30 Days to Publishing

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Fellows writers! I’ve had many aspiring writers ask me questions about writing. In a nutshell, Ghazi’s got the basics covers. Give this blog post a good read.

Essential tools for writers – http://wp.me/p6UCSg-3M

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (13)

Synopses

The synopsis is a tricky excerpt to write. Unlike the query letter which picks the bones of your story, a synopsis should be exciting, gripping, and fun to read. But first, why are we writing a synopsis in the first place?

That is a very good question, and I’m glad you asked.

Synopsis: a brief summary or general survey of something;  an outline of the plot of a book, movie, or television series.

Agents and editors want to know what the story is about before they take the job on. You can’t deny them this. You want them to be as interested and excited as you are, so give them something to chew on deliciously.

When you write your synopsis, there are two things to keep in mind, plot and emotion, because both are necessary. An agent, publisher, or editor will want to see both. Break your story down into an outline, following this formula:

1 Plot
2 Main character’s arc
  A) Who is he/she?
  B) Describe the forced change which propels your main character
  C) Does he take a leap of faith or remain true to his nature?
  D) Is he better off for his decision?
3 Impact character(s)
  A) When do they appear?
  B) How do they impact or pressure your main character?
  C) Does your main character change the impact character or does your impact character change your main character?
  D) Is the impact character better off?
4 Major relationship between your main character and the impact characters, for example, in my book Clockwork Dreams, this is the relationship between my main character Crissie and the impact character Eric. It is an emotional subplot that builds throughout the story
  A) The beginning of the relationship
  B) The development
  C) The climax
  D)The end result of the relationship
5 Struggles and morals – is there a specific conviction you want to portray your main character going through, one of a mental or emotional nature?
6 Now include the plot points. For a reference, here are the 8 basic plot points
7 Now, put all of your notes together. These are still just an outline, so rearrange them to fall into an orderly pattern, then edit accordingly. You will have notes for the plot and notes for the emotional plot in separate outlines, work them together carefully.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to test the story:

1. Is the story original? You can only rip off Beauty and the Beast so many times.
2. Do you have an interesting main character?
3. Is the subject matter intriguing?
  A) Does the subject matter have a sound plot with satisfying conflict and conclusion?
  B) Does it portray the tone and style you were going for?

Just because you finished your synopsis, does not mean you are done. By no means, now you will enter the editing phase. See lesson (11). What you have now is only an outline after all, so take some time to flesh it out. You will want to carefully edit, draft, and proofread just as you would a novel. Have a friend or a few friends read it for conciseness and flow. Preferably someone who hasn’t read the entire book. You don’t want any pesky unanswered questions popping up.

When you submit your synopsis, many submission forms will have a word count limit. Consider this when filling out your synopsis outline. This is your chance to catch the Big Fish hook, line, and sinker, so keep your synopsis interesting. Show them you are an amazing writer, both in novels and summaries. Don’t submit this synopsis until you are satisfied with it. And good luck. You can do this.

 

With notes from Glen C. Strathy
If you’d like a more in depth look into this lesson, see the blog post in the link above. I found Strathy to be very helpful in this area, and I modeled this lesson after his approach. It’s the most comprehensive take I’ve read to date.

Fanny T Crispin

30 Days to Publishing

Update

They say the best way to learn is to teach. This stands true.

I’m writing to say I won’t be posting chapter 13 of 30 Days to Publishing today. The reason is I am finding it is a much more extensive subject than I had initially realized. I’m researching and practicing it myself to give you a better illustration of the how-to’s.

So while I’m working, if you have any questions up to this point, feel free to ask. I’ll be checking back periodically.

~Fanny T Crispin

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (5.2)

Presuming you are in the Writing part of this lesson or the Editing part, we’re going to take a step back and explore a subject deeper. Yes, this is procrastination, but of the educational sort.

Character 2.0

In this digital age, many exceptional artists have been known to record their art sessions and display them for fans to see the full creation. It is usually sped up, giving you an amazing presentation in a matter of minutes instead of hours and hours and hours. I’ve seen these and they blow my mind every time. It’s like a magic trick; you know how it’s done, but you could never recreate it so it would forever be amazing to you.

Today, I thought I would create something of the like for you to experience the depth of character growth–even when half of the information never even reaches the page.

Clockwork Dreams

In my novel, Clockwork Dreams, I created a race of characters known as ‘witches’. Because I write fantasy, these are not the people going around with voodoo dolls and newts in their stew. In fact, they are not human at all.

Origin
According to history, witches are born out of volcanos. They are quite literally magma creatures formed from limestone and breathing sulfur. Belonging to the infamous Unseelie Court of magic and mythology, witches are predominantly known to be evil or at least malignant creatures.

Appearance
They present themselves in a human form, always female, because like the queen ant of a colony, they follow only one leader–a male warlock. Witches tend to be tall and thin, although there are the occasional rotund versions running around. Because their core is made up of magma, they are literally burning up inside. The more powerful the witch, the hotter the flame, so the skinnier they appear.

