Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Monday, October 03, 2011

please NO

"fictional manuscript"
"fictional novelist"
"fictional query"

These phrases make me reach for the bourbon bottle at 10am.
If you want to be a writer, you really have to know what "fictional" means.

Until you do, your agent will be.


Ali Trotta said...

The last line nearly made me spit out my coffee.

Fictional is the new inconceivable, and the world is full of Vizzinis.

Columbia 60 said...

Perhaps you could respond by saying, "I'm sorry, I'm a real agent, so I won't be able to work with you. You appear to have meant to query someone fictional."

S.J.P. said...

In defense of the last line, maybe that person's query doesn't actually exist. LOL

Colin Smith said...

I love it! A fictional novel about a fictional novelist writing fictional queries. Based on a true story? :)

BTW, this is a fictional comment.

Gabriela Pereira said...

Ha! When I read that last line, I seriously almost fell out of my chair. Love this!

Reagan Philips said...

*after laugh sigh*

I love that you have a bourbon bottle at the office, fictional or otherwise.

Sarah Davis Brandon said...

A hilarious error, often mentioned by agents. I can see how it would be annoying. I can also see how it's a very human error.

Unknown said...

In defense of a new writer, the world of agents...editor...submission processes...are filled with land mines. "Don't submit a query more than two pages. Don't hand someone a manuscript unless they ask. Don't send out blanket form letters, do your research. Don't look them in the eye, but put your hand out tentatively for them to smell before approaching every so carefully and if you have soft music to sooth the beast all the better" Of course I'm joking about the last part, my point being keep the information coming about what we should or should not do. I'm all for taking the advise and doing what will work best for an agent/editor, etc. But sometimes we just don't know until someone tells us.

TC Avey said...

Spewing coffee!

Josin L. McQuein said...

The only cure for this is the Fictional Poem (It's so bad, it can't possibly be real.)

Dear Schnookums:

Last night I dreamed about a book. It came with a pithy, thrilling hook.

Penned by a fictional novelist,
who insisted on saying he didn't exist.

When he told me about his fictional novel, I gnashed my teeth 'til he started to grvoel.

I shredded the pages and ripped and ripped destroying his fictional manuscript.

His prose and his syntax, his dialogue's diction, these things didn't do well when made into fiction.

Still, the story was great, so rather than tarry
I decided to pass on his fictional query.

Joanna said...

Cheers, Janet!

Stephsco said...

Darn, I wanted to query my non-fiction fantasy to you.

I kid, I kid!

Amy said...

So, in other words, "It was all a dream..."

Ali Trotta said...


I think in this instance, it's not a matter of being a new writer and not knowing any better. It's a matter of using the correct terminology and being responsible enough to figure out what that is. That doesn't require someone being told something is wrong. It requires a dictionary or Google. There is a wealth of information out there, if someone puts in the time to look for it. To me, the examples Janet listed are akin with writing "Dear Agent," instead of the agent's name. Not having been told that's wrong isn't a legitimate excuse, because that's one of the things all agents seem to dislike. And, as I said before, a Google search will turn that information up.

Josin, I love that. Hilarious and awesome. Thank you for writing that and making me laugh!

Colin Smith said...

To echo Ali's comment, if you're serious about getting an agent, it doesn't take long to find info on how to write a query letter. In fact, they need go no further than QueryShark to get the basics.

Daisy said...

I have one of those fictional manuscripts myself. And it's going to stay that way unless I can manage to carve out the time to drag it into reality.

Hazel Keats said...

Soak it in newbies. The Shark doesn't blow smoke.

Bill Cameron said...

But that Elijah Craig Bourbon is so good. Any excuse is a good excuse, no matter the time of day.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Ahh, the difference between adjectives and compound nouns! I love the idea of a fictional query, though. Maybe that's what we should call all the practice ones that are submitted to Query Shark, etc. (although many of those are intended to be the authors' real-life queries eventually).

@Unknown: While I agree that it can be confusing to figure out what an agent wants, this is one of those basic things that multiple agents put on their "DON'T DO!" lists and should come up with a little basic research. They have been out there, telling us.

Loretta Ross said...

Actually, I kind of have to disagree with people who think it's the sort of basic thing a writer should get from Googling agents' sites. It's not.

It's basic grammar and vocabulary skills, and something you really need to be up on before you ever reach the point where you're sending out query letters. "Fiction" and "fictional" simply do not mean the same thing. Like a carpenter, or a stone mason, or any other craftsman, you've got to know your tools and materials before you can hope to build anything lasting.

(Loved the poem and Ali's Princess Bride reference, btw!)

Ali Trotta said...


Thinking about it, now, I think it might be both. I've noticed that a lot of agents mention phrases not to use (like this entry). But you're right when you say it's a word, issue, too. You need to know what you're saying, when you say it. Excellent point.

Also, glad that you liked the reference! I'll be over here, stormin' the castle...*grin*

Steve Stubbs said...

How do you feel about the old saying that if God were a novelist, the universe would be fictional?