I’m delighted to announce the launch of my online course, Master the Art of the Synopsis. Designed for writers struggling to craft a compelling synopsis, the class divides the process into manageable stages. It expands upon the course I’ve taught for years, both in person and virtually, and adds supplemental materials including a workbook and sample synopses. Students will have lifetime access and be able to work through the units at their own pace.
After spending months–or years–writing a novel, writers often hate having to tackle a synopsis. How do you distill an entire book down to a few pages, or even paragraphs? But don’t let a sense of overwhelm stall your submission process. If you or someone you know needs to polish up those synopsis-writing skills, check out the course today.
Happy Friday! Somehow we’ve reached the end of the month. When did time start moving normally again? I take it as a sign of hope for good things to come. But as we kiss February goodbye, I have some random housekeeping announcements to share before the links.
First, I’m happy to let you all know that I am in the process of prepping an online version of my course on synopsis writing. I’ve offered this before through various venues, but pandemic times call for more availability. The new, updated course will go into greater detail than I could previously due to time constraints, and include handouts. More details to come next week.
Next, to address the state of my inbox (otherwise know as submissions). It’s no secret I am woefully behind. I did virtually no reading of new material over the holidays and came back to a bunch of client projects, which means I’ve not caught up. No, I am not closing to submissions in order to do so. However, I am about ready to switch up what I’m looking for, so I will be closing over the weekend to make that adjustment. I’ll post a revised wish list early next week. As always, please follow submission guidelines! If you’re waiting to hear from me on something, I’m reading as fast as I can. I’ve requested more pages on quite a few queries, which is great, but also means… more to read. So please hang in.
And on that note, I’ll share some fun links and let you all get on with your Friday. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, filled with bookish goodness and inspired writing. Enjoy!
Pandemic Pen Pals. – A lovely little write up of Penpalooza, the pandemic-era pen pal exchange started by New Yorker writer Rachel Syme over social media. Matches are still happening, so head over to penpalooza.com if you’re interested in some old fashioned snail mail. You can check out the #penpalooza tag on Twitter to get a feel for things. There are somewhere in the range of 11,000 people signed up at the moment, from all around the world.
This week I’m focused on the idea that there are stories only you can tell. Writers sometimes struggle to find their unique voice. But often the problem lies in trying to tell a story that has no personal connection.
Last weekend, at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I listened to a number of very different keynote speeches. Tetsuro Shigematsu shared tales of family, of his relationships with his sisters, his father, and how they influenced the stories he told. Amal El-Mohtar spoke of belonging, of the sense memory of scent and how a whiff of something familiar and beloved can draw you into a community. Mary Robinette Kowal spoke about mechanics and voice and that something else that draws you in–or rather her charming puppet did. Liza Palmer talked about being real on the page, and the importance of being real in life first. These writers, and many others over the course of the conference, dug deep into themselves to tap into their stories. They shared personal moments, and in doing so, chose specific details to make the narrative relatable.
When writing fiction, writers dig just as deeply into their psyches to make their stories sing. Every story you write is your own story, whether you mine true-life experiences or let your imagination roam. Find the bits that touch your heart, make you laugh or cry. The choices you make will reveal your unique voice, and will result in stories only you can tell.
This week’s collection of links is something of a hodgepodge, but I hope you will consider them in light of the above. Think about it while reading great books, while working on your current project, while going for a run. Enjoy, and happy writing.
The original synopsis of Harry Potter that J.K. Rowling sent to publishers has been revealed. – A few caveats: Rowling probably sent this (or something similar) to agents, and ultimately her agent sent it to publishers. It’s just the first page, as visible in the new British Library exhibit. Finally, it is definitely the synopsis, not the pitch or query as was declared by BuzzFeed elsewhere. But it gives a great idea of the pacing and level of detail for a synopsis. I’d guess this runs about 2-3 pages total.
Greetings, all! I know it’s been on the quiet side here, with the exception of Friday Links, and I’m attempting to pull myself out of my reading/editing cave to remedy that a bit. I’m kicking off with a few small announcements today. First, we’re heading into conference season, so I’ve updated my Conference and Travel page with my schedule for the next few months. You can check in there to see what conferences I will be participating in, as well as any I’m simply attending. Please feel free to say hello if you’re going to be at one of these! I love meeting you all.
Next up, I’m pleased to announce that I once more will be teaching my webinar through Writer’s Digest – Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct the Ultimate Sales Tool. The course takes place online on June 1st, 2017, at 1pm ET. Please note that if you register ahead, you will receive an email after the live course with a link to a complete replay for your reference, and information on how to submit your synopsis to me for critique. So even if the time is not convenient for you, you might still consider signing up. I have plenty of students who register and take the class after the fact as best suits their schedule and submit their work for critique.
If there is a constant in this career, it’s the sound of authors complaining over the need to write a synopsis of their work. Sadly, this task will remain with you if you continue to write for publication, as there is always another novel to pitch/sell and a strong synopsis is part of your sales kit. So I’m delighted to say I’ll once again be teaching my Writer’s Digest webinar on how to write a synopsis, on Tuesday, August 2nd, 20016, at 1pm ET.
Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis aims to help you break down this often-daunting project and get the job done. Over the course of the 90-minute live webinar, you’ll learn what your synopsis should include, how to coax those details out of your much-longer manuscript, and how to polish them up so you can show off your writing skills even while selling your story. The webinar includes time for Q&A, and after it is over, you’ll have time to apply what you’ve learned, writing or revising a synopsis that you can then send me for critique. Complete details are available at the Writer’s Digest site.
