Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category
Saturday’s NARWA meeting went great, and — as usual — I came away inspired. Our guest speaker, Harlequin American author Cathy McDavid, presented talks on characterization and that bane of many writers’ existence (or at least mine), the synopsis.
I came away with some great tips, along with some worksheets that will likely prove very helpful. Among them:
- One size synopsis does not fit all. Some publishers want a two-page one, others want a five-pager. To meet varying requirements, think of the synopsis as an accordion, expanding and contracting your description of the action.
- When describing the action, you don’t want a chapter-by-chapter play-by-play. Pick six to eight turning points (such as their first kiss, first time to make love) and focus on those.
- Mention more than once why they can’t be together and explain why they fall in love. Don’t forget to include how the hero and heroine have grown and/or changed.
- Make every word count. Use power words (like scarlet instead of red) to evoke a stronger vision. For every sentence, ask, “Can I make this better? Shorter?”
- Try to infuse your synopsis with the same tone as your book.
That last one I struggle with. (Oh, who am I kidding? I struggle with the synopsis from start to finish. If I could get by without ever writing one, I would.) My synopses aren’t even half as funny as the stories themselves.
Well, time to take another look at my synopsis for “Blind Date Bride.” One of the goals I set to finish before our July meeting is to submit at least two queries on “Blind Date Bride.”
The other is to write a query letter/synopsis for “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” I must be a glutton for punishment. 😉
After reading my last blog entry, one of my friends from college messaged me with this bit of inspiration about giving characters reasons to love one another:
Love isn’t only about the hot sex – it’s about friendship. Cuz when the hot sex goes away (old age, car accident, ED), there must still be something there between them.”
Thanks to the part about ED, it cracked me up … but it also rang true.
I think, for the most part, my characters ARE friends first (well, except for Cassie and Dustin. They hate — and annoy — each other at first sight … and even when they’re totally in love, they still want to kill each other).
Brad and Erin start (before my book begins) as reporter-source; Bree and Mike are friends/coworkers (even though she’s supremely hot for his supremely HOT bod).
As for Kari and Damien, they start out as strangers who are trying to become friends (and lovers) despite the fact that they find themselves hitched.
I’m looking forward to my NARWA meeting Saturday (really later today, I guess — I really need to get some sleep). We’re doing synopsis-writing and characterization. The timing couldn’t be better, since I’m at a point where I’m thinking about the synopsis for “Blind Date Bride.”
Over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, my writing blog home away from home, I read a fantastic post the other day. It was all about what editors want from a category romance.
After reading it, I wonder if Brad and Erin’s story is as ready as I thought. I break nearly all of the guidelines:
- Stir internal conflict on EVERY page.
- Minimize secondary characters.
- Let your main characters be active.
- Get them together.
- Keep them together.
- Give them reasons to love each other.
Hmm. I already know the story is a little thin on conflict. For the first several chapters, the main one is Erin thinks she wants Mike to notice her but she’s starting to like Brad, too.
My secondary characters, including Mike, all play what may be too large a role. Not surprising, considering they each have their own story. Brad and Erin’s is the first in a series.
Are they active? I don’t even know how to start thinking about that. That means the answer is probably a big, fat “NO.”
As for getting them together, Brad and Erin don’t have a scene together until page 12 — and that’s after Erin has her first scene with Mike. And keeping them together? Well, they go out on several dates (including an ill-fated trip to Chicago for a concert), but there are plenty of scenes in between with one or the other talking to someone else.
Do I give them reasons to love one another? Well, they’re both good people, and fine upstanding citizens of these United States. And it goes without saying that they’re beautiful (most heroes and heroines are, after all). He likes her sense of humor and honesty; she’s attracted to his body and soul.
Hmm. That may also be a little on the thin side. I’m beginning to wonder if this book will ever sell without yet another overhaul … Ugh. That’s a horrible thought, not least of all because I’m way too invested in these characters. Of all my characters, Erin is most like me (education reporter with no luck in love — all me when I wrote the thing).
On the plus side, I thought of a way to make Meg & Matt’s story, “Beauty and the Ballplayer” more closely adhere to the guidelines I just discovered. I’m going to lop off the first several pages (which I’ve decided are all backstory, despite the fact that I love the first line:
Meg looked at the pregnancy test stick in her hand, hoping like hell she misinterpreted it.
The rest of the first few pages have her thinking about how, at 32, she’s too old to be pregnant and alone, and about how her ex ran off to Vegas to become a professional poker player.
I think I’ll start with her and Matt meeting at the bar instead.
I’ve been trying to catch up on my blog reading, and found Nathan Bransford’s great post on “voice.”
The post and the comments afterward are full of great stuff … but all of it combines to make me wonder if I have a developed “voice.” I’ve always thought I did, but I just might be wrong.
Interesting thought, I guess. Too bad I don’t have time to explore it right now. It’s time to get ready for the “day job” (really an afternoon/evening job).