two hooks in the pipeline. No matter what Miss Snark says about them, I will appreciate her time and effort. Too bad not everyone can do likewise.

Anonymous said...

No, the problem is that a ton of ameture writers such as this guy don't understand what a hook is.
Google is your friend.
BTW, peole who blame all their writing failures on someone else NEVER get published because they never learn a damn thing.
What an ass.

A.R.P.

Anonymous said...

What'll it be, Miss S., Beefeaters, Gilbey's or Gordon's?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Someone peed in his Cheerios this morning.

Either that, or he didn't like being told that he sucks.

Please don't stop because one moron never learned the words 'Thank You'.

Anonymous said...

I think most people who sent in their hooks knew what they were getting into.
I'm so grateful and in awe of the time you're spending here. And whether you like mine or not (it hasn't come up yet), it will be a million times more helpful than "thanks, but not for us."

Kate said...

While I have 2 more waiting, I've already had one, and I know that her comments were tremendously helpful to me, and refined my entire idea into something much more solid. I think the fact that she is devoting HOURS of her free time to helping us is incredible, and no matter what kind of feedback I get, I'm grateful for it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

I've been reading writing blogs for the past six months, trying to learn how to polish and submit my novel. Never have a felt moved to comment on any blog until now. Please don't stop.

You're doing us an incredible service by posting your thoughts on the entries. I deeply appreciate your work.

Most sincerely,
An unpublished writer who may have a chance someday, thanks to the advice of you and others like you.

angie said...

There will always be idiots who seek to compensate for their lack of intelligent research by pointing the finger at the wrong person. Always. But they ARE NOT speaking for the majority of us snark-aholics. You've taken on a monumental task with this crapometer and it is much appreciated - no matter what this fuckwit says.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with eveyone who hates you now for being a jerk.

Let the comments role because you've started a tidal wave.

WTF? Didn't you like your response? hint, hint.

Anonymous said...

Agree with above.

---

I just realised I screwed up my chances. In the moment of madness I have rewritten the 'hook thing' and after hitting the send button, I realised that I have a typo.

F-ck!

M.D.

ya author said...

What a crybaby letter.

Miss Snark, I wish I could send you a dozen roses.

I know this heap-o-crap-o-meter is tons of work for you. I think the thing I've gotten most out of it so far is how overwhelming it must be to be an agent and receive so many sucky query letters DAY AFTER FREAKING DAY.

After all, how many of these so far have been good enough for pages? Bet you can count 'em on one hand.

Makes me realize how NOT ready I have been when submitting in the past.

What's really scary is that MY submission is in the 200+ range. You have miles to go before you sleep, my dear. I feel kind of bad for you, thinking how this has got to be a gargantuan task.

Hang in there, Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

Hmm....methinks someone didn't read the FAQs very carefully....

Kristi said...

I'm new to the game, too. And this is exactly why this exercise is useful...writing a hook is NOT about following a formula. If it were, we'd all be turning in the same three point Snark-approved outline. And the whole exercise would be useless.

Just try again.

But don't mess with Miss Snark. She'll cut you.

Noelle Ashley said...

If you didn't submit the perfect hook, please don't blame Miss Snark. Her blog linked readers to sample hooks, so just learn from it and silently thank her. I say "silently" because I know that if I were Miss Snark, I would NOT want to waste my valuable work time with thousands of thank you e-mails from strangers.

Of course, thousands of negative, ungrateful emails would be even worse.

Noelle Ashley
www.internationaljetsetter.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Johnny come lately go home.

The rest of us did what she said and sent what we wanted to. And now we are awaiting our turn on the gristmill of knowledge.

Or did you miss the note about thick skins only need apply? What a whiney-baby. "I didn't understand what you wanted because I was trying to read way too much into it because I'm so great that you'll definitely want to represent me."

WTF? All you've done is again remind people why they don't want to help out one another- it gets you sued or killed. Literally or figuratively.

Since it is my birthday today I get one wish. I wish you to disappear and never come back here. We don't need your kind.

Anonymous said...

Please don't stop now!

Think of all the hapless agents and their overworked assistants you are rendering aid to by explaining why our hooks are crap and making us better, uh, hookers

Kat said...

Um....

