Nov 04 2011

Miscellaneous Links

Published by at 8:18 pm under Research and Resources,Writing a Query

  • Stars and Stripes has an article about how Hollywood (mistakenly) depicts military uniforms.  If you’re very into realism and didn’t know that Marines can’t wear hats indoors unless they’re armed, I’d definitely give it a look.  Some of these are just common sense, such as giving soldiers eye protection in the desert.  (Patrolling Iraq without sunglasses is crazy–sunglasses are the fount from which all badassery gushes. Iraq’s also pretty sunny, I hear).
  • Janet Reid has some thoughts on a query that tries covering too many characters.  If at all possible, I would not recommend mentioning another character in your query until you’ve covered something interesting and/or plot-critical for the previous character.  (My rule of thumb is that it’s probably best to mention only the characters that are individually vital to understanding the story–for example, if your main character joins a group of 4+ superheroes, you probably don’t need to introduce all of his teammates individually).  Reid liked this approach to an ensemble cast better.
  • I’m reading Stephen Henning’s A Class Apart today.  Some of it is rough around the edges.  For example, the plot is a bit hard to understand and the female main character is obviously written by a guy (see #1, #2 and #4.1 here). However, if you’re writing a book with superpowered action, I’d recommend checking out the scene where the bomb explodes.  I like his use of sensory detail there.
  • Especially if you’re an experienced job-seeker, I’d recommend checking out this legendary cover letter by an applicant to the OSS (the WWII-era CIA predecessor).  Notice how fluidly he shifts from the needs of the organization to how he is qualified to fit those needs.  He comes across as both modest and confident.  If you’re not an experienced applicant, I’d recommend focusing instead on how you meet the posted job requirements rather than proposing a new course of action in the cover letter.

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Miscellaneous Links”

  1. Mynaon 05 Nov 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Oh seriously? I’d always thought it was because it was illegal for actors to impersonate someone from the military, I didn’t know the Supreme Court looked over that already. xDD I’m late to the program, lol.

    Also, the cover letter thing helps a TON. I’m looking for a job atm although I’m not sure where yet.

  2. Stephen Henningon 06 Nov 2011 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for your feedback Brian. I’m very grateful that you took the time to provide such a detailed critique. I was also pretty surprised by the speed of your response. I can only assume your super powers must include time bending.

    Thanks also for including a link to the Amazon page for the book. I’d be interested to hear what other people think about A Class Apart. You can read the first couple of chapters for free thanks to Amazon’s Look Inside feature.

    If people are interested, there is an accompanying website
    I’m hoping to use this website (and a few others) to build up a web presence for the book series and to drive sales. Fingers crossed!

    Great site and what a fantastic forum for aspiring writers and superhero lovers (as it were) to get together.


  3. Grenacon 06 Nov 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Query letter 199 is excellent, I want to read that story now.

  4. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 11:31 pm

    What I see of the character and plot is very interesting. The snarky line about the tooth fairy and her thinking about how to use a mirror and CDs to cut a way out suggest that she’s got the sort of voice/style I’d like to see more of. Also, I appreciate that the query is very short (159 words about the story), which suggests that the author is confident enough not to spam meaningless details in the hopes that something sticks.

    The letter is very tight and wastes very little space. The only thing I can think of is pretty minor–maybe this could be shortened: “Emily Jacobs, a senior at Maryland, is off for the summer. The last thing she remembers is walking through the woods by her parents’ Long Island home.” Maybe the two sentences could be merged into “The last thing Emily Jacobs remembers is walking through the woods by her parents’ Long Island home.” The only detail removed is that she’s a senior at UM, which strikes me as not particularly important. (If her age is critical, it could be mentioned in the tooth fairy line).

  5. Cuddleson 07 Nov 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you so much for the link on querying an ensemble cast! My novel is in going to be in the 100,000+ category because I have eight viewpoint characters and six major villains, so you could imagine the difficulty I have in pitching it.

  6. B. Macon 07 Nov 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I appreciate challenging sells. (Since I’m trying to write a superhero series where one main character is an unpowered accountant and the other is an alligator whose concerns include were-Canadians and the squirrel menace, I better). If you’d like me to look at the query whenever it’s finished, please email it to me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

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