Thanks again to the grade 9s of Sir George Simpson for the fun workshop!
As promised, here are the links for authors looking to get started on their publishing journey.
Other sites/resources to consider for networking, manuscript evaluation:
The manuscript continues to confound me, and I continue to try to **not** be frustrated, to remind myself that all books and stories grow in their own time, that the plotline will eventually make sense to me…some days, I’m more successful at these attempts to comfort myself than others.
In the meantime, I’ve been going through old files, partly to remind myself that even if it doesn’t feel like it on a daily basis, on a long-term basis, I’ve actually made progress and grown as a writer. The other part is to look at my notes and remember how difficult the manuscript was, but look at that!, I finished it.
The hilarious thing is that I came across a synopsis that I wrote–and submitted–in 2008. I’d forgotten back then a short synopsis was four pages, double-spaced. Four pages?! That’s a novel! These days it’s one page (two is pushing it, though I have seen editors/authors/agents say that two pages is fine, so perhaps it’s best to read the submission guidelines (and to have both a one-page and two-page synopsis at the read).
Some things to remember when writing a synopsis:
- Brevity — a synopsis details the main storyline and follows the arc of the main characters. Resist the urge to tell the agent/editor every single detail. At best, you have 500 words. Don’t waste them by focusing on the weather instead of the plot or characters.
- Introduction of characters — when I first mention a character, their name is in all-caps (i.e., Enter JOHN SMITH, the town crier and resident lost boy).
- Business, not artistry — while it feels counter-intuitive to *no* add flair and dramatics to the synopsis, don’t. That’s not its job. Its job is to give the editor/agent a sense of the story in a straight-forward way. And while we’re at it…
- Give the ending — the blurb is the back-jacket cover and that’s what will show up in your query letter. The synopsis is for the editors/agents, so you need to tell them the ending (they need to see how you resolve the storyline)
- The format — For me, I try to answer 5 questions when writing a synopsis: (1) Who are the main characters? (2) What is the event that unsets their lives? (3) How do they try to fix that event? (4) How does them trying to fix the problem make it worse? (5) What is the resolution?
There it is, some of the things I keep in mind when writing a synopsis.
And no writing to be had. Lots of thinking and pondering and researching, but no writing. Sometimes, I think that’s the most difficult part of being a writer—being still and patient while the story mixes itself together…
I heard a Margaret Atwood quote, “Remember trees don’t grow from air, they grow from dirt,” which reminded me that the best way to grow things is to add fertilizer, and all of it was an encouraging shot in the arm as I slog through this manuscript…correction, OUTLINE.
I’ve decided calling it a 1st draft or manuscript was putting too much pressure to make it perfect from the get-go, but an **outline**, well, an outline can be full of plotholes and ums and uhhs and inconsistencies, which is yet another thing to remind myself off when I get frustrated when I notice my default reaction for the characters are their eyes.
Boy, those eyes. They dart, gaze, glance, watch, flicker, widen. They show the character’s uncertainty, irritation, indecision.
But, breathe, Natasha, breathe. It’s not a manuscript. It’s an outline, so who cares if “eyes” are mention 465,287 times in 10 pages? Remember fertilizer makes things grow. Don’t fret if it’s all poopy, right now.
I figured out my story’s plotline and I have a chapter-by-chapter outline…so why does the writing feel like someone is taking out my wisdom teeth with a dull spoon?
Oh. Right. Because I’m trying to write **perfect** out of the gate, because I’m trying to hone the voice, and solve the plot holes, and create an aesthetic, all at the same time I’m sorting through getting the words on the page.
Breathe, I have to remind myself. Breathe and let it be an ugly, knotted mess. It’s a first draft, it’s supposed to be dirty-faced and knocked-kneed.
Three thousand words into the manuscript, and it’s delete, delete, delete.
I know the premise is good. It gives me chills. I’ve talked about the idea with fellow writers of different genres and it gives them chills, too.
The problem is the outline. Getting my character from A –> Z, figuring out **who** the character really is, and who are the people that surround them.
On the bright side, I have a couple of twists figured out, and I’ve decided that counts for something.
On the other bright side, finished edits on another manuscript and it’s out with Beta readers and that definitely counts for something!!
Okay, I think I’ve got the story idea that will become a manuscript, and that’s all I’m going to say until I type “the end.” 😛
Not only do they help make your book better and your story more polished, they also distract you from the work in progress that’s **not** working.
Super frustrated over the lack of novel writing. It’s been 19 days, NOT THAT I’M COUNTING, or anything. Not that I’m thinking that’s **almost** a month of lost words, lost work time…
It’s not that I don’t have any ideas. It’s just…there’s something off in all of them…it’s just that they all excited me equally. The last three manuscripts I drafted, I felt it, y’know?
I feel all of these on equal levels, they all terrify me on equal levels…
Today I woke up thinking of Agatha Christie saying she knew she was a professional author when she wrote even when she didn’t feel like it, didn’t like it, and wasn’t doing that great a job.
So, I’m going to try again, but instead of hoping for inspiration or some divine music from the heavens, I’m just going to try, without any expectation of what kind of outcome I want.