Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness Check-in Day 21 — The Devil's Reject?

Wow, Wipsters! We have already hit the official start of spring and we're 9 days from the end of this month's madness. Are you patting yourself on the back yet?  Well, let's start with a prize, then.

Today's winner is:
TONETTE DELA LUNA

Congratulations! You can choose from the fabulous list of prizes HERE. Then email Denise at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com and let her know your choice. 


Okay. So, I just can't help myself. I have to continue with our Back to the Future theme and share this little gem—the rejected pitch:




We get a little taste of rejection and the hell that is summing up your story in a way that sells it just enough but not too much. Some of you may have been subjected to my recent rants on the evil synopsis as I banged out my application for the SCBWI WIP Grant. It does seem a little psychotic to write the synopsis before I finish the story...or does it? I have to say that every time I put myself through this hell, I do end up with a better understanding of where my story could go and how it might be interpreted.

I say could because the WIP synopsis and the MS synopsis are two completely different critters. One you write because you are a masochist...okay, maybe you write it so you can win a grant or something..., the other you write so you can get a book contract.  Usually the second looks almost nothing like the first by the time you emerge from the flames.

When it comes to the evil synopsis, I usually commit one of two sins. 1) I spend all of my time creating atmosphere and emotional arcs, or 2) I summarize too many details of the plot.  So what is the magic formula? Like everything else in writing, it's about balance and honesty. Easier said than done, right?

In my google mania, I found a few sources that had some good advice to offer:

  • Where the Map Ends offers a great preamble about what a synopsis is NOT and then clarifies what it is. Jeff tends to be more script oriented, but it is a good sketch of things in general and he describes a few different kinds of story structures.
  • Writer's Digest's Chuck Sambuchino offers a fabulous list of sample synopses from films.
  • Cristy Burne gives us more general advice and a sample of her own process.
  • Glen Strathy lists the basic elements and suggests a notecard approach that allows you to organize your pieces in a hands-on way before you even start the draft.

But if you want a really no nonsense guide to writing your synopsis, check out Cynthea Liu's Anatomy of a Synopsis. She really takes the "dreaded" out of "synopsis" and boils it down to the basics.

One bonus to writing the synopsis before I finish the book is the string of epiphanies that line up as I force myself to put the pieces together. There they are...little nuggets of revelation that have got to make a better book. And a trail of blood to the finish!

Wherever you are in the process, just remember to look for the breadcrumbs (aka drops of blood) that might reveal a brave new path for your book. Speaking of GPS locations (wink, wink)...how is the madness today, wipsters?









36 comments:

  1. Haha, great clip!

    I am an info-dumper when I write a synopsis. I start with WAY too much then spend a really long time trying to edit it down. That is pretty much my WIPs, too.

    I have the last few chapters almost written in my first draft, but they feel out of order, so I need to do some rearranging later today. Then *hopefully* I can officially say "done!" in the next few days. (at least for now)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hurray for the almost done, Jennifer! And I struggle with the info dump at times, too. Cheryl Klein gave a great talk about that at the Pocono Retreat a few years ago, and I still hear her in my head when I start running on with too much backstory. Have fun moving those chapters!

      Delete
  2. Good for you Mary Ann! Yay for evil synopsis in the mail!

    Woke up to snow. That's my resident evil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! It can't last too much longer, JRo! I hope they aren't adding days to the end of your school year to cover for snow days...what a drag!

      Delete
  3. So proud of you for fighting through and sending it off!

    Hormonal fluctuation is my nemesis. Just when I think I'm okay, hormones take over my brain and throw me into a tumultuous sea of emotion. Then I'm okay again, for a few weeks. Then it starts all over again. Thank goodness I'm in a good pressure-free place with my writing. Dealing with this break-up is hard enough. I'm glad I'm not dealing with any other form of rejection right now. ^_^ So I can just enjoy my revisions and not think about any of the "publishing stuff" that filled the last five years of my life with angst. I'll get back to that when I'm ready. If you're there, Wipsters, you have my deepest sympathy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually like the revision stage, too, Angelina. It's like having all the clay in that basic shape you want and now you get to add the good stuff, reshape it into what you know it can become.

