Thursday, July 12, 2007

Miss Snark's Greatest Hits (vol 16)

Another dense set of snarkive dives.

Still more on synopses. Don't do them first person. And, brevity vs. flavor.

Just stick the thing in an envelope and let it go. On manuscript submission and special handling--hint, bad idea. Boxes edition. Plus, registered mail.

On why an agent may not find your MFA to be a credit worth mentioning in the query. With further notes from an article Miss Snark linked. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I don't possess an MFA myself, but I spend a great deal of time with academics (I'm married to one) and I think graduate school has a lot to be said for it on its own merits, though perhaps not in writing. It's certainly been my impression from my own discussions with editors, writers, and agents that Miss Snark is expressing the opinion of an awful lot of publishing professionals here, and the case made in the article is one that should be read by anyone interested in writing great books.

Bonus content, a link from Miss Snark to an article on how to avoid scam agencies in your search (written be the excellent Victoria Strauss).


Kelly Swails said...

Interesting piece on MFA programs. I found this funny:
Never begin a story with a character waking up in bed. Never write a scene where a character looks at himself in a mirror. Never use the word "stuff."

Uh, yeah. I've done all three in Stormy Weather, and I'm not going to change one word of those scenes. You know, just for spite.

Anonymous said...

Never begin a story with a character waking up in bed.

:snort: That's one of our biggest pet peeves at Apex Digest - the story starting with someone waking up in a dream. I'd bet a good half of our submissions start out this way. >.<

Never use the word "stuff"? That's a new one. And, like you Kelly, I have several scenes in both Midnight and Heir where the main character looks at herself in a mirror - these are important moments that couldn't be handled any other way. Metaphors, symbolism, soul-searching, and all that. In the story I'm reading at the moment for review (The Very Bloody Marys), the main character takes great pride in being able to see himself in mirrors - he's a vampire. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ooops. That was me. I didn't even think to check which account I was signed in under. Sorry about that! (:meanders off mumbling about the hazards of letting others check their gmail on your computer:)

Kelly Swails said...

Yeah, okay, I'll admit that "Waking up from a dream" is probably a bad way to start a story, just as "...and then I found myself in bed, it must have all been a dream" is a baaaad way to end a story. They're both devices employed by the rookie or unimaginative author.

In my book, the main character is woken up by his freshly-beaten dad and told they have to pack up and leave town right now, which I think is a nice way to start. (Obviously, since I did it.) You've got the whole "why the heck are we leaving" business excacerbated by the "I just woke up" disorientation.

I completely agree with you about the mirror business: I don't think it's bad at all, and in a vampire setting, it's downright necessary.

Anonymous said...

Now see, your kind of waking up, I can deal with. ;)

Kelly McCullough said...

That's a nice opening, X. Strong.