Appearance–Notable Qualities
Hair color. Similar to stars and fire which burn different colors according to heat, a witch’s hair will denote power. Most low level witches have ashen or black hair color, however, there are three high power types–known as ‘Mothers’–to be aware of.  A witch with red hair is a low level Mother, born from a cool or dormant volcano, while a yellow haired or blond witch burns hotter and is noticeably more powerful. At the top, of course, is the white haired Mother witch. She comes from an active volcano, is unnaturally tall and extremely slender, as if stretched. They do not have the bony, anorexic look that humans get when we are deprived of sustenance. On the contrary, witches are being fed generously by their blazing internal flames, and so are healthier the hotter they burn.

Abilities/Powers
Witches speak the lost language of magic. Their powers are magic-based shadow, fire, and Black Magic elements. notably:
Fire blasts
Lightning strikes
Smoke screens
‘Cold’ fire–a trickery of flames which feel cold but will burn a human all the same
Shadow manipulation
Flight (without broomsticks, mind you)
Dream manipulation–an ancient art of invading someone’s dreams to uncover secrets. Think “Inception” or “The Last Witch Hunter”.

Abilities/Powers–Notable Qualities
Particularly strong power–or Mother–witches have access to the Underworld and can, at times, call on the evil spirits of old, ones that are still permitted to roam free on Earth.

Personality
Witches are incredibly vain, which makes sense, because their powers make them blaze beautifully; therefore, the stronger the power, the greater the beauty. They are also stuck up snobs, being stronger and superior to many races.

They hate humans, which are considered to be ‘mud men’–born of dust and the Breath of God. Also, because of the opposition against their Underworld king and master–a warlock. Not only this, however, there has been a rivalry between witches and humans since the Fall of Man and the Great Battle of the Heavens.

Agenda/Goal
Their greatest goal has always been in the search of the next warlock. Warlocks are incredibly rare and only one exists at any given time. If no warlock is present on the Earth, they return to their volcanos–but the search is never off.

***

I raised up a few main characters as witches in the story, but I won’t spoil any surprise here. This is just to show you how much thought and consideration went into developing the characters to create a more believable world. I enjoy working with and using nature to grow elements of my stories. It is all well and good to say a witch is a ‘creature’ that has ‘dark magic’ and ‘fights humans’, but what does that tell the reader? Not much, I’m afraid. The more you can develop the foundation of your world, the stronger it will be.

But remember, not all of this needs to go into the story. If you as a writer knows the character, you will subconsciously portray the character with the right tools. Give the readers the facts they need, not a lot of superfluous information. The reader may not see everything, but they will believe it’s there if you do your homework right.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (12)

Wow. We’re almost halfway through this. How are you feeling?

Me, too. Let’s get to work.

Query Letters

According to Wiki, a query letter is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents and sometimes publishing houses or companies. Writers write query letters to propose writing ideas.

Seems simple enough. Basically, you are writing a letter to entice someone to take on your project. Let’s see what that looks like in detail. You have a book, an article, and you want someone to endorse it. We will talk about where to find these people later (editors, agents, publishers), but first we need to learn how to talk to these people.

BASIC FORMAT OF A QUERY LETTER:
The topic of the work
A short description of the plot
A short bio of the author
The target audience

Go back to your days in school and put work into the format of a letter, even if it’s only an email. You want to sound educated, polite, and respectable. These people are running a business, and you should treat it as such as well.

Date
April 10th, 2015

Header
John Doe Smith
Smith & Smith Editors
123 Main St
http://www.editors@website.com

Salutation/Greeting
Dear John Smith,

Body
This is where you fill in the introduction, the hook, and the description of your book. We’ll look at that later.

Conclusion
Finish with your intent or goal of the book.

Closing
Cordially yours, Sincerely, Thank you for your time, etc.

Signature
Fanny T Crispin

BODY OF A QUERY LETTER:
In the body of your query letter, you want to be short but concise. First, introduce your work. Make it gripping and exciting. Ask a friend to read the introduction and judge it for you. Keep it short. These people are busy and their time is very valuable.

E.g. ‘Fire Blood’ is a curse upon mankind, and it has trickled down the bloodline to the 21st century. All her life, Jane Smith has known of the curse, but now it’s raging out of her control. When she is discovered by one of her coworkers, he urges her to uncover the source of the curse. With his help, they set out to hunt down the last of a dying breed–a dragon.

One paragraph with an enticing hook. Follow with another paragraph describing your work.

E.g. ‘Fire Blood’ is a Young Adult urban fantasy. It is 80,000 words in length and a fully completed manuscript.

Follow up with a description of your writing career, your style and genre. Again, short and to the point. A professional is just someone with a title who gets paid for it. You already have your title…

Say it, ‘I am a writer.’

…And if you work hard, you will get paid for it, too. Dream big.

You should only have three paragraphs. If the editor or agent wants you to attach a sample of your work, read their instructions carefully. Following instructions earns you brownie points.

*Now, I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will. Don’t copy and paste my examples. One, because they could be written so much better. Two, because you want your unique voice to come through the email or letter. Three, because it’s just not classy. Stay classy, friends. There’s a shortage of classy in America.

This was a difficult blog for me to write, because I freaking dislike query letters. You know what I dislike more?

Synopses. Guess what we’re studying next. Synopses.

See you tomorrow.