Monday, December 22, 2014

A writes: Elementary vs Sherlock.

I am a huge, huge fan of the BBC's Sherlock and while I wasn't too keen on Elementary at the start, it actually surprised me. That said, I feel a little bad comparing these two. While both revolve around the same concept, the way that they’re approached makes them worlds apart. To start off, Sherlock.
Wow. Trying to describe Sherlock is pretty much impossible for me; it has everything. It is damn clever, it gives me sooooo many feels (Particularly with Sherlock and John’s relationship), it keeps me on the edge of my seat and is pretty much impossible to predict. The only bad thing about it is how long they leave it between series but given that Benedict Cumberbatch is in an awful lot now days (Which is amazing, because he is amazing!) that’s not really surprising. And honestly, I think it’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular; it comes along every few years, hits you with a couple of episodes that are so jammed-packed and leave you wanting more. It’s the type of thing I can see going on for years and years without becoming stale like most good TV shows do.
Elementary is  completely different. It’s the light, feel good, mainstream TV version of Sherlock. The reason I’m a bit hesitant about doing a comparison is because there is none. Sherlock in Elementary is smart, clever and observant, yes, but the important distinction is that I believe 100% that he could exist. There’s no… magic. No real ‘wow’ factor. There’s just a man, who’s really good at what he does, but is flawed. His flaws, however, are a part that I grew to like an awful lot; it gives dimension to an otherwise run-of-the-mill cop show. I think a big part of my lack-lustre response to it initially was their decision to make Watson a female. The Sherlock-Watson relationship is fantastic (The Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law movies highlight it, too) and a female Watson completely rips that relationship apart. Particularly seeing as its entire purpose is sex appeal. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against good-looking actors/actresses, but when the only purpose of a character is sex appeal it annoys me. In my opinion, my reservations unfortunately proved to hold true; Watson does not work as a girl. All of their adventures, all of their banter, is now just prelude to a hook up which seems inevitable. Which to me just seems like a huge letdown for a great character and what should have been a great relationship. Negatives aside, though, it does have some good moments.
BBC Sherlock, particularly season 3, does begin to add more depth to Sherlock’s pitfalls but Elementary really paints the picture of broken genius which does draw me. After watching the first season of Elementary, it does hold its own but only when you look at it on its own – die-hard Sherlock fans might not want to worry about it at all. A comparison leaves it extremely lacking and if I had to pick my favourite of the two there’s no doubt whatsoever which one I would pick. But if I was comparing Elementary to some of the other mainstream cop shows, it’s a lot more likely to make the list.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A writes: the query letter

A while ago on my personal blog, I did a post on writing query letters and I thought I would also share it here. I'm in no way an expert on query letters; I have, in fact, written one. But what I also did is a lot of research, so I'm hoping to save you a bit of time by sharing the four main websites that I found particularly invaluable. I'm also planning on posting our query letter in the next week or so to show how we wrote ours. 

Anyway, to start off my research, I spent a good deal of time in the archives of Query Shark, and Miss Snark (who also helped write the synopsis!). These two websites have some great ‘what not to do’ feedback as well as what works in a query letter. But the reason I love these two websites is because once I learned what not to do I was able to figure out what I wanted my query to look like. Writing the first draft of the query was relatively easy after reading through many, many pages of awful queries. 

In addition, JM Tohline has some great tips from agents about what they look for in a query letter on his website. And last but not least, the agent query website also talks about formatting etc your query once you’ve written it.
If any of you have any websites about query letters that you've found helpful, let me know in the comments! As I mentioned earlier, I am by no means an expert on this and I'm always looking out for more hints or tips.
Speaking of, the best tip I can give you is to read the requirements carefully; some publishers we’ve looked into requested marketing info such as target readership etc. In the end, however, no matter how much research you do you just have to sit down and write the thing. And then spend an awful lot of time editing, proofreading and making sure that there are no errors. Because at the end of the day, the query is your first meeting with a potential agent or publisher and you'd better make sure the impression is a good one.