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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Friday Focus


Many years ago I came across Lisa Gardner’s Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis: A Series of Ten Lectures. I was very impressed and when I was asked to do a workshop on presenting manuscripts to publishers I wrote and asked Lisa if I could use her Lectures as an example of how to write a synopsis. She gave her permission and I’m sure many people since have found her lectures very helpful.

This is Lisa's introduction to the series of ten lectures about writing a synopsis.

Synopsis writing is one of the most difficult tasks any writer faces. Most novel-length authors have an undying love for the written word. We craft wonderful 70,000-100,000 word books with beautiful descriptions, complicated plots, and complex characters. Now, we’re supposed to summarize our magnum opus in merely three pages?
It seems impossible. But for any writer serious about selling her work, sooner or later she must undergo the submission process with its boilerplate query letters and stringent length requirements. The purpose of the following ten lectures is to help guide a new writer through this complicated, formalized process. The lectures are:
  “Synopsis: Introduction” ©2000 Lisa Gardner Page 1

Lecture One: The Market
Lecture Two: The Query Letter
Lecture Three: Synopsis Overview
Lecture Four: Short Synopsis Examples
Lecture Five: Creating a Strong Hook
Lecture Six: Identifying Plot Points
Lecture Seven: Short Synopsis Outlines
Lecture Eight: The Long Synopsis
Lecture Nine: Full Submission
Lecture Ten: Final Summary of Submission Do’s and Don'ts

The first lecture covers how to view a novel as an objective product to be marketed, versus the precious child it has become. Then we will go through the submission process step-by-step, starting with the query letter, then spending significant time on developing the short synopsis before covering the long synopsis. The lectures on the query letter and short synopsis include generic outlines for a writer to follow, as well as award-winning examples of proposals. Finally, we’ll cover the complete submission package along with proper follow up protocol as you anxiously wait for an editor to read your work.
By the end of this fifty page lecture series, you should have a good idea of what an editor expects in the submission package, as well as some best-in-class examples for you to follow.

To download all ten lectures visit Lisa’s webpage for writers and find this and many other helpful things such as The Writers Toolbox.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Friday Focus

Cultivating a love of words

The writer has many tools in their box, of these, words surely are the most important. The more you enjoy words, the better you will use them. That’s not to say you have to know the meaning or history of every word you use, but sometimes really understanding a word will add a new dimension to it, which will allow you to use it in a refreshing or different way, and that will lift your writing. Similarly, it might suggest not using it, and that, too, might benefit your writing. Besides all that – words are so much fun.
Not all words are created equal, of course, and we all have favourites and least favourites. ‘Moist’, I believe, is among the least favourite of many. Personally, if I can get through life without using the word ‘pulchritudinous’ I will be very happy, especially as this (imo) extremely ugly word means ‘very beautiful’. I suspect that said with an Italian accent ‘pulchritude’ is not so bad.
Favourite words. Now, that’s hard. But I do love the word ‘capricious’. I could write a whole article on this word. It sort of comes from the word for ‘goat’ (think ‘Capricorn’) and the way they move and behave. This is one of the reasons I love the word – I have a huge fondness for goats! I think it’s a good thing to know what influences your love (or dislike of words too – often they have personal associations). But ‘capricious’ also comes from an Italian word for a lively piece of ‘free’ music, and that comes from the term for the hairs standing up on the back of your neck … and that comes from a combination of two words meaning ‘head’ and ‘hedgehog’!!!! So it can have rather spooky connotations (a word that itself has an interesting history, coming from ‘con’ – together with, and ‘nota’ – to mark/note, so it means ‘an additional meaning’).

Random Friday facts:
*The word ‘jot’ and the word ‘iota’ are, in fact, the same word. The letter ‘j’ did not exist in the classical world and was, instead, written ‘ie’ (which, to confuse things more, looks like IH in Greek). Iota is the name of the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet and is the smallest - simply a ‘jot’ (the Ancient Greeks didn’t dot their ‘I’s).
*Speaking of which, the word Alphabet is from the first two letters of the Greek, well, Alphabet – Alpha and Beta.
*Did you know that the word ‘Conversation’ shares a root with ‘convert’ and has to do with the fact that a good conversation should change both the participants’ mind sets?
*The word ‘conspire’ comes from the same root as ‘inspire’ and ‘expire’. It literally means ‘to breathe together’.
*Similar to the word ‘inspire’, the word ‘enthuse’ (enthusiasm) also means to be filled with the breath of the divine. It comes initially from religious fervour associated with the worship of Apollo.
*Finally: the word for a lover of words is ‘logophile’.

So, there you are. Collect words, understand words, fall in love with words, use words to maximum effect and watch your writing come alive.



Monday, October 29, 2018

NaNoWriMo is almost here!

Years ago I did NaNoWriMo – for those who don't know what this means it's National Novel Writing Month – and found it very helpful. Over the intervening years I lapsed a bit with my writing but this year I'm going to give it another try as I have an epic fantasy I want to get moving. 

NaNoWriMo are very helpful and have decided to put some articles on their site to help first time writers, but the article will also be halpful to people like me who haven't done NaNo for several years. Here's the link.

Happy Writing.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Friday Focus

Pantser or Plotter?

New creative writers may not recognise the question pantser or plotter but I’m sure they will have heard the phrase – by the seat of your pants. Some authors prefer to plot their stories, either working out every scene from start to finish, or as a brief description to give their muse a nudge when they sit down to write.

Others – myself included – prefer to write – by the seat of their pants – or get the idea for the story, but when the author starts writing they have no true idea how the story is going to pan out. I like the uncertainty of what will happen next and find the story guides me the way it wants to go. Friends who are plotters prefer to be in control of most aspects of their story.

 Ready to write? Don’t know what to write? It’s Halloween next week, how about a ghost, horror or vampire story? Or a romance that starts with trick or treat? The choice is yours.

So which way is right? Both. It depends on the individual. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. This is the same when it comes to work schedules. Some authors prefer to sit down at a certain time each day and work for a number of hours, while others prefer to write whenever the mood takes them. Again, it’s really up to the individual.

One of the most important things to do when you get ready to write is to find somewhere comfortable, preferably where you won’t be disturbed. Try and decide what you want to write several hours before the actual deed and always leave off when you know what’s going to happen next. This way you won’t sit staring at the computer screen for minutes or hours before you carry on writing.

Happy Writing.