Friday, July 27, 2012

Query Angst

There is so much going on in the world right now. Last Saturday we celebrated a wonderful, joyous family event. Yay!! The Olympics Opening Ceremonies are tonight. London feels like my second city so I’m especially excited about this one. Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson. The list goes on. But at this moment the only thing I can feel is angst about the Query Letter.

Workable first drafts of the synopses are finished, and with all of the out of town family gone I can no longer put off the inevitable task. When last we met here in Blog-land I was crying about writing the synopsis, and now that I’m working on the query I’m looking back on that other task rather fondly.

 I was so blissfully na├»ve when I first started writing last summer. Aww. I had a couple of ideas for books, and how fun it would be to write them! I knew little or nothing about synopses, queries, platforms, marketing, et al. My romantic notions of what it is to be a writer were dashed when I first encountered these terms. But as I’ve said in the past, I’m not one to let a challenge deter me. So it’s been a few days of searching books and looking online for information on, and examples of excellent query letters. But, as in the case of the synopses, no two sources agree with one another. What’s a fledgling writer to do?

At the moment it looks like I will take the best of several sources and be true to my own voice. I think I’m beginning to see a way through. But I have a favor to ask my readers. I would love to run a few successful query letters here in my blog, perhaps one a week or so. If you would be willing to share your successful query letter please email me:  Of course you will get plenty of mentions of your book and where to purchase it! And you would have the wonderful feeling of knowing you’ve helped the newbie writers out there.

Thank you, and happy writing!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing the Damned Synopsis

Ah, it’s summer vacation! The classroom is packed up, the children are enjoying time away from school, and their teacher finally gets some writing time. It should be bliss. Except that first on my list of writing to-dos is “write the damned synopsis.” I’ve put it off as long as possible, but the time has come. (Cue music that indicates doom and gloom)

In doing my research on synopsis writing I’ve come across plenty of mentions that this is the one task almost universally dreaded by authors. That makes a fledgling writer feel a little bit better, but it still doesn’t help get the task done. When I decided I should go ahead and submit my first novel, (previously known in this blog as my “practice” novel, but now that I’m planning on submitting I’ve decided it should have a better appellation), I knew the most daunting tasks weren’t the rewrites, but the query letter and synopsis. So this past week, I put butt in chair and started working on the synopsis. Something quite passable came out of the task. I did my happy dance. But, wait, what’s this? Every publisher has a different page requirement for synopses? And they don’t tell you anything about required formatting such as line spacing? And one publisher doesn’t want pages, it wants less than 200 words? Come on! (Cue more doom and gloom music- make it gloomier this time!)

I was so pleased with myself that I was able to condense my 74,000 word novel into a two page synopsis. Well, I was able to make it two pages when I changed the line spacing from 2 to 1.5 on the recommendations of several agents’ blog posts on the subject. But I wanted to cry, and maybe I did just a little, when I saw that one of the publishers to whom I plan to submit requires a synopsis of only 200 words, or less. How to do that? Or better yet, how to do that and make it sound like something more than a blurb? Shouldn’t it, at the very least, convey the conflict, beginning, middle, and end? I set out to see what I could do. I must have at least ten different versions saved on my computer. None of them is perfect. But one, with a bit of tweaking, might do. I call it the ‘supermarket line version’—the way I’d explain my story to someone standing next to me in line at the supermarket.

If I learned only one thing about synopsis writing that I would share with another novice it would be the supermarket line method. But I would recommend that a writer BEGIN by writing the short, short version first, and distill the story down to its very most basic essence. THEN, move on to the fleshed out versions, be they two pages, or ten. If nothing else, writing the 200 word synopsis was an excellent exercise for me.

Now, that query letter… (This requires nothing less than a Bach fugue written in a minor key)