Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’
Again, I say, just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking.
No, I’ve been busy. I had to trim a five-page synopsis to a single page for the Harlequin American Editor Pitch contest. (Amazing what becomes important and what you suddenly realize can be left out when you have to tell the story in one tiny page.) The deadline was Monday and I shipped it off late Sunday night — or early Monday morning, depending on where you live.
We had our NARWA board meeting last Friday, then plot group on Saturday. As usual, plot group was inspiring. Of course, I had to head to to day job when it was over, so I lost that charge of momentum our meetings always provide.
After work Saturday night, I stayed up reading through Bree & Mike’s story until daylight started to seep through the blinds. (Then I slept until 3:30 p.m. Sunday, so I didn’t get to put in any writing time at BN before heading to work.)
When Monday rolled around, it hit me: The NARWA newsletter had to be done. So I stayed up into the wee hours putting it together, suddenly thankful the only Diet Dr Pepper in the office vending machine was super-sized. (This was about an hour after I used my Facebook status to complain that no one needed 20 ounces of caffeine at 9 p.m.)
So even though I haven’t been doing much blogging, I’ve been a busy little writer. Today, I finished a rough draft of a query letter for “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” I also spent some time tweaking the beginning — yes, I finally settled on ditching my opening line in favor of putting Meg and Matt in the same room on Page 1.
Now that I’ve brought you up to date, I’m going to get back to Meg & Matt. After I whacked out the first two scenes, it suddenly became 500 words too short to be an American Romance. That must be fixed.
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. 😉
I was out on a walk Saturday morning, listening to my iPod, when a song by my favorite band came on and it hit me: This could be Mike James’ theme song.
Mike, you might remember, is the hero in Bree & Mike’s story (the one with the crappy title). He’s the one who wants everyone to think he’s a playboy so he can avoid romantic entanglements with nice girls like my heroine … the one who doesn’t think he deserves a nice girl to love and love him.
The song that seemed to fit him to a T is Depeche Mode’s “Wrong.”
I reached the wrong ends by the wrong means
It was the wrong plan
In the wrong hands
The wrong theory for the wrong man
The wrong eyes on the wrong prize
The wrong questions with the wrong replies …
I was marching to the wrong drum
With the wrong scum
Pissing out the wrong energy
Using all the wrong lines
And the wrong signs
With the wrong intensity
When it comes to Mike, all true. Well, he does say the right things (at least the right things for an outrageous flirt), but for the wrong reasons.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Depeche Mode has been my favorite group since high school, and I often find ways to apply their lyrics to life. In college, I quoted “New Dress” (about how changing a vote can change the world) in some political science paper.
Now I’m wondering if this makes Mike more of an anti-hero. Oh, he’s definitely not as dark as Gareth, the alcoholic since age 14 who’s trying to escape his abusive father by taking refuge with my almost-as-messed-up heroine.
But Mike at least fancies himself a “bad boy,” courtesy of his past.
I love this story. I hope I can find someone who likes it as much as I do.
I recently discovered the blog of Nathan Bransford — Literary Agent. He’s both witty and wise … and rumor has it that he responds almost immediately to queries, whether he wants to see more or not. I’ve yet to test that myself because I haven’t quite perfected my query for “Blind Date Bride” and he doesn’t do category romance.
Anyway, after reading his latest entry, “The Greatest Strength of a Writer: Willpower,” I was inspired.
The last line, in particular, spoke to me:
If writing is always fun, you may be doing it wrong.
So simple, yet so true. For years, I’ve been one of those “I write when the muse inspires me” people. As a result, I haven’t gotten much done. Several partial MSs lurk in my computer files — all about half finished.
Now that I’ve committed to writing more regularly, first preparing my Golden Heart entry, then in the NaNoWrimo and now through our NARWA Word Count Club, I’m accomplishing a lot more.
- I entered a revised version of my very first MS (Operation Snag Mike Brad” in the Golden Heart, didn’t final and just found out my scores were solidly mediocre.
- I wrote about 25K of the 40K I wanted to get done during the NaNo, finishing the complete MS in early December. I’ve done some revisions and just shipped off the first 55 pages to the Orange Rose contest. (Blind Date Bride)
- I finished the first draft of another category-length MS. (Beauty and the Ballplayer)
- I’m almost done revising and expanding the second story in my “Women of Willow’s Grove” series. It was about 10K too short for category romance … now it’s just about right. (It’s tentatively titled “Daring to Love,” but I’m thinking it needs a new title.) Next up: fixing all the head-hopping in the third book in the series, “To Catch a Wife,” and expanding it. (It’s also about 10K too short for category.)
- I’ve started querying on my GH entry (receiving about 5 e-rejections in response to my e-queries). I also just finished a query and synopsis for “Blind Date Bride,” but haven’t started querying yet because I’m not sure it’s ready.
Whew! That’s a lot of work in the last seven or so months. And I owe it all to commitment. Sometimes I even sit down to write when I’d rather be doing something else.
OK, that’s rare. These days, I don’t want to do anything else. Our NARWA guest speaker back in January, Jennifer Ashley, lit a motivational fire under my behind when she said, “Treat writing like your day job and it will become your day job.” (You can read my post-meeting blog post here.)
Tomorrow is a day off from work. I’m planning to get in some more quality writing time … after I sneak in a workout. I’ve been neglecting my health/fitness goals lately and need to get back on track.
That whole “butt in chair” thing works in a healthy lifestyle, too — except it might better be phrased as “feet on pavement” or “butt in gym.” The point is, you have to do it regularly to get good results.