Archive for books

How to Submit a Manuscript. It’s Simple. I Promise.

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Sara Lilly

My office is dead. 

I haven’t read anything in days so I thought I’d write for a while. I’ve learned a lot of things from interning at this lit agency, notably: 1) I don’t want to work in publishing and 2) So many “writers” have no idea what they’re doing.

Tell me if this is common sense or not. When you submit your story to an agency, never, I mean NEVER put a dedication, a quote, pictures, or any sort of thing like that in the manuscript. You come off as being an egotistical schmuck. Really.

What’s more is, you are trying to be “hired” by an agent so you better as hell, make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly. I don’t care if you’re a genius; if you show up to a job interview in pajamas and a stained sweatshirt with dirt on your face, you’re not getting the job. If you submit a manuscript ridden with typos, grammar errors and a fucking quote in the beginning–you’re not getting the job!

For writers, this is how you format a manuscript. It’s extremely simple and can be found out simply from googling “How to format a manuscript.” It’s what I googled when I tried submitting. Everyone has their own take on it but this is the basic format:

1) Cover page. In the center of the front page, put the title, your name, and how many words it is. By God, do not put 55,628–round up. 55, 628=56,000.
2) Font. Anything legible works, though the standard is either Times New Roman or Courier New, size 12, double-spaced. Try to go for 250 words per page because that’s the usual in a typical book.
3) Heading. On each page, put your last name and the title of the work.
4) For every new chapter, start a new page.

That’s it. Isn’t that simple? How come people can’t do that? Two other things that irritate the SHIZ out of me (yes, I said shiz) when reading manuscripts:
1) Wrong pop culture references. I was reading something that was trying to allude to the Karate Kid. They misquoted the most famous line as “Wash on, wash off.” It was a smack forehead moment. “WAX on WAX off.”
2) Wrong use of quotation marks. I hope to teach creative writing one day at a college level, and I will make it clear in the beginning of class that if anyone misuses quotation marks, I will take off five points immediately. I’ve seen all of this:
“Hi.” Said Joe Schmoe.
“Hi” said Joe Schmoe.
“Hi said Joe Schmoe.”
“WHAT” cried Joe Schmoe!
“WHAT?” Cried Joe Schmoe.

Note to people who do the above: Read a book.  

I’m mean, aren’t I? Maybe. In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo walked the same street that I do every Thursday and Friday. Except he walked there last Tuesday. Oh snap.


The Heights

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2010 by Sara Lilly

Peter Hedges’ comment inspired me to read his new book. I downloaded the e-book version to my mom’s Nook and then went to Borders and bought my own hardcopy.  I hate e-books. After a class last semester known among its students as “English Boot Camp” I am incapable of reading without a pencil or highlighter. I can’t pencil or highlight an e-book so paper is the way to go for me. My mom and I run a very informal book club between the two of us. We collectively enjoy the work of Russo, Nabokov and Khaled Hosseini. She has a love affair with the writing of Ian McEwan–I have yet to even read Atonement. I’ve discovered that she hates the British humor that I enjoy (Evelyn Waugh) and I don’t have much of an interest in detective agencies in Botswana. We’re a good match the two of us though.

Anyway, to get back to my original point. I drift a lot from topic to topic because my brain thinks faster than my mouth lets me speak or fingers let me type. Okay. Really, this time, I’ll start writing about what I set out to write. The Heights by Peter Hedges. I’ve only gotten to page 40 or so between last night and fifteen minutes ago when I sat at the counter at the Park Avenue Borders with my cold veggie burger, office-snatched Gatorade and 100-calorie pack of Cheez-Its. So far I’m surprised/impressed by a couple of things:

1) He’s like a chameleon with narrative voices. Aside from random moments here and there, there’s not  a breath of Gilbert Grape in the first person consciousness of either Kate or Tim.

2) It has a light Revolutionary Road aura. I loveeeee Revolutionary Road and The Heights is already far more comedic than Road was, (for those who have not read the book nor seen the movie, it’s a depressing tale of the pitfalls of suburbia) but something remains in it that constantly reminds me of the absolutely amazing Richard Yates novel.

3) The author has something about big age differences and sexual tension. Gilbert Grape had three notable hookups: one involved the title character who was 24 with a 40-something woman. Another was the title character with a 15-year-old and the last was a 16-year-old with a 27 (or 29?) year old. They’re all a little weird but it’s interesting–it’s like a moral dilemma. It’s a, “This is wrong but I can’t stop reading,” kind of thing. *edit: Why does this strike me as weird–I wrote an entry about me and a 28-year-old.

That’s all for now. Like I said, it’s page 40. I enjoy it so far though. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Oh, so in tradition of my last post “I Think I’ll Feign Fainting,” I started a short story called “How Max Mitz Feigned Fainting and Brought Down an Entire Corporation.” It’s the most ridiculous, absurd thing I’ve ever written. Maybe it’ll turn out well or maybe it’ll just be ridiculous and absurd. Who the fuck knows?