A synopsis demonstrates your ability to craft a good story and should make the agent/editor want to read your whole manuscript.

Many authors loathe the synopsis, I know I do. The novel must be condensed and you can’t leave anything out, including the ending. If an editor/agent has given you guidelines as to how long the synopsis should be make sure you follow their instructions. Don’t think they’ll accept more or less words/pages. You need to show the agent/editor that you can craft a well-rounded story. They will be able to pick out any flaws that you’ve made.

Remember a movie that you’ve seen where you were hooked in straight away? You need to do that so that the editor/agent will give it the publisher to have a look at. The best thing to do is use emotive language that makes your manuscript standout.


Stimulating creative thought

You can stimulate your creative thought by doing a writing exercise or use a writing prompt. Here are some that may help you.

Writing exercises

  1. How did George get into the house?
  2. Why did he decide to see Julia?
  3. What are the consequences for Sandra?


  1. Why did Bob leave the party?
  2. How did Eva find her way home without him?
  3. What did the police tell Bob about his car the next morning?

Writing Prompts

A writing prompt is an idea that starts the writing process and can be a short sentence, a paragraph, a picture, or a series of words. The main purpose of any of these is to ignite your creativity so you’ll begin writing.

If you’re stuck while writing a short story or novel, try doing a writing prompt for ten minutes. It will help stimulate your ideas and the creative process.

Choose a set of three elements, and imagine a story that contains all three of them:

  1. A burglar alarm, a love note, and an untimely sneeze.
  2. An incorrect prediction, two phone numbers and a sleepless night.
  3. A wedding, a bad habit, and a question better left unasked.
  4. A Facebook profile, a runaway, and two people with the name name.
  5. A lost toy, a rooftop, and a potentially dangerous animal.
  6. A rumor, blue contact lenses and a mouthful of snow.

I hope all of the above helps to stimulate your creative thought.

Write a letter to your younger self

Have you ever written a letter to yourself?

This is a good writing exercise because it helps you think about your reader as a real person with emotions.  You can write to yourself at any age. It doesn’t matter what age you choose.

Make sure you:

  1.  View the younger you as a real and separate person.
  2.  Choose a theme. For example you could offer advice, compassion, or explain something that you didn’t understand then, but you do now.

Start writing and keep going for as long as you can.


Scheduling writing

Instead of saying ‘I have to do this or I have to do that,’ start writing. It doesn’t matter when you write, just do it.

When you sit down to write, don’t be afraid of how it will come out.

Enjoy the process.

Always celebrate the work you’ve done, not matter the result. Making time for yourself and doing some writing is a good accomplishment.

Remember if you start writing a page a day at the start of the year you’ll have a book by the end of the year.


Starting your novel too early

You might be tempted to begin your narrative before the action actually starts, for example, when the character wakes up, to what will eventually be a challenging or dramatic day. But unless you’re rewriting Sleeping Beauty, waking up isn’t challenging or dramatic. Often when we start writing this way, it’s because we’re struggling to write our way into the narrative, rather than letting the story develop momentum of its own. It is better to begin where there is a huge conflict. If the protagonist’s early morning rituals are essential to the story line, or entertaining, they can always be included in backstory or flashbacks – or later, when he/she wakes up for a second time.

Remember: small hooks catch more fish than big ones.

Large hooks can disappoint readers if the subsequent narrative doesn’t measure up. If you begin writing at the most dramatic or tense moment in your story, you have nowhere to go but downhill. Similarly, if your hook is strange or misleading, you might have trouble  living up to its odd expectations.  The trick is to use a small hook and then pull in the opposite direction.

Most readers prefer to be grounded in context and then to focus in. Open your story in the same way.

One of the easiest pitfalls in starting a story is to begin with an opening line that is confusing upon first reading, but that makes sense once the reader learns additional information later in the story. The problem is that if a reader is confused they won’t continue reading. Therefore, the opening should make sense with and without knowledge the reader will acquire later.


Hooks grab an editor’s attention and set the tone of the rest of the story to make sure the readers stay tuned through to the end.

To craft a compelling story, you must first launch it in the right direction. Never forget that the entire course of a story or novel, like an avalanche, is largely defined within its first seconds.

Opening lines should possess most of the individual craft elements that make up the story as a whole. An opening line should have:

  • a distinctive voice
  • a point of view
  • a rudimentary plot
  • characterization.

At the end of the first paragraph, we should know the setting and conflict unless there is a particular reason to withhold this information.

Opening lines raise multiple questions, but not an infinite number. In other words, it carries momentum.

The letter

Related image

Despite the rain everything seemed brighter like a sunny autumn day, and I felt warm and happy, eager to see what Dave would be like after all these years. I unpacked the groceries and went into my bedroom and lifted the top end of my mattress and pulled out Dave’s envelope which was creased and dirty from all the times I’d opened it over the years. I knew what the letter said because I’d read it so many times. His words held hope in my heart and I couldn’t help but look at it again to see his writing, the only thing that seemed familiar about him to me. His message was short. He wrote that he had something he wanted to ask me face-to-face and that he’d be home in two weeks. For years, I dreamed the same dream. Dave faces me and holds my hands. He looks me in the eyes and opens his mouth to speak and I wake up.  I can’t remember how many times I’ve had that dream. It is always the thirteen-year-old Dave that I see. Now we are both twenty-three. No matter how much I try, my mind refuses to create an older Dave. Instead, he’s locked in the past where I last saw him.