This months tempest in a tea-cup is based on the thin skin of people who might
be the topic of discussion. That's right ladies, gentlemen, writers and readers of all ages, we're talking Queryfail
. A great summary of the event is posted by
Jim MacDonald over at Making Light, and while there's not much to be said about the point of the event that isn't summed up by Colleen Lindsay's early posts on it
Colleen_Lindsay: Remember, if you’re participating in #Queryfail Day to a.) use the #queryfail tag, and
b.) NO PERSONAL IDENTIFIERS from queries. #queryfail
Colleen_Lindsay: It’s about educating, not about being mean! =) #queryfail
This was repeated more than once. And yet, several people got upset about it. Why, who knows. From the admittedly light skimming I did, it looked the usual offal about "My original idea might be stolen
!!!!EventyANGST!!!111!!" and the "How dare you mention that I'm not perfect!
News flash: There are no
original stories left, haven't been seen before the written word. There are original executions
, but anyone who states that such an execution could be compromised not by a multi-page examination of the text of a book, but by a one hundred forty character (or less) riff on the query is arguing from a well emoted out position.
Were their direct quotes used? Of course there were, they make the best examples, and of course the only people who might be able to identify the writer of any particular query by a one sentence quote are: 1) The writer, 2) other professionals that have seen the query and 3) anyone the writer may have bounced their query off before dispatching it to the Stygian depths of an agent/editors inbox. So how is this public humiliation? It isn't. The agents and editors who might have or might in the future see it will probably reject it or have for the same reason(s). Your friends or family members are either not using a large enough cluebat, or you're just not asking the right questions to get the answers and or help you need.
What Queryfail did was take not just the people who are actively seeking improvement and hold them up as an example, but take some things from a bit further down the food chain. Most of the people who take part in activities like Ms Snark once ran, are close to being at the right level, and that makes it harder (at least for me) to see the difference between right and almost right. I've learned more about good writing from reading bad, bad writing than from reading the cream of the crop. Not because there isn't stuff to learn in the great writing but because the bad stuff is usually disjointed enough to stick out where as good writing is nearly invisible.
I may or may not do something similar to queryfail in the future, but if i do it is
educationally intended and if you think I'm being mean, really ask my (real) friends they can set you straight.