Synopsis

A brief summary, an outline of the plot of a book, play or movie.

What should be in a synopsis?  There are many answers to this, but I have learned that a successful synopsis must have certain key elements.

Exposition (setting, tone, characters and any other facts necessary to understand the story)

Dilemma (conflict)

Climax (turning point/high point of story)

Resolution (concludes the action)

If you cannot write a one or two page synopsis for your story, you need to go back and revisit it.

Below is a website which I found very helpful.  Thank you Writers Digest.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editors-picks/learn-how-to-write-a-synopsis-like-a-pro

Here is the synopsis I am working on for of one of my current cozy mysteries I am going to market as a series.

The conscientious calamity-prone cemetery assistant Melody Shore is back to steal our hearts.

At the Peaceful Rest Cemetery where she works she meets Bob Morrison who has come to make the funeral arrangements for his wife, Denise. Denise was the marketing director for the Greenville Bats, a local professional baseball team that her family owns and manages.

Melody finds out that the “Bats” are in need of a mascot and steps up to the plate deciding that this is the type of second job she needs to increase her income and social status.

After knocking out the rest of her competition in a tryout that no one expected, she is hired and quickly discovers that being a baseball mascot is not as glamourous as she thought.

She must juggle her cemetery position and her blossoming love interest with her detective boyfriend all the while learning her new job.

The costume she is required to wear with its rubber wings, oversized head and large big bird feet are a minor challenge. It is the staff and players she meets and befriends that put her in the right ballpark for murder.

In the end, Melody outplays the murderer and avoids being killed herself.

Hope this post inspires you.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

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One Final Blast of Winter

As Mother Nature blasts the North East with one last blast of cold and snow reminding us all of nature’s power and quiet beauty I stay indoors and sit in front of my computer for hours on end trying to finish the list of resolutions that I made in the New Year before spring and the joy of being outside overtake my every thought.

One resolution I made this year was to finish and market my humorous cozy mystery.  This is a rewarding but daunting task and reminded me of the following quotes which I have heard (author unknown).

Success is no accident.  It is the result of hard work and loving what you do or learning to do.

Hard work pays off in the future.  Laziness pays off now.

Hunter

Everyone has a story.  Now go out and sell yours – Carole Lynn Jones

Because the premise of my blog is to help the beginning writer with tips I have learned and also encourage below is a list of several tips I can offer.

Finish your book before querying.

Write your query letter and synopsis.

The internet can be your friend for searching agents – manuscript wish list – (this is not a place to promote your story, simply a place for agents to list their wishes).

Search the type of book you are promoting before querying.  You do not want to waste an agent’s time who is not currently  accepting your genre.

Follow the submission guidelines.

Be professional.

Keep writing while you wait for your responses.

May everyone who reads my short blog this month find inspiration to complete your long overdue projects.  Back to work.., Happy Writing all!

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Logline / Tagline

Motivated by discussion and information gathered from the wonderful writers in my biweekly critique group I took upon myself the task of writing a logline and a tagline for my current manuscript (short story-mystery).  Below are some tips for what is needed to write a good (great) logline.  I gladly pass it along.

Logline vs. Tagline

Logline – one to two sentence description of a story – example of logline – A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard a grand ship headed on a ill-fated journey at sea (Titanic)

Tagline – under ten words that evoke emotion about a story (used in the film industry as a marketing tool) – example of tagline – For three men the Civil War wasn’t hell. It was practice! (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)

Tips –

  1. You have worked so hard on your manuscript now you need to condense it into one (or two) sentences.  Impossible right.  But if you can’t do this, you can’t pitch your story.  Also, if you can’t do this, it isn’t the logline, it is probably your story which needs work.
  2. The logline needs to provide the interesting elements of your story and make the reader want to read it.  If you can’t pitch your idea in one or two sentences people will lose interest.
  3. A logline must have the following – protagonist, conflict/their goal and stakes.
  4. Don’t use your character’s name (instead tell us something about your character-use adjectives)
  5. Loglines are like poetry – write, revise and get feedback.
  6. Avoid clichés.

