musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

December 26, 2005

Write a powerful synopsis

Writing takes courage. Submitting work is in many ways the most courageous act a writer commits. I don’t know of any aspiring novelist who looks forward to the task of synopsizing his or her own novel and then waiting around for rejection after rejection.

The synopsis itself is often a major hurdle. If a story could be rendered in that short a form, you’d have written a short story instead of a novel, right? I’d rather have a tooth extracted than attempt to synopsize mine. In fact I’m in danger of running out of teeth before I find the right agent, because of my personal loathing for synopsis. Still, it’s necessary to get the idea across in a form agents can absorb and understand quickly on their way through a gazillion other queries. A good, crisp synopsis makes an agent eager to read the entire manuscript.

Can one learn this skill by example? By reading examples, along with an agent’s reasons why they’re good or not? More likely example and practice are necessary. But examples sure help. So put on your synopsis-writing cap and read through the recent series of “Crapometer” posts at Miss Snark, the literary agent. Thanks to Miss Snark for her time sharing her insider views, and thanks to the writers who braved the Crapometer’s challenge.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:33 pm PST, 12/26/05

September 20, 2005

Thunder, lightning and blazing palm trees

Late yesterday afternoon, I read a severe weather alert about possible thunderstorms. I looked out the window, and wondered what the weather people were seeing that I wasn’t. The sky was nearly clear. Maybe half an hour to an hour later, a bright flash outside the window over my writing desk signaled the beginning of the day’s first thunderstorm. I reached up to open the blinds, and the crash came—close and deafening. That storm lasted several minutes. Then it was over. That was exciting, I thought. I relaxed back into writing.

Later in the evening the lightning and thunder started up again, rumbling in the distance for a few hours, and every now and then moving closer. First it was west of us, then east of us. Now it was on the other side again. There was very little rain, and I knew that wasn’t good. It was the same weather pattern that had ignited palm trees down the hill from us about five years ago.

After midnight, we were still awake, not because of the storm but because those are the hours we keep. We’d just turned off the television and were starting to wind down when the lightning moved in close again. Then came a blinding, deafening flash and crash, so close I let out an involuntary yelp and the dog jumped to his feet.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:18 pm PST, 09/20/05

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