Saturday, June 04, 2022

Answers to questions from last week

On Tuesday I wrote about getting salutations right in your query.


EM Goldsmith

Where does "Snookums" or "Your Toothy Majesty" fall in this list? Asking for a friend?


I LOVE both of course.




I had an editor advise that I address agent queries as "Dear Full Name" so as not to be too familiar (eg Dear First Name) or presumptuous about gender (Dear Ms./Mr.). What are your feelings on this approach?


Given that five year old children at church call me Janet (my sainted mother is rolling in her grave, let me assure you) "too familiar" is something of a lost cause.


Presumptuous about gender is a whole 'nother kettle of sushi.

Unless you know if an agent uses Ms. or Mr. Dear Felix Buttonweezer is an excellent, safe choice.




Dear Occupant.


Hank, you can call me occupant any time you like. Of course it means I'm moving in to your guest cottage there in France.




Miles O'Neal


How do you feel about "Ms"?


I'm totally fine with Ms.

I'm old enough to remember the brouhaha over using Ms instead of Miss or Mrs.


The stodgy, style guide worshipping NYTimes refused to use Ms.

Then came the 1984 Presidential campaign with Geraldine Ferraro on the ticket.


The NYT asked what she would like to be called.
Ms Ferraro, please.


Well, no, we don't do that. Miss or Mrs?


Well, of course Geraldine Ferraro was married to a man who was not her father and who had a different surname. So she was married, thus not Miss Ferraro, but Mrs. Zaccaro.  However, Mrs. Zaccaro was not the name on all those festive campaign signs, or on the ballot.


And Geraldine Ferraro was more than a little annoyed at these old stodgy dudes who couldn't seem to move with the times. Or move the Times.


So she said (and god I would have loved to have seen the look on her face!) sure, whatevs, call me Mrs. Ferrarro.


And they did.

For the entire f/ing campaign.


I was laughing at the Times for MONTHS.  I was not alone.

But as the Nixon White House discovered, don't fuck with the Times. They'll double down just to make a point.



It would take almost two more years for the Times to get with the times.


Eric Siletzky

 Reminds me a lot of dating rich girls. We're all people here. We shouldn't be encouraging obsequiousness unless we want monarchies again.


Who says we don't?

I should be Queen of the Known Universe.



On Thursday I wrote about "double-writing"


Does it apply to dialogue?


Not so much. Dialogue needs to sound right. Sometimes people talk funny (with their mouths)



John Davis Frain

Okay, legit question. You say:


"And sometimes, yes, you need the extra word.


She crouched down to give Felix CPR."


So, I assume the extra word here is "down" and I don't understand why you need it. Where else would you crouch? Seems to me it's like writing "He stood up" when you can just say "He stood."



Sometimes you need the extra word for rhythm. Writing is not an exact science. I think she crouched down sounds better.




And I kinda love that JDF feels the need to say his is a legit question.

How well he knows his audience here.


(and if you're not following @Frainstorm on Twitter for his #VSS posts, you are really missing out.)


KariV said...

I second Janet's recommendation. JDF #VSS365 prompts on Twitter are peak entertainment.

Thanks for a week of great posts, Janet!

John Davis Frain said...

You guys kill me!

Oh wait, sorry, my wife already beat you to the punch. A knockout punch, at that.

Julie Weathers said...

I agree with Dr. Frain about the crouching. Otherwise, I would picture a person crouching as if they were about to pounce.

And, sometimes, standing Up just adds more (besides words). "She stood up fully to her five foot nothing and declared martially, "I am about to eat your face off with or without catsup if you don't let me through this line." (And I wonder why I am over on word count.)

Regarding the salutations, I refer to Janet as "Miss Janet" and have no idea what her marital status is. It's just something of a southern affection of respect and adoration, like Driving Miss Daisy though I'm probably older than she is. I'm older than dirt.

I have another friend from Texas I play an MMORPG with at times and when I log on it's an excited, "Miss Gen!" (My character's name is Gentyl though she's a serial killing war monster.) "Miss Artemis!"

"Given that five year old children at church call me Janet (my sainted mother is rolling in her grave, let me assure you) "too familiar" is something of a lost cause."

I laughed at this. My son's friends all called me Mrs. Weathers until I gave them permission to call me Julie. I love manners in the south. At my last Surrey conference someone from up north ranted and raved about how much he detested it when his company sent him down south. "I despise those women in those offices who are always so polite with the 'yes, sirs and no, sirs' and that phony polite bs."

I was truly astounded. "You don't like people being polite?"

"No, you know they don't like you, but they're nice to you anyway."

I shrugged. "It's called manners, Ray. I'm sure you went out of your way to be an ass to them, just to see if you could make them say something snarky back and all you got was a 'Bless you heart', right?"


"Well, that's the thing about being a good southerner. You have to learn how to tell a person to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip."

Anyway, when addressing agents, I check their websites to see how they want to be addressed. They will usually tell you.

Mister Furkles said...

Janet, have you not considered 'Queen of the Unknown Universe'? It is much larger than the known universe and nobody there can contest your title.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I remember the whole Ms or Miss debate. Am I actually that old? I don't feel a day over twenty-five - well, in a George Strait sort of way. What a great treat for a Sunday

Barbara Etlin said...

About Ms.: The Canadian federal government still hasn't gotten with the times. Almost every year, I receive a missive from it giving me an incorrect title. Same situation as Geraldine F. I'm married but did not legally change my surname mostly because I had publishing credits using it. I wrote and called them to correct it. I've given up and let them address me as Mrs. E., although that was my mother. When I try to get them to change it, they assume I'm divorced or widowed or single and that has tax consequences.

Kate Larkindale said...

My partner and I aren't married and we occasionally get mail for him calling him Mr. Larkindale. I get really confused about why my dad's mail is coming to our house.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I'm just catching up. What a terrific week of posts.