"Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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What is the term for when you use two commas, such as is being done in this post, to add an extra bit of information mid-sentence?

I'm sure it has a term but I can't remember it!
 

Andrew Shaw

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Hi all

This isn't a question for Mr Jarrold specifically, but more a question about him...

I'm a newbie to these boards. I've just finished my first maniscript and I'm doing the whole looking around for an agent thing, and obviously I'm sending something to Mr Jarrold.
Even though I'm emailing my sample to him, instead of sending it hard copy, does he still require it to be in the Courier12/Times New Roman12, double-spaced, inch-wide margins format? I'd think the answer is yes, but I just want to make sure.

Thanks in advance for any answers.

Andy.
 

HareBrain

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I don't know for sure, but it's surely safest to assume he does. There's no downside apart from the few minutes spent re-formatting.

Welcome to Chrons, by the way!
 

Andrew Shaw

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Thanks HareBrain :)

I'm at that stage where I'm looking at my master copy, which purely for my own guidance is set to look exactly as I'd want the printed paperback page to look, and I'm sitting here thinking "I have to reformat this now, and then I have to send it off. Oh God!"
Hesitating's not going to do me any good though...
 

Coragem

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3. Never mix tenses. If it is past tense, do not use sentences such as, "His hand felt as though he had plunged it in a fire now."
Couple of other lads were claiming their prizes, one was screaming with blood running down his face, but, you know, it's a battle, ain't it. If everyone came out smiling there'd be no point. (Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes)

Joe Abercrombie mixes tenses all the time … and to great effect given that his 3rd person narrative is almost the POV character's speech (often slipping fully into speech).

As the experts are saying, it's no doubt valuable to understand guidelines. Maybe take some time thinking about them. Still, as also hinted at by the experts, what (I think) counts most is devoting masses of time to reading work by good authors. That way we gain a 6th sense for what works.

Coragem.
 

tiny_skeeveuk

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Hi.

I'm not sure if this thread is used anymore (and I am new to forums so go easy on me!). Here's my question :

What if you love to write but are incredibly shy in letting others read your work. So because of this, you work up the courage to finally submit, but despite reading all the 'how to' guides you mess up you submission/ query letter?

I have recently submitted to several agents (including to JJ) but don't feel as though I gave my work a good enough introduction - do agents dismiss the writing sample if they dislike the email/ submission letter?

Thanks

Mel
 

chrispenycate

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No, unfortunately JJ's not been in for a year and a half, so it tends to be mere mortals who follow up questions here. Not that I can think of anything much to do about the nervousness; I suspect only experience will help there (although you needn't consider you are unique in this, or even part of a minority). You might have noticed 'aspiring writers'; there's a fair amount of mutual ego boosting and confidence building going on in there, and if some of the critiques are not entirely painless, console yourself with the fact that a) generally people here are polite about being nasty and b) since we're not potential buyers you are not obliged to take any notice of what we say.

Certainly a good introduction letter gives a good first impression; and it also suggests you're serious about your project, and can tolerate a certain stress. However, these people have been in the business for some time, and are not that easy to confuse; do it better next time (that's good for all stages), get some opinions from some other people (possibly here) so you won't feel (quite) so nervous next time, get confident in your writing.
 

tiny_skeeveuk

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Thank you for coming back to me so speedily (if only you were an agent :p ).

The funny thing is, in every single other area I am a confident person who deals with stress easily. I am definitely not easily frightened... unless you want to read my work. Then I shrivel up. Embarrassing really. So when it comes to selling my work via the submission letter, I really don't do a very good job. It's nice to know that perhaps failing at this doesn't necessarily mean my writing will be overlooked... so thanks for my first confidence booster.

Mel
 

Gary Compton

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It sounds like a confidence issue.

Best way to sort, is put a piece up in critiques when you get to 30 posts. You will get criticism but usually most people get positive comments underpinned with constructive criticism:)

Its the only way. If you find out you are rubbish then... **trumpet fanfare**

The only way is up:)

It took me 6 years to find out where semi-colons go. Others will say I still don't know:eek:
 

tiny_skeeveuk

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What lovely people you all are :eek:)

You're completely right - it is a confidence issue. I know I can write (having already been published several times in journalism inc. a front page story - though, granted, never fiction), but letting somebody read my ideas gives me cold shivers. I've taken the plunge and submitted, so I will let you know if I hear anything back.

I only came to ask advise on whether a bad submission letter can spoil your chances, but thanks to your kind words I will take the advice and submit on here for critique ... for better or for worse (eeek!).

Thanks again for such a warm welcome.

Mel
 

Brian G Turner

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What if you love to write but are incredibly shy in letting others read your work. So because of this, you work up the courage to finally submit, but despite reading all the 'how to' guides you mess up you submission/ query letter?
I sincerely hope you really are a very good writer, because with absolute no third party input, how will you know where you are going wrong?

