What to include in a Synopsis

Once Upon A Time, Writer, Author, Story

Hands up who finds writing a synopsis harder than writing a book? I know I do.

A synopsis is a selling tool. It’s what the editor and publisher use to decide if you’ve written a novel they want to sell. If you are thinking of working with an agent, you might find that they will ask you to provide a synopsis.

Before submitting your manuscript and synopsis make sure the publisher publishes the same genre that you have written. You don’t want to waste their time or yours.

An editor will have set guidelines for you to follow. Some want a 1-page synopsis while others may request 2 pages. They may also request your synopsis to be single or double spaced. The publishing house that I recently looked at said they wanted 500 words with single spacing. Make sure you adhere to the guidelines. If an editor asks for 500 words, don’t write 1,000 and think, they’ll love my story because I wrote it. Wrong!

A synopsis is an outline describing the events that take place in your novel and it is usually written in third person present tense. Type your name at the top right-hand corner and the title of your novel underneath it.

The editor wants to know the protagonist’s conflict and whether it is strong enough to make readers want to read your novel to the end. Therefore, a synopsis must provide answers to the following questions:

  • What is the story about?
  • Who are the main characters and what do they want?
  • Why do they want it and what stands in their way?
  • What is the setting, tone and pace of your novel?

Include any sub-plots and how they interact or affect the plot and characters.

Leave out description and dialogue.

You must tell them everything that happens in the book.

When you’ve finished writing it, read your synopsis out aloud to see if it flows. At the moment, I’ve got a lot of work to do on mine because it sounds like he did this, she did that.

When you send it to the editor via mail, make sure you write on the envelope: ‘requested material for e.g. Melisa Quigley’s manuscript. Do the same thing in the subject line if sending it via email. That way you avoid it being placed in the slush pile.

Good luck!

 

 

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Writing and being a writer

Female, Diary, Journal, Write, Beautiful

Today, I thought I’d share something about being a writer.

 

Some people would say writing creates stress, but I believe writing relieves stress. Writers can create characters and take all your stress out on them.

When they do research, they gain knowledge about different topics.

Writers are curious. They want to know about things and what makes people the way they are.

Writers are always learning about themselves and their characters, the world and the world their characters live in.

They have a sense of purpose. When they wake up they set their intention for the day about their work in progress etc.

Writing is full of endless possibilities and opportunities. It’s never boring because there are so many things to write about. If what they’re writing about doesn’t work out they can always write something else.

 

 

Improving your writing skills

Daisies, Book, Read, Writing Materials

This month I’d like to talk about how to improve your writing skills. It’s easy to brush up on any skill – practice, practice, practice until you get it right.

I’ve listed some tips below that you may find useful:

Reading

I know you’ve probably heard it repeatedly but to be a good writer you need to read widely. Don’t read one genre, try reading different ones and immerse yourself as much as you can. In doing so, you will broaden your expertise and see different styles and techniques that other writers use.  Try reading the newspaper, magazines, literary fiction as well as YA, Fantasy, Romance etc.

Read something every day. I set a target of reading for 1-2 hours each day. Over time you’ll notice your writing improving.

Read a book about writing

Robert McKee’s book is a good place to start. His book, Story, talks about substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting and writing fiction.

Join a writer’s group

Joining a writing group is a wonderful way to obtain feedback about your writing. Look for one in your local area. I joined one six weeks ago and the feedback has been invaluable. My group has pointed out things about my story that I hadn’t even thought of. You’ll meet other like-minded individuals who can provide you with suggestions and ideas about your writing and you can do the same for them so it’s a win-win for everyone concerned.

Online writing courses

Here is a list of 75 free online courses that you can have a look at to help improve your writing skills when you have the time to do so:

https://www.class-central.com/report/writing-free-online-courses/

Schedule your writing

I must admit, I don’t have a schedule. When I’m not working, I’m either washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning or visiting friends. The fact is I still manage to write and read and I’m not up until midnight every night. I like to read on public transport and write in the solitude of my home. Find out what works for you and make time to write and read.

Rewrite

A good writer is one who rewrites. It’s part of writing. Like I’ve mentioned in one of my other blog posts, put your manuscript, poem or short story away and bring it out a couple of weeks or a month later and see if it needs a complete rewrite.

I hope this helps.

If you want to know more about me you can read an interview I did recently here: http://empowered-individuals.blogspot.com/2019/02/melisa-quigley-interview-with-melisa.html?m=1

 

 

Writing and reading

Books, Notepad, Pen, Education, Notebook

I know you’ve probably heard this before but I’ll say it in case you haven’t – the more you read the better your writing will be.

