So, last week, I promised to post my own synopsis. Here’s one for an as-yet-unsold novel. I don’t follow my own formula perfectly (for a series of long, boring reasons that I’m not going to go into here…) Nevertheless, I mostly stick with the formula I shared. Obviously, on this website, you can’t see proper formatting, but assume that I nailed that, okay? In comments, let me know what you think — does the synopsis hold your interest? Does it show you the development of the main characters? Does it give you a view of what the novel is actually about?
* * * BEGIN SYNOPSIS * * *
ASHLEY WARNER is a typical high school senior: a good daughter to her widowed father, a great friend to the brilliant, high-strung KAYLA BARKER, and the somewhat unlikely girlfriend of Lincoln High’s ultra-popular All State pitcher, BRANDON METHENY. Ashley understands [...]
Continue reading I’ll Show You Mine…
A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my basic take on synopses — what they are, what they aren’t, how they should appear, in either physical or pixel form. I promised to devote a post to how, exactly, to write one, including step-by-step directions. Here we go…
Let’s begin with one key fact: Your synopsis isn’t about the plot of your story. (I’ll give you a moment to scoff in disbelief, to roll your eyes, to tell me that I have no idea what I’m talking about.)
Your synopsis is about the character arcs contained within your story. Your goal, in writing your synopsis, is to tell about your main characters (usually two, possibly more if you have a really complicated, 250K or more epic on your hands). You are *only* going to tell plot details when you have no other way to describe what happens to your [...]
Continue reading Synopses: The Nitty and the Gritty
(You know — Synopsis!)
Two weeks ago, I got a phone call from my agent, who is currently shopping around a new manuscript for me. He said “[Editor Redacted] is very interested in Shiny New Project, but he needs a synopsis to continue pitching it in-house. Can you get one to me by the end of the day?” I, of course, put a smile into my voice and said, “Of course.”
And the thing was, I wasn’t really lying. I could get him the synopsis. I hadn’t written it yet. But I had just finished putting together my speaker’s notes for a presentation to a local writing group — all about writing synopses.
I still haven’t heard back from [Editor Redacted] yet. But I figured there was no time like the present for sharing my thoughts on synopses. So, without further ado…
There’s a lot of confusion in our field [...]
Continue reading The S Word
John G. Hartness
I’ve said on many occasions that I don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ve said on fewer occasions, but meant it every time, that “occasion” is a word that never looks right, no matter how many times I type it.
And again, I prove that if I am the master of anything here at MW, it’s the random aside. I mean seriously, folks, who else is going to go off on a full-blown tangent before we finish sentence #2? Anyway, I don’t believe in writer’s block. But when I read the first few pages of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, I couldn’t write for a month. I didn’t have writer’s block, I just thought that if I couldn’t get to be that good, what was the point of writing at all? I’ve often likened it to being a teenager who’s taken three guitar lessons and then sees Eric Clapton for the first [...]
Continue reading Beginnings
A couple of weeks ago, Diana mentioned in a post the latest publishing kerfuffle, which pits Barnes & Noble against Simon & Schuster. (Feel free to check out Di’s post, as well as the other posts to which she links. I’ll wait.) The issues in this fight, as with so many other publishing industry conflicts, are murky at best. When corporate behemoths do battle, it’s hard to take sides because neither entity is terribly sympathetic. But you can always count on one thing: Whatever costs the giants incur as a result of their disagreement will be passed on a) to authors, and b) to consumers. Certainly that has been the case this time around.
I bring this up because lately I have been feeling deeply frustrated by this business and my precarious-as-always place in it. I’m a mid-lister. I’m not one of fantasy/science fiction’s big names. I’m too old to [...]
Continue reading A Writer’s Manifesto: The Doubts and Resolve of a Midlister
Earlier this week, I had lunch with a writer friend. The conversation turned, as writer-lunch-conversations are wont to do, to promotion — what each of us does to promote our work, and what we should be doing. My views on promotion have changed considerably, so I thought I’d share them here, and we can hash out what we thinks works and what doesn’t work.
I promoted my first novel, The Glasswrights’ Apprentice, with a self-financed book tour. I traveled up and down the West Coast, stopping at a dozen bookstores (Borders, B&N, and independents) for readings and signings. I spent weeks scheduling the visits, phoning community relation managers, begging for a calendar slot. In addition to the West Coast tour, I visited my hometown (Minneapolis) for a reading, and I hosted a reading in my then-town (D.C.) I hosted a book launch party at the law firm where I worked. [...]
Continue reading Get Yer Hot Fresh Books!
Two weeks ago, I wrote here about writing short fiction and how the challenges it presents differ from the challenges of writing novels. I want to expand on that a bit, and will use as my jumping off point a comment on that first post from regular site contributor Megan B. In her comment, Megan wrote (in part):
I think it’s worth considering that a short story set in a larger universe (e.g. the Thieftaker world, which you have established already in longer form) is a different beast than a stand-alone short story. It has it’s own advantages and challenges because it uses some people, places or concepts that the reader may or may not be familiar with.
On the one hand I think that Megan is absolutely correct: writing a short in an established world certainly makes the author’s job easier. In part this is just a matter of [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Short Fiction and Worldbuilding