From The Happy Hooker Crapometer Blog FAQs:

2. The "hook" - do you mean the first 250 words of the piece or do you mean just any 250 words from the first chapter that you (the reader) feels is the best hook scene from it?

I mean 250 words that get my attention. You don't have to use the first 250 or any 250 actually in the book. Read the examples posted above.


1. Is the impending Crapometer hook a dust-jacket hook or an agent hook? Or do you consider them the same?

First things first. You're working on a query letter. Get MY attention first, then we'll worry about the guys actually forking over dough.


This blog is mentioned repeatedly, is linked in the sidebar, and was directly linked in a post a couple of days ago detailing what the Crapometer was and where we could find more info on it.

It's easy to miss stuff. I sympathize -- I've made some dumb mistakes in my time, in comparison to which this is merely a blip. But in general the thing to do is wince, admit the mistake, apologize if necessary, and go on. Excuses don't really endear you to anyone.

Better luck next Crapometer.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Nothing can be done about those who don't grock the value of this crapometer. Mastery of the hook can make the difference between who gets the request for a partial or full and who squanders the next five years frustrated that only form rejections come back in their carefully packaged SASEs.

Anybody who can't handle having Miss Snark tell them their baby is ugly can save themselves the embarrassment by requesting she doesn't waste her time and everybody else's giving an honest critique.

This isn't about YOU, author. These crapometers are learning experiences one normally pays mucho dinero to receive at the better writers' conferences. Miss Snark is one of the seven hundred some odd who have the connections and clout to get your baby in front of the very people who will cut you a check for it, print it on paper and put it before the public eye.

I want to hear what she has to say. It may make the difference for me between rejected and book deal. If you don't want to hear what she has to say, that's easily remedied by never visiting her blog again.

An-on-i-moose said...

Hmmm, makes me think of the Rolling Stones. "You can't always get what you want. . .but you get what you need." I'd say the delicious Miss Snark (and I'm a big ol' vegetarian!) just gave you what you needed.

Jeremy James said...

I concur. Don't presume to speak for me. Even if *I* end up misunderstanding what a "hook" is supposed to be, having Miss Snark point out my ignorance will be a valuable learning experience. Take a deep breath.

Anonymous said...

Dear Clueless,
The point of the exercise is to LEARN what agents and editors look for...the point is not to inform agents and editors that in YOUR world, they just aren't performing up to par. I hope you reach a point in your life where you are able to look back on what you wrote here and use it to begin understanding yourself a little better because of it. Otherwise, you're going to be giving a lot of those "new writers" a lot of bad advice for a very long time. And that would be sad.

You're stuck in defensive mode. Only you can get yourself out...

--A. N. Other-Snarkling

CM said...

The person in question obviously failed to figure out that you were supposed to send 250 words at most, not 700, and failed to read the four example hooks that were, I think, extraordinarily informative.

Most people managed to get it right. If you got it wrong, maybe, just maybe, you should blame someone other than the person who pointed out your mistake.

Thanks, Miss Snark. I've already learned a ton reading your comments on other entries. No matter what you do, we still love you.

TrulyHestia said...

Thanks, Miss Snark, for all the time you're giving. I think most people knew exactly what they were getting into. (And you did warn the thin-skinned)
You haven't posted mine yet, but I'm sure that whether you like it or not, it will be a zillion times more helpful than, "Thanks, but not for us."

Anonymous said...

I AM a reader of the blog and I have to admit, I couldn't figure out exactly what Miss Snark was asking for. So I sent nothing.

Reading submissions to this point, it appears many others were perplexed. There is everything from query-style letters, to opening chapters to what might make a great pitch at a writer's conference to the sales pitch on the dust cover.

What might have been clear as a bell (cliche, I know) to some was, apparently, clear as mud to others.

But still, this is a gift of Miss Snark's time and with the undogly number of submissions, I'm sure we will all learn something of value before this thing is done.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Dude. None of us is whining about being called nitwits or hearing "WTF?" and not having pages requested. As anon up there says -- don't speak for US. If you have to complain about getting something for free, apply it to yourself.

Keep giving your advice to writers if you want, but don't try and advise agents. You aren't one.

