Monday, January 01, 2007

The "Cringe-0-meter" for Writers

Miss Snark (www.misssnark.blogspot.com) just completed a marathon "Crapometer" where writers submitted their hooks for her scathing, insightful critique. I dare you to find a writing class at any major US university that could teach you as much as that Crapometer.

I've launched the "Cringe-o-meter" for writers to share their newbie stories. What have you done in the publishing process that now makes you cringe?

I queried a superstar agent over a year ago when I barely knew what a query was. It was the query equivalent of sending Spielberg the script from your third grade play and blithely assuming he will snap it up and start casting Julia Roberts and Robert DeNiro. I'm sure he hit the "reject" button after the first sentence. It was a true query suckerama. No hook, way too much plot, dry, no sense of my voice. In short. It makes me cringe to read it now.

So tell us your own stories of how you embarrassed the hell out of yourself, and how you learned the ropes. Feel free to use "anonymous."

8 comments:

Trish Ryan said...

Gosh, everything I did back in the day was cringe-worthy....there's not enough space on Blogger to chronicle it all!

Here's to a wise and successful 2007 :)

Stephen Parrish said...

Hey Kim: I wrote lots of stooopid queries because I basically tried everything until I discovered what worked. I think my stooopidest query was one in which I anticipated the agent's objections in advance and refuted each one in turn. Perhaps not coincidentally, the rejection letter that resulted was the most disheartening of all that I received.

It's worth noting that two of my offers came from agents that had previously turned me down, so regrouping, rewriting, and resubmitting really does pay off.

ORION said...

My first queries I "helped" the agent with how my book could be marketed. Don't blame me. I read Nicholas Sparks query letter on his website and modeled mine after his.
I read those queries now and I cringe!
I did save a really nice handwritten rejection from Dan Lazar of Writers house that said - (and I have it memorized and framed!) - "Your writing is lovely...just lovely!"
I met him two years later after signing with Dorian Karchmar of William Morris. It was quite fun to say thanks for that hand written note as it really uplifted my spirits at that point in my career.

Anonymous said...

Kim Says:

I've overused autism, oversold, overplotted, mished, mashed and mushed in an eager attempt to "do it all" in one page. Result? Rejections. I learned at the Backspace conference that every agent wants something a bit different. One said he liked quirky queries, another, straight forward. One reads the bio first, one looks at the hook.

On to 2007, year of the agent!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,
The tired adage about learning from one's mistakes seems to apply most of all to writers. I have learned tons from this crapometer, including some aspects of agenting that never occured to me before. I've resolved as a result to think very carefully before choosing WHO to send queries to. And then, leaving aside the obvious factors, praying for a large dose of luck. Which is what I wish everyone else in 2007!
Mad

Jess Riley said...

Oh, the cringe-worthy query memories. I once included an awful anecdote about my first ever work of fiction, entitled "Winkitty goes to the Eye Doctor," in a query. I'm sure the agent was like, "WHO CARES?!"

Happy new year!!

Kim Stagliano said...

Jess, did Winkitty need a pair of cat eye glasses? LOL! That's a lulu.

K

The Wandering Author said...

When I was in seventh grade, I wrote a truly awful, melodramatic SF story called Star Chill which boasted no dialogue, too much melodrama, one character, and about 80% adjectives. I actually submitted the thing to Analog! I got back a nice, printed rejection slip. I'm not sure why the editor didn't just vomit in the envelope, then mail it on to me...