Friday, February 27, 2009

A Bevy of Links (or 3)...

It’s a busy weekend here. No, I’m not in some warm, southern State sipping beer and enjoying a well deserved holiday (waves to Jana). I’m heading into the city to pick up my new glasses, overnight with my mom, then drive to another city to participate in the monthly meeting of the SRW. I won’t be able to chat with you until Saturday night, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to give you some links.

First up – Plotters versus Pantsers. I am a pantser. The story usually plays like a movie in my head and my job is to get it down on paper. Sometimes, Muse gets ahead of me and creates a wonderful scene that I then have to write toward. It resembles playing those maze puzzles. Your pen traces the path that you know will get you to the little opening on the other side of the page that’s marked "The End". Then, you make a turn and WHAM you’re stuck. No way out. So you back up, or worse, start over again. This time you won’t make the same mistake, you just weren’t concentrating. But suddenly, you’re in another dead end. If you do this more than twice, well, let’s just say there’s no way in hell you’re going to finish that maze. Pen down; find something else to do (ooh, Suduko).

So, I was very happy to see one of my favorite blogs dedicating the month of February to plotting. Writer Unboxed has a ton of information about getting from Point A (Once upon a time…) to Point B (and they lived happily ever after). Go check it out – I’m sure you’ll come away with something new whether you’re a pantser or a plotter.

Next up – everyone knows that I’ve been editing (revising) Lady Bells. I stripped a huge chunk from the manuscript including adjectives, adverbs, and back-story. Last week I did some critiquing for writing friends. Then, in chat on RWA Online, I had a very in-depth discussion about MS Word’s comment/tracking feature. A couple of years ago I had never even heard of the feature, now it’s my best friend when I critique or when I need to make notes on my own WIP while I’m working (I never have to go looking for paper notes). So, I was thrilled to find a blog called The Blood-Red Pencil. Not only do they discuss editing, but they also have a great archive with MS Word hints and suggestions, including a ‘how to’ post on using the comments/tracking feature. (Hint: Type in MS Word or Word Processing Shortcuts in the search box)

And last, but not least, I want to talk about synopsis – the dreaded 1, 2, 5, or 10-page summary of a 100,000 word novel. Every agent has a suggested length, which is why I’ve included 4 versions in the previous sentence. I have struggled with this almost as much as the query letter. When you read about authors or writers railing against synopsis you get the impression they don’t like writing them. And now that I’ve tried to write one, I agree whole-heartedly. Synopsis writing is not fun. But it must be done. Most agents when requesting a partial will request a synopsis. There are no options.

My synopsis stinks. But it’s a lot better than the first four I wrote and if it’s anything like the query letter, it will take another dozen or so re-writes for me to feel completely satisfied with it. But unlike the query letter where there is a ton of information on the net about how to write queries, examples of queries that have garnered agents’ attention, and sites where you can send in your query for comments and suggestions, synopsis’ help is a little harder to come by. Until now. Query Tracker (the blog) has information on how to write a fabulous synopsis. You’ll have to search for the postings, but it will be well worth the time digging through their archives. And while you’re there, I suggest you read some of the other posts (including yesterday’s fabulous post on manuscript formatting). A wealth of information for writers at all stages of their careers.

So, People of Blogland, I hope you get a chance to check out these sites. Please feel free to suggest other great sites that help you in your writing (I’m always open to new websites). Or maybe share with us your views on MS Word’s features – do you use them, are they helpful? And I would love to hear about your synopsis woes/triumphs. Go ahead – talk amongst yourselves. I’ll check in tomorrow night.

Janet (Did you know that bevy also refers to a group of roe deer? Check out this link.)


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Seriously Janet, your last link there was the best. I've been thinking to myself lately "I've got to find a big collected list of proper terms for animal groups"... partly because I like how interesting they are, and partly for accuracy's sake. We can't call everything a plethora can we? :)

I haven't officially tried synopsis writing, but I've done some fiddling with pitch/synopses at times to help reinforce the key moments I'm moving through in the book. Despite everything I hear from other authors, I'm going to try to go into the process optimistic.

Janet C. said...

Hey, just leaving town and decided to check here - great to *see* you, Hayley. Yeah, it's a great link. I bookmarked it for those trivia arguments The Husband and I get into. And I think it will be a good resource at some point. Usually, I forget to bookmark things and then spend hours trying to find it or remember what words I typed into Google to come up with that website.

Hope to see you tomorrow at the meeting.


Karen said...

Hi Janet,
I visit Writer Unboxed regularly and always find the information helpful.

I'm quite intrigued by The Blood Red Pencil blog. I need to spend more time learning the MS 'comment' stuff.

I'm scared to look at the query/synopsis stuff.

Hopefully see you tomorrow.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Janet, I really liked your post and I agree with Hayley - I like the last link best. :)

Karen, yes, you will be at the mtg tomorrow if I have anything to do with it. I emailed you this am... didn't you get it?

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
I like the agent blogs. Someday, when I'm looking for an agent, they'll come in very handy. Enjoy your meeting tommorow and say hi to everybody for me.


Suse said...

Hey Janet, as always, you provide interesting links. Thanks. I especially liked The Blood Red Pencil.

Janet C. said...

Thanks for commenting, Chicks. And I'm glad you enjoyed the links.