It really, really sucks when you try to do something nice for people and get shit for it. And if you have been reading this blog for a whole week, you must have seen the post that says "be prepared to hear this sucks, WTF, etcetera" -- right? It shouldn't be a big surprise.

You're new here. Okay, fine. Miss Snark still considered your hook, cuz she's cool like that. But you know, even without you "knowing the rules", this is still just plain rude and insulting.

Anonymous said...

"And in any case the hook in a query is no more then a couple of paragraphs, so there would be nothing more to send."

See, you got it. Duh?

And she gave fair warning that her responses would be snarkly.

I am in absolute AWE of Miss Snark for willingly wading through hundreds of these things.

Gerri said...

Jeez, the person who wrote the letter is an ass. Nothing like Miss Snark, who is an asset. Amazing what two letters will do to meaning.

Even if the method of hook is different throughout the business, the purpose of hook isn't. Get their attention and make them want to read it.

Whoever sent this letter: GO AWAY AND DON'T COME BACK. You're a negative person--the spoiled apple in a barrel. I'm in this barrel, too, and I really don't appreciate your stink.

Anonymous said...

To put in perspective how generous Miss Snark is being with her time, my number is above 600.

Thank you, Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this in the first place, Miss Snark. I can't imagine the amount of work you must be putting in.

What you're doing is immeasurably helpful, and most of us really appreciate it. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

MISS SNARK HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!!!!


E

Author of Evil said...

Miss Snark, puh-LEASE do not stop. My number is in the high 400's. There are bound to be many more e-mails from sour, snivelling morons before your word-whacker makes it to the high 400's. Next time you get one of these, please just post the e-mail address of the offender on the blog. Your loyal subjects will take care of it.

(Oh, yes, whiners, I WILL sign you up for every crazy, evangelical newsletter on the internet. I've done it before. Ask Joel at lightinuniverse.com if you don't believe me. Well, actually, you can't ask Joel--his mailbox is full.)

Kim said...

I don't have anything in the pipeline - unfortunately life got too crazy... *sigh*

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole idea of a hook to entice someone to want to read the rest of the damn thing? A movie trailer, if you will, as opposed to a book review?

Of course, if I am wrong, it wouldn't be the first time.

Either way - I'd hate to see this one whiner ruin it for the rest of us. I'm looking towards the next COM...

word ver= eiznob (a french snob, perhaps?)

Wiley said...

Crap. When you said hook, I thought you wanted something about pirates. Ya know, like Captain Hook. It took me forever to make my novel sound like it was about pirates even though it's about elderly ladies in a nursing home rebellion. WTF? I feel totally hoodwinked.

Ryan Field said...

I was hoping for at least one pejorative today (and one that didn't have to do with my hook)...Thanks Miss Snark, this really is appreciated. The things learned from the last crapometer were invaluable, and I don't think the people who follow this blog ever take it for granted.

Jenn Moffatt said...

I think someone needs some bread and cheese to go with their whining....

Jenn Moffatt said...

I think someone needs a little bread and cheese to go with their whine...

Anonymous said...

U suc and WTF? but, I am sure this has been covered so far. LOL

Up the Snarkpublic! said...

Down with whiners!

WitLiz Today said...

This is wrong on so many complicated levels I don't even know where to begin, so I'll let my friends help me out.

"One ungrateful man does an injury to all who stand in need of aid."

Publilius Syrus

"Ingratitude is treason to mankind."

James Thomson

"Ingratitude is the essence of vileness."

Immanuel Kant

"SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

WitLiz Yada

katiesandwich said...

Wow. Someone peed in his Cheerios this morning.

I peed all over myself when I read that. Well, not literally. Oh, and WTF? All my thoughts have been expressed by others in this comment trail, and probably stated better than I could have done. This person is ungrateful and crazy.

Birthday Anon: Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

Don't you worry about him, Miss Snark. Us Snarklings will take great pleasure in giving him exactly what he deserves where he deserves it with the clue gun. You just sit back and have a nice pail of gin or two, and don't bother your flaming head about that sorry, whiny ratbag.

And let me say this: every Crapometer you've held has made me a better writer. You're a beacon for us all. Or maybe that's just your hair on fire again?

Anonymous said...

