… and started my revision. After only, what, two years? I’ve decided on a couple of plot changes and I really need to tighten up my characters. But the first step is the hardest and I made it through chapter one yesterday. And even though I know I’ve gone through that chapter a dozen times or more, there was so much expository chaff left to delete. I think it will really strengthen my main character to be ruthless about the rumination. I thought of something else to adjust while I was trying to sleep last night, so maybe I’ll work on that today.
I need to send out a one page summary and my first ten pages for my conference critique and I only have a week before the due date so I really need to get those pages dealt with. I have a new version of my synopsis from my class, but it’s a page and a half and, while I suspect it’s fine for querying, it’s too long for the critique session.
I also need a new title. And I’m totally stymied. I like my working title, but I suspect it’s too pretentious for the genre. I’m just a little uncomfortable with it, but I can’t think of anything better and I’m getting frustrated. I have awesome titles for my next two projects so why can’t I think of one for my current project?
The second night of my synopsis/query class was last night and our homework was to bring a synopsis. In preparation for my critique session at the conference in September, I tried to make mine a page. I didn’t quite make it, but I was only over by 4 lines and I figured that was fine for a first draft. As per last week’s discussion, I tried to avoid the outline format and focus instead on the character arc and major events.
It got a pretty good response, especially considering that I’d written it the night before and then hadn’t looked at it again or had anyone else read it. But there were definitely some good criticisms, mostly to do with clarifying the brief mention of my background context and making my protagonist seem stronger. I also need to add in what happens at the end. In the interests of space I left that kind of vague but that was a deliberate omission on my part – not that I intend to leave it out in the final draft. I just ran out of room and figured I’d cut some chaff after the critique and then work the ending in later.
The thing I found the most interesting is listening to what people actually got form the synopsis. For example, I clarified something in discussion and one person said she hadn’t gotten that impression at all. My first impulse was to point to a sentence that pretty much said verbatim what I had just explained. How was she confused when it was right there? However, clearly there was something unclear about how I phrased that sentence or she wouldn’t have been confused, right? So, it was a good reminder that I can get a little in love with long, complex sentences and that can muddle my meaning. I do it when I speak, too, but it’s easier to catch and fix in writing. I just need to be aware of it. Hence, the third-person critique.
Conclusion: I really need to get a critique partner.
… write a synopsis. Which is, of course, the reason I’m taking a workshop on writing synopses. So that I have to do it. By Monday night.
I wrote a synopsis when I went to the Southern California Writer’s Conference a few years ago but, when I pulled it up and re-read it, it was super boring. I mean, the story sounds interesting (I’m biased, of course), but the style is just pedantic. It’s really more of an outline than a synopsis. There’s no voice, there’s no tag-line, there’s no eye-catching hook… dull reading. It’s less interesting than some of the curriculum I’ve written. Clearly I need to re-do it and since I need to have it for my workshop on Monday night, I’d better get to it. But I really don’t want to. I’d rather watch TV. Or surf the internet and read writing blogs. Or change diapers – no seriously. I really don’t want to write a synopsis.
And I can’t keep fro thinking about other projects. I have two more ideas for novels and I’m really excited about both of them. One is historical fiction set in 14th century England and the other is paranormal (possibly YA?). Thinking about them is way more interesting than writing a synopsis. Or re-writing my WiP. It makes me think of the following, which reminds us that new projects are, according to Ernessa T Carter, “big ol’ sluts”… (it’s the third video in the roll, I think).
I attended the first of four sessions of a workshop on synopses and query letters last night. I enjoyed it, although an unfortunately timed case of indigestion kept me form focusing as much as I would have liked. We talked about the structure and purpose of synopses and had time at the end to look at two – an unfinished synopsis from one of the instructirs for her new novel and one from a class participant. Next week we have to write and bring our own for critique.
I knew that was part of the deal with the workshop but I’m really nervous about getting critiqued. Obviously I need to get over it if I want to publish my novel, but it’s scary to think of eight strangers telling you (to your face) how your writing stinks. And of course it stinks – that’s the whole point of a workshop. If I knew how to write a great synopsis I wouldn’t be taking the class! I read through the synopsis I wrote two years ago for a conference and it’s… well, it’s informative. It’s also choppy, dry, and long. In effect, it’s an outline of the story. I think my novel has good voice but in reading my synopsis, you can tell that my default writing style is academic.
But I got some good ideas about how to fix it last night and now I just need to find time to work on it before next week’s class. One of the best suggestions was to create a “tag line” for the novel – a one or two sentence blurb to answer the question, “what’s the book about?” To do that, I need to actually figure out what the book IS about. Is is about scientific discovery? Is it about the persecution of science by culture? Is it about the potential abuses of government in time of crisis? Is it a love story? Is it a coming of age story where our heroine finds untapped resources of strength and personal character? Yes. It is. So how do I boil that down into one or two sentences? I need to identify the strongest and most important theme and focus on that in the synopsis. I’m glad I have a whole week…