I realize not everyone can make a live webinar in the middle of the day, but keep in mind that attendees receive access to all the materials — audio and visual — for a year after the class date, and only those who register ahead will be able to submit their synopsis for comments. So if you’re struggling with your synopsis and would like some feedback, consider taking the class, even if you won’t be able to join in for the live broadcast. Either way, I hope to see some of you in class!
Long-time readers of this blog know I occasionally teach a course on synopsis writing through the Writer’s Digest webinar series. The course focuses on how to organize your thoughts in order to distill a full-length manuscript or the plot of a work-in-progress into a brief synopsis — either very short, to be used in query letters, or several pages that can be sent to agents or editors who request it or used to sell a project on partial. The live online format means attendees sign into the course and go through it in real time, but they also receive a file of the completed webinar later by email, including both audio and the slide presentation, to review at their leisure. Anyone who registers to take the live course may also submit a single completed synopsis for critique after applying what they learned in class.
Interested in whipping your synopsis into shape? Feel overwhelmed by the task, with no idea where to start? Join me for Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool on Thursday, March 17, 2016, at 1pm ET. Please keep in mind that, even if you can’t attend live, you will receive the complete course and audio by email, and only those who register ahead will be eligible for the critique.
Check out the course description for complete details, including information on system requirements, etc. I hope to see you in class!
It’s back! The last couple of years I’ve been teaching a webinar through Writer’s Digest on how to kick your synopsis into shape, and I am happy to announce that I will be doing so once more.
The synopsis is one of those writerly tools that everyone knows they need, and everyone (seemingly) hates to write. I acknowledge that it can feel ridiculous to try and squeeze the gist of your long and detailed novel into a couple of pages, but that doesn’t mean it is an impossible task. In my 90 minute online class, I discuss the different types of synopses you might need to write, and break down the process to make it less daunting. In addition, anyone who registers for the live class receives a critique of their revised synopsis.
Class takes place Thursday, March 26th, 2015, at 1pm EDT, online. Everyone registered will receive access to the online replay of the event as well as the critique, so even if you can’t make the actual class time, consider registering in advance so you can take advantage of the critique feature.
For complete details, and to register, visit Writer’s Digest. I hope to see you in class!
We crept into March over the weekend, which means we’re one step closer to spring in the northern hemisphere, particularly good news for those places that are neck-deep in snow. But it also means I get to remind you all of March Madness for Writers.
March Madness is a writing challenge I issued a couple of years ago for writers looking to take their work to the next level, whether that means committing to a daily writing practice, being braver with plot development, trying something completely out of your comfort zone, or whatever else springs to mind. Although I’m not planning to post a new version of the challenge here on the blog this month, I do encourage anyone who is interested to check out the original posts. It’s designed to be a four-week challenge, which makes today an excellent day to start, but you can really customize it in whatever way works best for you. The original challenge kicks off here.
And in other news, I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be doing another webinar through Writer’s Digest on how to write a synopsis. For those of you who missed this earlier, it’s a live, online webinar, that includes a copy of the final presentation and audio emailed to participants afterwards, and also a synopsis critique from me. The webinar will take place Thursday, March 26th, 2015, at 1pm ET. For more information and to register, check out the description here.
I posted about this a few weeks ago, but I wanted to repost for anyone who might have missed it or who might be on the fence about whether they want to sign up.
Last year I taught a webinar through Writer’s Digest on how to break down the sometimes daunting task of writing a synopsis, whether you need a short one to serve as a blurb for your query letter or something more substantial to send to an agent or editor on request. It went very well and I still have people query me or come up to me at conferences, mentioning that they took the course and found it helpful. So, I’m happy to say I’ll be teaching the class again, Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool, on Thursday, August 21, 2014, at 1pm ET. Even if you can’t make it live, please keep reading to learn why you might still wish to register.
The class airs live online via a PowerPoint presentation, with me calling in to teach, and everyone attending able to type in questions as we go, which I then answer at the end of the session. The class gets recorded, so attendees receive the presentation with my narration and all the Q&A material afterwards. In addition, the course includes a synopsis critique. Attendees have a couple of weeks following the class to take everything they’ve learned and apply it to writing or revising their own synopsis, which they can then send to me for feedback.
Please note that while you can purchase the course materials after the fact, only writers who register for the live class on August 21st will be eligible for the critique. You don’t need to actually attend live if your schedule conflicts, but you should register ahead anyway if you want a chance to submit your synopsis for some comments. I’m looking forward to helping more people tackle the synopsis hurdle, and I hope a few of you will join me!
I’ve had several people ask me to blog about how to write a synopsis, but the reality is that it is far too complicated a subject to tackle in a blog post. Normally I do an hour-long presentation on the topic for conferences, but I realize not everyone has the time or resources to attend a conference.
So, when Writer’s Digest asked me if I’d be interested in doing a webinar for them as part of their ongoing series, I jumped at the opportunity to offer an in-depth look at synopsis writing that could be made more widely available. Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool will take place on April 25th, 2013, at 1:00pm EDT. No — it’s not free — but it is still far cheaper than attending a writers’ conference. Registration includes attendance to the online session, access to the presentation materials for a year, and a critique of your synopsis (which I hope you will write or revise based on what you learn) following the session.