Look, loser, Miss Snark isn't around to explain what a 'hook' is. A hook is a hook, and if you can't understand 250 words what would be the point of reading the 80,000 you call a 'novel'? If you're going to write, you better figure out how to learn BEFORE you submit things.

At least this way you get something. When no one tells you what a 'query' is you're going to get a bunch of form letters.

And FTR, 'hook' has only one meaning for an author, and those of us who don't know it looked it up first.

BernardL said...

A writer must have an ego, and it must have lead shielding. If not, each time you offer your work for public viewing, your head might explode, depending on the varied feedback you receive. The Snark is very funny, and if she takes the time to launch these incomprehensibly tedious crapometers, giving feedback in the most entertaining way imaginable, we aspiring writers should simply say thank you. I’ve spent the morning, drinking coffee and ROTFLMAO, because this is my first crapometer. My turn will come, and I hope someone else gets a laugh from reading the Snark’s comment on my own beloved hook. :)

Calamity Jane said...

Yo Snark. You want I should take time outta my busy day to pay a little visit to this joker? A couple a broken legs goes a long way to teaching a little respect, know what I mean?

I got that thing up in Jersey tonight but I can swing by earlier. You want I should make it look like an accident? After all, they don't call me Calamity for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Dude, uh, word of advice: shut the fuck up. We were all new here once, and some people catch on quicker than others. You're evidently one of the others. If you got blasted, learn something from it. That's the main value of this exercise for those of us seeking to be published. We might get our feelings hurt, but she is going to make an insightful comment that you can use if you suck up your pride long enough to understand it. Silence is your friend when you're under the influence of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

One piece of advice I always give new writers is: don't post on a blog like this when you've never heard of a hook before. And, FYI: anyone who says they give advice to new writers IS a new writer.

Putz.

cm allison said...

I wrote mine as a query, but figured if I don't "hook" the agent with my query, then a form rejection is as far as I will get. If my "query" "hooks", great, if not, try again. Several times the Magnificent MS said: "you have 250 word to hook me", and referred to first pages, queries, jacket blurbs. JUST hook her, the rest will come later!
(I'm WAY down, that dinner reservation with the folks made sure I didn't send too early! lol, nearly to 600!)

Chumplet said...

Some hooks can be 'query-like' if they work. Some can be excerpts. But only if they WORK. Some did, some didn't.

It's up to the readers to read Miss Snark's Crapometer FAQ thoroughly, and use the information to their best advantage.

It also helps to realize that Miss Snark is going through 700 submissions in a weekend, for free.

It also helps to be a regular visitor. It makes it easier to interpret what Miss Snark likes and doesn't like.

If you got it wrong, too bad. Suck it up. I did. A lot.

Anonymous said...

One of piece of advice I like to give is SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH if nothing but crap is flying out of it.

What an idiot. Ms. Snark does this for FREE and someone writes and rambling bitch-letter? Thank God you're a newebie because there's no other excuse for such stupidity.

puzzlehouse said...

Amidst all the booing and hissing, I'd like to say that even though I've been reading She Who Must Be Obeyed's blog for a long, long time, I was confused too. I'm betting that my two tries will warrant a "WTF?" and/or "this isn't isn't a hook, it's a recitation of plot."

But I'll have learned something when it's all over.

(And dog damn but word verification is a bitch when you're dyslexic...!)

Writerious said...

I don't know what the original poster did, but since "hook" is still kind of an abstract idea for me, I looked up all the instructions and examples that I could find on the HHCM blog and read them over and over until I had an inkling of what I was supposed to send in. I took it upon myself to understand the posted rules and do my best to follow them. I guess I'm just funny that way.

It's a strange fact of human nature that things we get for free we tend to complain about the most. I saw this when I was a site leader for a summer recreational program. Even though parents weren't paying a dime for what amounted to three hours of free babysitting, many felt free to criticize our program for not doing more: how we really ought to feed them snacks, do more elaborate crafts, all that rot. Of course I'd smile and try to explain that we're doing the best we can on a limited budget, but behind the pasted smile I was thinking, "Honey, you're getting this for free, and you're complaining? Look, either bring your kid, or don't. And if cheapskates like you would quit bitching about paying your taxes, maybe the city could run this program with a real budget instead of trying to fund it with little dribbles of grant money."