      I hate the hormonal stuff. I've had some wild rides with it, but thankfully right now it's pretty stable. ((HUGS))

      Delete
  4. Thanks for all the great links. I look forward to checking them out. So happy you got your synop written and sent out!!

    At the moment, I'm treading water in the rejection pool. Not fun. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks, with the help of my agent, we can make a few revisions so she can send out to a new batch of editors. I'd hate to see this PB get trashed, but unfortunately that's the nature of this unpredictable beast we call publishing. I still have hope, but the feeling-like-a-failure moments can be bothersome. At least I have another ms to keep me busy! I love the feeling with playing with a new story, it's so fulfilling. :)

    Hugs, Angelina!

    YIPPEES & CONGRATS, Tonette!!!

    I just realized I haven't rapped yet this year. So for today's words of encouragement I've got a little diddy for y'all...

    It goes a little sumptin' like dis!

    Who's in da house? Mad Marchers!
    Wipp'ing up some madness, creating tons of badness
    Reading tons of books, writing crafty hooks
    Revisions on our wips, eatin' lots of chips
    Synops make us bleak, queries make us freak
    Blogging awesome posts & KUDOS TO OUR HOSTS!
    Who's in da house? Mad Marchers!

    Carry on, fellow Wipsters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh, I meant I love the feeling OF playing with a new story. Sorry, I had rap on the brain.

      Delete
    2. OMG! This is so fabulous!!! Love it!

      That rejection pool is cold...but you will always have a lifeline with the wipsters! Hang in there and best of luck with the revisions!

      Delete
  5. Cynthea Liu's site rescued me back when I had to tackle my first syn... They do get easier to do, these soul-robbing story-chopping how-m-gonna-do-it things.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for all those synopsis links! I'm pathetic at writing synopses (but thankfully I've always had good help!)

    Still at the grindstone of these tedious revisions. I completed one section that was stressing me out last night (YAY!) so I'm hoping to use that good momentum to get another one done today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woohoo! Way to go, Denise! Here's to keeping that momentum going!

      Delete
  7. I've been writing blurbs this week for short stories I've had published, unwritten books in a series and for a MS. Hands down, I'd rather write them or longer synopsises for unwritten stories. It's so hard to leave some details out of them. Gag, I believe my next project is a a one page synopsis for a MS. I wish I could just use my 3 page one!

    Congratulations on getting your synopsis shiny and sending it out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boiling it down to one page is a killer, isn't it? Good luck with that one. We're right behind you!

      Delete
  8. Oh Angelina! glad you're in a rejection free zone right now (hugs!)
    I've been moving the needle forward (never understood where that saying came from, am I supposed to be a Geiger counter or something?) ANYWAY! Applied for a grant from SCBWI with Angelina's inestimable help in writing the synopsis. Am just happy I DID it and not thinking of rejection/not receiving grant. I'm now on the home stretch of my revisions. I understand some things that must change and am falling, ever so slowly, back in love with my ms. By the time it's polished and ready to send to agent, I want to be in a place of passionate love with it again. Fingers crossed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Way to go, Alex! And good luck! Angelina is awesome, isn't she? ((BTW, Ang...you won't recognize my synopsis now. Gave it some good polish!) I know what you mean about falling back in love with your ms. I'm working on that again.

      Delete
  9. Congrats to Tonette, and congrats to Mary Ann for getting that synopsis done. I'll have to go have a good look at those links. I always bog down on a synopsis. I work it to death so it ends up sounding like a grocery list.

    I don't anticipate getting much writing done today -- the last day of visiting family including a trip to the airport -- but will see how much I can accomplish in a quiet hour before bed tonight. Sometimes I surprise myself by how much progress I can make when everyone else is asleep. I hope everyone else has a productive day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now why did that publish under my blog name? Hmm... anyway, it was ME (Carol Garvin)

      Delete
    2. LOL, Carol! Yeah, I lean towards that grocery list thing sometimes too. I don't think I'll get much done today either, but I don't have any kind of excuse like yours. I'm just unmotivated. But I know if I open Scrivener, something will come out...it always does. Enjoy your family!

      Delete
  10. Whoo-hoo! Congrats, Tonette!

