Making choices

Having been traumatized by the whole publishing process in the past — traumatized enough to not have really done more than put a toe in the water — I'm trying to approach things this time around with a sense of rational organization.

Nevertheless, part of me is running around the house, hands flailing in the air, screaming.

I have decided to persevere.

Fortunately, at this stage things have a way of making a bit of sense. It reminds me of the first time I had to explicate a poem, in 12th grade. I was never much on the poetry part of things, and trying to figure out what they were trying to say generally annoyed me. But when we explicated, we had to take each line, each word on its own merits and research possible meanings. By and by, the whole picture formed and although it was far from feeling the earth move, I usually understood the poem by the end of the assignment.

This is a bit like that.

I'm researching in books and on the internet, trying to get a good sense of what goes into a synopsis, and what goes into a cover letter, and what goes into a query letter. I've found a competition which requires a synopsis, and I believe I will submit to them first: They're looking for thrillers and mysteries and suspense-romance and mine falls into at least two of those categories. I think I like them and it's a good starter place. But they require a synopsis of no more than two pages, double spaced, 1" margins. That comes out to about 1400 words.


I did, however, find a site that walks you through the synopsis part. It suggests you go through each chapter and summarize each section. Come up with common themes. And when you've gone through the whole book and summarized each section, much will be revealed that perhaps was not evident before.

I'm about 1/3 through the book, and we've got over 3000 words. It's going to be a long paring down process. But what I am discovering is this: I rather like doing it, and I feel good about what I've written, still. And I'm starting to be able to take those two steps back from the actual story and write about it the an arm's length that will be needed, I think, to send it out on its own shortly. This is new for me. And I think, eventually, it will help.

By the way, did you know today is Blue Monday? And here all along I thought it was a New Order song.

* * * * * *

It is also Blog for Choice Day. Thanks for the reminder, Poptart!

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

This year, you're meant to simply say why you're pro-choice, and my answer is much the same as Poptart's — namely, that no one and no group should be permitted to tell you what you can and can't do with your own body. No one except you, personally. And the key word is choice.

Choose choice.


  1. R.G. Ryan on 1/24/07 at 1:51 pm

    Publisher-induced trauma, huh? Well, step right into the ward, little missy, and join the rest of us poor mokes. 🙂

    The first synopsis I wrote (1200 words on the nose) took me twice as long to fashion as the 428 page novel it purported to describe. And the query letter? Dear Lord…I hate the foul beasties. Mainly because I blatantly suck at their composition.

    I’m sure you know this, but approaching a publisher “unagented” is virtually impossible these days. If you find a way around that, you’re golden.

    A helpful hint: go to Barnes & Noble and spend a couple of hours reading dust covers. It’s a wonderful lesson in synopsis. In fact, if you want to really challenge yourself, bust your story down into a 400 character (not words, characters) logline, like on a movie poster. I’ve been told if you cannot explain your story in once sentence, you don’t know your story.

  2. Mathilde on 2/11/07 at 6:55 pm

    I’m sorry, publishers make my erstwhile ginormous literary penis shrivel in fear. I DO however find that agents are a little more forgiving. But not by much.

    But since I’m a consultant, I GET agents. I simply DON’T get publishers. I just don’t and I could write a book about the things I wonder about them.

    Namely the soulless part.