The submission query will probably not see your MS rejected - the MS sells itself. The introduction should be relatively basic.

I will take the advice and submit on here for critique ... for better or for worse (eeek!).
Definitely a good idea. :)
 

Anne Lyle

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Thank you for coming back to me so speedily (if only you were an agent :p ).

The funny thing is, in every single other area I am a confident person who deals with stress easily. I am definitely not easily frightened... unless you want to read my work. Then I shrivel up. Embarrassing really. So when it comes to selling my work via the submission letter, I really don't do a very good job. It's nice to know that perhaps failing at this doesn't necessarily mean my writing will be overlooked... so thanks for my first confidence booster.

Mel
It really depends on whether the agent in question is the old-fashioned sort who asks for sample chapters up front - some are moving to the American model of wanting a query letter first, and that really is your only chance to impress them*.

As for the rest, I'm afraid you're going to have to man up and show your work to people eventually. Most online critique groups are really very nice, and won't rip into your work unless you ask them to. (And yes, there are people like me who do ask. It's the only way to get better!)

I can understand not wanting to show your work to those closest to you - I never showed my writing to my husband until the week I started querying agents, because I knew he would be honest and since he's not a big fan of SFF, I wasn't at all sure he'd like it. OTOH I've been a member of online and offline writing groups for about a decade. Other writers understand how painful it is to have your work criticised, and anyone who oversteps the bounds of constructive criticism is likely to get stomped on by the moderators :)

* There's a whole section on Absolute Write just for critiquing query letters. It really is an art in itself!
 

tiny_skeeveuk

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Hi, one of the reasons I stayed away from online forums for critique is that the people judging your work are generally unpublished writers who might, with the best of intentions, give detrimental advice. Writing is an incredibly subjective thing and if the advice doesn't come from professionals it might even damage your work. And if you're a nervous writer, like myself....

But I'm probably wrong, which is why I'll man up and submit :)

Mel
 

Paradox 99

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Hi Tiny, :)

As someone who had similar issues, but who has now managed to get a couple of books published, I share your pain, but can also offer some encouragement.

As people have already mentioned, and as you seem to be aware, it's a confidence issue. I got over this by starting small and working my way up. Submitting short stories to on-line zines is a great start because it gets you used to the submission process, but most of all, it helps you build the thick skin you're going to need. Even if your work is amazing, many, many, many people you submit to simply won't want it, and you need to learn to handle that rejection. It's a strange way of building 'confidence' - by handling the negative instead of trying to build yourself up - but it worked for me.

Then one day, you'll get one through - they'll love it, they'll publish your fiction, and it'll give you just that little boost of confidence you need. Then keep going - write more - submit to bigger places until, finally, with a few acceptances under your belt, a publisher or agent or scout sits up and takes notice.

But as Brian says, you need to know if your writing really does have what it takes and getting critiques helps a lot; it's how I got going - on here.

I understand that some critiques may not be hitting the mark, but that's why a place like this is so wonderful - there are lots of opinions, and if you're fortunate enough to get several of those opinions on your work, and there's a consensus, you can feel confident that they're likely to be right.

Good luck with it all. If you truly love writing. DON'T give up. :D

p.s. If you think getting the confidence to submit is hard - just wait til you have to start marketing yourself and telling everyone how magnificent your work is - that's when it gets to be really challenging! (It's nice though :))
 

Anne Lyle

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Hi, one of the reasons I stayed away from online forums for critique is that the people judging your work are generally unpublished writers who might, with the best of intentions, give detrimental advice. Writing is an incredibly subjective thing and if the advice doesn't come from professionals it might even damage your work.
That's true to a certain extent, but by participating in more general writing discussions and observing online critiques, you'll soon get a feel for what's good advice and what's BS. And there are a lot of unpublished writers out there who are competent to critique you - the main difference between published and unpublished is that the former have submitted work enough times to find someone to pay money for it. My prose was of a publishable standard for at least a decade before I signed a contract, but I hadn't actually finished a novel at that point, so...

The fact is, you're not likely to find many professionals willing to critique your work. I don't any more, because I've been doing it for years and frankly it gets wearisome after a while, correcting the same mistakes and handing out the same advice. If you want professional critique, you need to take a writing class or pay for professional editing.
 

Peter Graham

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I don't any more, because I've been doing it for years and frankly it gets wearisome after a while, correcting the same mistakes and handing out the same advice. If you want professional critique, you need to take a writing class or pay for professional editing.
Heartily seconded. I'm still a mid-ranking, unpublished no-hoper, but even I have got tired of commenting on flaccid sentence structure, wild grammar, info-dumping, head-hopping and all the rest of it. As Anne says, one ends up doling out the same advice time and time again and I'm far from convinced that many folk read the resource stickies before posting.

Don't forget that a book needs readers. We are all readers, even if we aren't all successful writers.

Regards,

Peter
 
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