But then people who would complain about an agent graciously donating her time for this monster-sized critique-a-thon probably don't understand the concept of service to one's fellow beings.

Bernita said...

Other people have said it better...
But. You. Dorp.

Anonymous said...

Don't be an ass - and really don't be an ass here, dipshit. How would you like to sit in a chair staring into a monitor reading 700 hooks, 99% of which will be really bad ones? Poor Yapp is probably standing by the door with his legs crossed begging to go out.

From reading here today, I already know I'm going to get hit with the clue gun (I fucked up, too), but it's not her fault!I've learned something from a real lady willing to give up her Christmas vacation for us. Show a little gratitude. You don't think she's getting paid for this do you? It comes from her heart and is a gift to us. I think every single one of us should mail at least five dollars to Kristin Nelson to forward to Miss Snark as a show of our appreciation. Would you mind if we did that, Kristin?

Anonymous said...

Kat, to be honest, I thought those answers in the FAQs were awfully ambiguous and didn't really address the questions. I knew what she meant by "hook," but I can see where a newbie to the business could get confused.

Anonymous said...

I got roasted, and not just my hook: my premise. I still say 'thanks', because this is the input of a professional in publishing, and it's tough to get personal feedback these days (what with all the losers like the one who started this brouhaha making agents hire bodyguards).

If I got hate mail just for doing my job, I'd quit. And if I got hate mail for running a FREE critiquing contest, I'd cancel it.

But Miss Snark probably won't do either one, because she loves books and wants to see good ones pop up in her slush pile every day of her life.

Anonymous said...

My problem is not with Miss Snark who has given a zillion hours of her time freely. It's with the bitter/jealous/vinegar laced others who had to tear down my winner. All that counts now boys & girls is my smile and those pages I'm sending in!

leatherdykeuk said...

A puling writer
who didn't read the FAQ
has themself to blame.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark has a loyal following and I predict the tidal wave will get higher.

You just don't mess with the Snark.

You probably feel like a damn fool now. Don't you? Well if you don't you should.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between being confused and being an ass. I can relate to being confused. It must be hard on people who think they know everything to experience confusion and not be able to rise above it. Oh, well. Suck it up.

Inez said...

OMG!!!

Anonymous said...

My two cents- the audience for your hook was one person only, MS. Your 250 words were NOT to be a synopsis, first page or a query. It was 250 words that would hook HER. (ie: Happy Hook-Her Crapometer)

Almost everything posted thus far has been a first page or a synopsis...

randomsome1 said...

So if they can't read, what makes them think they can write?

I don't envy you your job, Miss Snark, but I shall still add to the fund for your shiny new Christmas Cluegun.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new to add--poster is obviously an idiot on so many levels. As someone else said, if you don't take responsibility for your own performance (or lack of) you not only will never be published, but you will be a miserable whiner your whole life.

Miss Snark, I must add to the chorus singing your praises. To think that you would devote this much of your time to helping aspiring writers and nitwits is truly beyond words. I didn't submit anything, but I am hooked by the whole endeavor and can't stop reading and I am learning so much. A huge, huge Thank you!!!!

Anonymous said...

If you don't understand it, don't enter.
It's that simple.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

WTF?

Steve Prosapio said...

Well, let's make it official. It's 699 to 1. Does Clueless want a recount?

magdor said...

There was ample time to review many of the early hooks to see exactly what Miss Snark wanted before sending yours off. I apologize if this has already been said in the comments above, but I did want to put my two cents in and get back to learning from all the hooks posted thus far.

somthin'notwrite said...

I am a new blog reader -- less than a week-- and do not know the lines on the playground, yet.

However, I am not the person to whom these comments refer.

I have already (probably) been put on the 'do not read these comments' list.

I am sometimes too enthusiastic with 'helping out', and I apologize.

I realize I am not a professional, but there again, I truly didn't realize I'd crossed 'the line'.

Sigh.

I'm sorry.

Since this post will never be seen. I guess I'm licking my own wounds.

Sigh. sigh.

Sorry, again.

I'll go away now.

Anonymous said...

At the very least, learn the difference between then and than (see paragraph 3). Yikes.