    Thanks for these links, Mary Ann. For me, I've decided to take the approach of turning my synopsis into an engaging almost-story of its own, highlighting action and emotion and what drives the characters. To me, it feels like a rockin' synopsis and not just a boring summary. But I'll look at those suggestions, too, before finally sending.

    Hm, I'm sensing a serious Back to the Future theme happening this month. Maybe ... hm, I think I might just have an idea for Monday. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The most difficult thing I found is that some people want very different things out of the synopsis. Like that first link suggests, some do NOT want a marketing piece. Just the facts, ma'am. But others want it to really sound like your story. But how do you do that in 500 words? So I guess it comes down to what stage of the game you are in and what the purpose of that particular synopsis is.

      Seriously...can't wait to see your post on Monday. I'm kinda digging these Back to the Future threads!

      Delete
  11. Hilarious video clip!! And congratulations to you, Mary Anne, for pushing yourself through the synopsis pain. I'm very sure it will help your story in the long run. Nothing fabulous to report here, except tortoise-like progress. For that, I'm secretly doing a happy dance. Words, baby!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I admit I hate synopsis writing. As a matter of fact this reminds me I need to email my writing mentor so she can help me with writing one for the sequel to NO GODDESSES ALLOWED. Need to check out the links posted here.

    Congrats, Tonette!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Awesometastic post, and not because my name's all shiny on the top there. Woo and hoo! Thanks for the prize!

    I'm going to bookmark all those links. Synopsis and Query Letter nightmares are right up there with the one where I think I'm flunking a class when I've already finished with school. It's an odd one, but since the class is usually math-related, I'm not surprised.

    The tots were two heaping handfuls today, but I did more research, outlined, and got some words down in this WIP's continuing saga of 'Will She Get to Type The End?' or WSGtTTE for almost as long. Multiple deadlines/projects/overall craziness makes me feel like my brain's going to turn to mush. Sometimes, I'm left writing on fumes. Sure, there are the odd snippets of writer's gold, but when I read some of my stuff I'm like 'wha-huh?' and not in a good way.

    Anyhoo, I'll probably get more output when everyone's asleep, so 2am, maybe? The white noise of a snoring baby through a monitor helps get those keys a-clackin'.

    Thanks, too for the BTTF goodness. It keeps me motivated. :)


    Tonette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, Tonette!! I remember those crazy, so what if it's 2 am days. I couldn't get to 2:00 pm today! Exhausted! I hope you find a boatload if inspiration tonight! ...and energy!

      Delete
  14. So glad to hear I'm in good company hating those synopsis requests! Between the 35 word pitch, 1 page query, 2 page synopsis and 5 page synopsis I feel like I've written the novel all over again! LOL

    No progress on WIP but I never get any on Thursdays. My critique group meets up and I spend most of the day reading other peoples' work. I love, love, love meeting with my group every week (except in the summer). It energizes me and Fridays are usually awesome writing days. If anyone doesn't have their own group, JOIN one!

    Sounds like most of us had a good day, hope tomorrow is good for all of us. :D Congrats to Tonette!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whew! You have a lot working, girl! Way to go!

      Delete
  15. I was 100% ready for rejection today, but I found out that I made it to the agent round of Pitch Madness and I am *freaking out*. This was my first time entering a contest like this and my head is still spinning. I might not get any requests but the fact that I made it this far is mind-blowing to me not to mention the world's greatest motivator. It's nice to know that people besides me are interested in my humble little book. Aaaaaahhh freaking out.

    Got a bit of writing done today but now that I'm too jazzed to go to sleep, I'm going to do some more. Aaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hmm, my comment didn't post earlier. Alas. Trying again...

    Thanks for the great links, and the great video clip! Work and music rehearsals kept me busy today, but I managed to revise for a while in between things, so that's good. I'm eager to finish this revision, so can't wait for my days off when I can get TOTALLY MADLY OBSESSED with this ms. Cuz if it's up to me, that's how I roll. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a great day, Shari! I have no idea what is up with blogger lately, but I'm glad your post finally came through. Love those days of everlasting obsession! Have fun!

      Delete

Thanks to spammers, this blog is moderated, so don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't appear right away. Thanks for stopping by!