Wip

Don’t ask other people what their wip is. This will only put pressure on you. Start slow and aim for a small amount of words each day. If you manage to write more, well done. If you don’t it doesn’t matter. As long as you writing something each day, that is all that matters.

When to write

Write at a time that suits you. If you work, like I do, you may want to write before work, in your lunch break or after work. I like to write after work.

Programs

Don’t get bogged down in programs like Scrivener, Evernote, Google Drive, Microsoft One Note and Dropbox. Programs are great when they work but if they crash you may lose everything.

I like to write my novel by hand first and type it into a word document. When I’ve finished I always save the current version of my draft onto a USB stick. I believe in keeping things simple.

Paper etc

For the first draft you can use a journal, exercise book or type it into a word document in your laptop or computer. Use whichever modality feels best for you.

Spelling

Make sure you always spellcheck your work after you’ve typed it. Grammarly is a good way check grammar and punctuation. You can copy and paste your work into Grammarly. You can replace the edited version back into your draft and save it onto a USB stick like I do ready for the next round of typing.

Happy writing!

 

Fantasy

fantasy

 

Have you ever considered writing Fantasy?

Here are some tips to help you write a short story or novel about fantasy.

1             Plot your story

Even though you have to create a new world, creatures and other imagery you must make sure that your writing is good and that your characters are interesting and motivated. Make sure your plot is interesting and unfolds in a logical and engaging way and that your description is vivid so the reader can feel as though they are there.

2            Setting

If you’re having trouble finding a setting, look for a time in interesting that excites you and add some magic.

3            What sort of Fantasy story are you writing?

Some fantasy stories start with a character/s in the real world and  go into another world and come back again like The Fairyland Series. Other fantasy stories are in a fantasy world from the first page and the storyline is based in that world like The Lord of the Rings. These are only two examples of what fantasy stories are like. Yours may be different.

4            Dialogue

Make sure your characters’ dialogue matches the society live in.5

5            Magic

Using magic is a challenge. The trick is not to overuse it. Remember a genie grants three wishes? Don’t overload your story with magic.

I hope the above information helps you.

Happy writing!

Memoir

So you want to write your memoir. Here are a few tips to help you.

First of all, memoir is autobiographical, but it’s not your life story.

An autobiography is your birth to the present whereas a memoir draws on selected anecdotes from your life to that are around a theme that make a point. For example, if you came from a broken home and became wealthy, you would choose scenes from your life to support that. You could start your memoir showing what things were like for you in the beginning and then show the following:

  • pivotal experiences
  • people who helped you transform
  • what you learned
  • how you changed

If your story is interesting, the better your memoir will be. Memoirs succeed when they resonate with readers because readers identify with truth. When you write a memoir always remember this: it’s not about you, it’s about what readers can gain from your story. If your story doesn’t enrich and entertain readers they won’t keep reading it or recommend it.

It must have a theme

All people, regardless of age, ethnicity, location, and social status, share certain needs, for example, food, dwelling and love. Most people fear dying, abandonment, loneliness losing a loved one. It doesn’t matter what your theme is because if it touches on any of those wants and fears, readers will identify with it.

Remember, no one has written your story/memoir your way so don’t be frightened that people have heard your story before.

Anecdotes

Let the reader see themselves in your story so they can identify with your experiences. That way they can apply to their own lives the lessons you’ve learned.

If you’re afraid to mine your pain deeply enough tell the whole truth, you may not be ready to write your memoir. There’s little less helpful — or marketable — than a memoir that glosses over the truth.

Anecdotes need to support your theme. If you are introspective and vulnerable your memoir will be more effective.

It’s written like a novel

If you’re writing about yourself it should be written in first-person point of view.

Remember to show don’t tell, just like you would if you were writing fiction.

What you learn along the way is your character arc. There should be a marked difference between who you were in the past and who you are now.

I hope that helps.

Happy writing!

Freewriting

So you want to write but don’t know what you want to write about. Here’s a way to help you find a topic. It’s called Freewriting.

 

I think Freewriting can be summed up like this: don’t think, just write sentences and paragraphs without stopping. It will increase your flow of ideas and your ability to write them. Don’t worry about accuracy, just write. The idea is not to think about what other people will say about your writing because they won’t see it. Just write. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. You can read it later. Don’t focus on grammar. If you can’t think of something just keep writing a word that comes into your head. For example nothing to write, nothing to write, until an idea flows. Believe me, something will eventually come.

 

Keep writing for 30 minutes. Next, read what you’ve written and see if you can build on it. Try doing this every day, starting with a new idea that comes to mind. Repeat the process until you find something that makes you want to keep writing. Read it and see if you can refine it and keep going.