Sunday 9 March 2014

The Dreaded Synopsis continues...A light to the dark side?

     In my last post, I shared my reluctance to starting a synopsis. I was finding it particularly difficult to divulge the secret plot twists of my story upfront and personal like a synopsis requires. Now that I know it is mandatory, and in my own best interest as a hopeful writer, I set aside some time today to take on this task.
     I spent a good portion of my evening facing the daunting task of writing a synopsis for my not quite completed novel Going for Gold. Hopefully I won't lose any points as it is already a month after I was lucky enough to win a critique of the beginning of my book, it's just prior to that author requesting one along with the start of my story, the idea of a synopsis had yet to cross my mind. It has been longer than I care to admit since I have last had to attempt a synopsis and as I am quickly learning, I might as well get used to writing these if I want to become a published author.

     To make sure I was at least on the beaten path, I searched for tips for writing a synopsis online. While there are more articles and examples then I can ever read, I kept my search brief to avoid wasting more time. After sifting through examples and templates that didn't quite fit my story line, I felt relieved to find a template for romance writers.  I'm sure that through practice, I will develop something that comes more naturally for me, but lack that experience with synopsis writing and found I could easily follow Katie Ganshert's template here: I began to fill in the blanks with tidbits about my story, and was very surprise at how suddenly I discovered a few areas that need some more depth worked into them. Currently, there are some points I have skimmed over, perhaps under-emphasize, but working through my synopsis, I learned that they need to be revisited.

     Maybe the synopsis is not such a bad thing after all. Anything that comes with a highlighter to areas of improvement in my work is never a bad thing in my opinion. Who knows, maybe my new found appreciation for synopses will turn my final draft into an agent's pick!
Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake? Wish me luck!

Thursday 6 March 2014

That dreaded....synopsis? A question for fellow writers...

     Yesterday I wrote about overcoming a current snag with working in some transitions to better connect some of my scenes and chapters. Thankfully I have the confidence to push through and get on to another task at hand, because let's face it: there is always another task at hand.
     While I may not be 100% finished my novel, I am at the 70,000 word count milestone and since I know the additional scenes to work in, I also have to start thinking of the bigger picture: the finish line and all that comes after that. Not only was I fortunate enough to pique the interest of an agent at the 2013 Surrey International Writer's Conference - my first time attending and my first pitch ever. I also recently won a critique by a published author while attending a Romance Writer's of America Greater Vancouver Chapter Valentine's event. Okay so February may have come and gone already, and not I have not submitted my pages for critique yet. And I can honestly say fear is not standing in my way of progress: I need all the feedback I can get so I can make my novel as wrinkle-free as possible and ready for submission. It's just that, with this critique, a synopsis was required.
     I'm going to be brutally honest here, I had to look up and refresh my memory what a synopsis is. Ridiculous coming from an aspiring author, right? I have taken writing courses in college, but it's been a decade since I had heard, seen or read a synopsis.
     Really, how hard can they be?
     Harder than I thought, that's for sure. I know what my story is about, that's not the problem.
It's the giving away 'the goods' - all the plot twists, conflicts and so on - that I'm finding most difficult. Yes, I know. I've checked into this and learned that it's mandatory. There are no exceptions. A synopsis must include all the secrets of the story.
     There is a part of my that wants to shout out: "what's the point of that?" Why would anyone want to read the full story if they pretty much have all the details summarized for them? They know exactly what's going to happen. Where's the fun in that? Where's the surprise? That to me is like accidentally seeing a spoiler for your favourite TV show or a newly released movie before you get to watch it for yourself. Seeing as I loathe spoilers, I can easily see where the reluctance comes from.
What I need to know is, how do I suppress this defiant part of myself that wants to hold onto these details. What's the best way to approach a synopsis for someone who hasn't had a lot of <recent> practice writing them? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


Wednesday 5 March 2014

If You Have To Force It....An Epiphany. (Working through Writer's Block & more).

     As I have always known, the more busy I am with outside obligations such as my rent-paying day job and my heart-filling fundraising, the less I accomplish with my writing. There is only so much fire this fuel can spark. Nevertheless, I still tried. It's just despite my efforts lately, I haven't been getting very far.
     Lately I have become more aware of the downside of being, as I usually describe myself, "a scene writer." I don't write stories chapter by chapter, but more from scene to scene. I have always been this way. As much as I love it: I find it as entertaining as reading a book because I too don't know what's going to happen next, I have discovered some downsides. One slight pitfall to this particular style of writing is trying to figure out which scenes build up into which chapter - I haven't tried to discern this yet - I will leave that for my formatting days. The downside I am face to face with now is making sure there are transitions in place to smoothly move from one scene or chapter to the next.
     I have been working on my current novel for roughly a year, and it's quite closed to finished. 70,000 words and counting. Except of course for the few places I knew I needed to revisit to build in some better transitions. It's more challenging task than I expected. While some transitions surprise me and seemingly write themselves, others are more like pulling teeth. Particularly, I've been at an utter standstill, anguishing over a necessary transitional chapter that will better connect my third and fifth chapters. I've started three or four versions but can't seem to finish any of them.
     They do not feel right, therefore do not fit right either. Just like working one's way through a jigsaw puzzle, if the piece doesn't fit, there is not point forcing it as it's just going to ruin the rest of the project.
     That's the epiphany I had today. I've been trying to force something that's not meant to be. This is why it's not working. I didn't have a chapter between them before because there was never supposed to be one there. It's exactly like those well-known memes say, if you have to force it, it's probably shite.
     Interestingly, as soon as I have made this realization, I seem to be able to easily work in a few transitional sentences instead. Suddenly I can see the wrinkles being smoothed. I will be able to complete this task and move on to the next.
     Suddenly, I can breathe.