I've been meaning to post about the pleasures of reading Miss Snark, the literary agent, though her blog is less about the fine points of language than the gross points -- like how to query an agent without sounding like a nitwit.
Nitwittery is in plentiful supply, though, so Miss Snark (with the aid of her poodle, Killer Yapp, and a pail of gin) has been dispensing a stream of straight talk (and sometimes a shot from the cluegun) to would-be novelists. When she turned on the crapometer, offering free advice on sample queries, those who braved it got responses like this:
You're absolutely awash in more words than you need. Pare! Pare! Take that dagger and cut off about half of what you have here. Get the action moving. Quit telling us how all fired moody and Heathcliffian all these "he's" are. Kill someone! Now!
Miss Snark, alas, has abruptly hung up her stilettos, effective yesterday, saying that she has answered all the questions she has answers for. But the website -- two years' worth of tough love, Clooney swoons, and haiku in honor of Thomas Pynchon's 70th birthday -- lives on.
(P.S.: Miss Snark's "book" cover is only a joke. For now.)
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.