My logline – A comedic calamity-filled cemetery assistant takes on the task of solely solving a deceased socialite’s jewelry theft putting herself in jeopardy of becoming the cemetery’s next internment.

My tagline – The right accessory can prevent murder.

I hope this post generates you to write your own loglines and I would love to hear them if you so wish to comment me back.

Happy Writing!

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Tis the Season

Everyone is busy rushing here and there.

All for a day that comes but once a year.

In a society consumed with competition instead of brotherly love.

Remember to stop and give thanks to the one above.

 

During this season, daily writing is worth it in the long run.

Even if it is next year before your manuscript is done.

 

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart – William Wordsworth

You are a better writer today than you were yesterday – unknown

 

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My Writing Journey – A Hobby, A Passion, A New Career

A good friend recently told me not to dwell on yet another rejection of my current manuscript.  She said “It is only a hobby. Not your career.”

If I would have kept a journal of my writing path, it would read something like this:

I am invited to a creative writing class by a close friend.  Thinking I might like this as I always considered myself creative, I agreed.  Remembering how many years ago (before children) I had sent a few manuscripts to several publishing agencies and received good feedback.

The instructor’s first assignment write a short story.

I will write my “Caroleisms” as I like to call them (quotes on life I love to refer to with friends and family)  My favorite – “Don’t be a mashed potato.  Stand up and be a French fry.”

Instead I wrote about my cats.

At the time I did not know the instructor was a cat lover.  This grew a mutual bond.  She and the class loved my story and I loved my newfound aspiration to write and see my name in print.

She introduced me to a wonderful new editor and she and the editor critiqued my work.

The long learning process began.

I read, researched and discovered the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers) and through them found a wonderful children’s critique group from which I have previously spoke of.  I have been told that it takes seven long years on average to break into the world of published writer.  It has been a little over three years and I am at awe by the immense amount of knowledge I have obtained and the wonderful guidance and support I receive.

So, to answer my friends statement – When does your hobby become your passion or your new career.  I don’t know, but I do know this –

When one hour of writing, researching and reading becomes four or five hours or every free minute  – when you cannot get enough information on writing, revising and publishing – you are hooked and it is definitely more than a hobby.

I would love to hear feedback of your writing journey.

Happy Writing.

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My Free Time

In every effort to become a better writer, I spend a good deal of my free time writing.    To make the most of this time, I have implemented several recent changes –

I have devoted a room strictly for writing and like a daily job, have a set schedule.

While writing, I do not deviate from the task at hand to check social media, answer the phone, or take a break to talk to family members.

I have reorganized my stockpile of indispensable materials and keep items that are used every day within easy reach.

I have also learned that to improve my craft I need to spend some free time doing other things I love.  By doing this, I have found that my stories and characters grow and become richer.  Others thoughts and ideas help to reinvent both myself and my stories.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, exercise, attending the theatre (plays) and spending time with family and friends.

How do you spend your free time?

Happy Writing!

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The importance of a GREAT critique group

I am very fortunate to have found a wonderful group of writers who share their stories with me on a biweekly basis.

I have learned many things from these people.

Below are my thoughts on what to look for in a critique group whether it be a group that meets regularly or an online critique group or partner.

Look for people who are not only complementary and voice your strengths in writing, but question you on the purpose of your story, the genre you are writing for and the arcs in your story.  They question your characters and their motivation.

A great writing group motivates you.  They support, gently guide and encourage you.  Their networking sources and experiences (good or bad) are invaluable.

How to critique others is something that is also an invaluable lesson.

Don’t critique unless you are invited to do so

Start with strengths – be objective on weaknesses

Invite questions from them – what do they feel is weak and confusing

Don’t refer to “you” – refer to the piece

Be specific, not vague

Avoid strong negative language – this might be more compelling if. . .

Point out effective words/ill-chosen words, the strongest points/weakest points

Learning to critique takes time – but time is what we all need to become better writers

Happy writing!

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