Check in after the workshop

I've copied this from an email I just sent out to a writing group. Once you get into workshop mode, that kind of babble fest brain, it's hard to stop talking.

The best part of today's synopsis workshop was an exercise I hadn't done before:

1. Ask someone read your synopsis. For God's sake, shut up. Don't say a word to them, just hand it over and let them read in peace.

2. When they're done, ask them, what is this book about? Get that description in a few sentences--one if possible. If they don't get what it's about--the central conflict-- then you'll know you have to work on your synopsis.

3. If they do know what your book is about, yay! Write down what they say, gussy it up, and you've got yourself a hook. That was an experiment we did at the workshop today and it seemed to consistently help a lot of people.

The problem with synopsis writing is we're so intent on being interesting in our writing, we tend not to state the obvious--and the obvious is what the editor wants to see. For once we're supposed to be telling rather than showing.

Why is a good hook important?? Because it's what you put in your query letter.
If you're writing for a smaller publisher, chances are you'll have to produce your own back cover copy and this will help you.
If you're sending to a larger publisher, your story will be read by a lower-level editor and if she likes it, she'll be more likely to pitch it to her boss if you've given her something good to use.

* * *

I had a Check It Off!! chart too. That worked, I think. I threw it away but I think it was something like this:
GMC of protagonists/antagonist(s) clear?
Plot points clear? (including ending)
Core conflict obvious?
Name/contact info/title/genre/word-count on every page? the writing at least a bit engaging?

I wish I knew if the workshop worked as well as it seemed to. The problem with giving workshops to nice people you know is that they'll say "it was great!" when they've really been checking their watches starting at about a half hour ten minutes into it.

Right. Now it's time to stop thinking about sucknopses and to make the pizza. . .


  1. Hope you enjoyed your pizza! Thanks for posting this- it is oh soooo helpful when one won't subject other people to deal with her tantrum riddled tyrant of a toddler so she could go to a meeting.

  2. I'm so sorry I missed the meeting. The snow on top of just not feeling well kept me at home.

    But these blog posts are a great help. I've bookmarked them, plus I'm going back over my own synopsis with your tips in mind.

    Thanks again.

  3. Thanks Kimberly and Rhonda. I'm sorry you guys missed the meeting--I thought it was fun. Of course I didn't bring in a synopsis to be mangled.


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