What’s Up Wednesday

It’s been a week since my last blog post. How unusual. Sorry about that–I guess I’ve been busy. In any case, here we are again with What’s Up Wednesday. I don’t know that I have a whole lot to report despite being too busy to blog, but here goes anyway…

What I’m Reading

CRESS by Marissa Meyer, and I’m really enjoying it. This series doesn’t get old. CRESS is every bit as good as its two predecessors, and there aren’t many series you can say that about. I confess I was a little disappointed when things didn’t work out as planned for our heroes near the beginning, but then I slapped my head. What kind of a story would it be if everything worked out for everyone from the beginning? Of course things were going to go wrong–that’s what makes for an interesting story. I should have known better. So I quit being disappointed and got on with enjoying the story. If you haven’t read this series yet, you really must. My wife’s reading CINDER at the moment, and my 13-year-old daughter has asked that she read it to them during school. Yay!

What I’m Writing

While Team Awesome are busy Beta Reading my novel, I’ve been working on flash fiction for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, and I’ve made a start on The Synopsis. DUH-DUH-DUUUUH! I’ve dreaded writing a synopsis for my novel, which is why I’ve only just started working on it. However, knowing how much I dislike writing synopses, I prepared myself for it while I was making First Reader revisions. I created a spreadsheet with a row for each chapter. In the first column I put the chapter number, in the second a brief description of what happens in that chapter, in the third the start page number, in the fourth the end page number, and finally a column for any revision notes. This spreadsheet has been very helpful to me now, because those chapter descriptions can form the basis of my synopsis. Those of you who are mad-and-crazy plotters probably do something like this already with index cards (or using Scrivener, where you can create digital index cards), but usually before you write your novel. Anyway, if you’re cowering in fear of writing a synopsis, maybe try something like this first so you already have a basic outline when you come to create that dreaded document.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Life. Having lots to do–though this can also be frustrating too, because it seems as if I never get done everything I want to do. But knowing that I never need to twiddle my thumbs and wonder “what now?” can be pretty inspiring, I guess.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Again, I’ve been busy, but not with anything out-of-the-ordinary–at least for me. I’ve started studying for a new Sunday School class I’ll be teaching in a few weeks. For those who are interested, we’re going to be studying the Book of Revelation. I’ll probably post class notes on the blog, as I did when we went through Romans. Aside from this, general life stuff–work, family, etc.

How has your week been? What’s Up Wednesday was created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk; visit their blogs to find out how to participate, and to see who else is joining in the blog hop.


46 Responses to What’s Up Wednesday

  1. It must be so great being able to share good books with your children :D Good for discussions!

    Good luck with that synopsis. Maybe you’ll come up with a foolproof method to share with all of us ;)

    Have a great week, Colin!

    • Actually, my 13-yr-old daughter, who is not the most academically motivated of people, picked up CINDER in B&N one time and got sucked into it. She’s the one who’s most strongly advocating for it being school-time reading, so that’s especially gratifying.

      Thanks, Cole! If I stumble across the quick-and-painless way to write a synopsis, you’ll know because I’ll be very rich. ;)

  2. Oooh, Revelation is my favorite of the Books. :) I definitely sympathize with the mixed frustration and elation of a busy life. Hope you find some time for yourself soon.

    • Thanks, Emma. Since everything I do in some way gives me joy, or at least a sense of satisfaction, the idea of “me time” is not one that bothers me too much.

      Revelation’s going to be fun and very interesting, I think. :)

  3. The synopsis is the worst of all querying requirements. I tried it a few different ways, but not until I found Susan Dennard’s guide, did I feel I got one that could actually be read without wanting to poke out my eyes. If you haven’t checked that out, I highly recommend!

    Have a great week, Colin!

    • I’m sure I’ve read Susan’s guide in the past. I see a couple of other commenters have referenced it, so I’ll have to re-read it to refresh my memory. I still don’t understand why some agents want to see a synopsis. Well, okay, I understand their reason, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

      Thanks, Rebekah!

  4. I’m very impressed with your synopsis organization! Last time I wrote one, I basically just started typing and ended up with lots (and lots) of words. After some chopping, it finally made sense. I guess my synopsis method is like my pantstery first drafts :)

    • Thanks, Jennifer. Oh, I’m sure I’ll still write way too many words, at least to begin with. I’m already wondering how I’ll get even this short summary into 3-5 pages. But that’s how I tend to work anyway: start big and edit like a mad man. :)

  5. I second Rebekah’s recommendation of Susan Dennard’s synopsis guide! I hate writing the things, but using that worksheet makes it bearable!

    I get inspired when I’m busy, even if it’s hard to fit everything in!

    • Like I told Rebekah, I’ll have to re-read Susan’s guide. My spreadsheet is making the process more bearable, but I certainly won’t refuse any further help! :)

  6. Sounds like you’ve got your synopsis under control, Colin. The last time I wrote one, I referred to a post Susan Dennard did and it was incredibly helpful. You might check it out if you haven’t already: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/. But yeah… They’re the worst! Best of luck with yours!

    • Thank you, Katy, for providing the link to Susan’s article! That makes it easier for me to find. :) I don’t know if I’ve got the synopsis under control, but even if I don’t have the leash on its collar, I’ve at least got it caged. ;)

  7. I’m hoping to buy Cinder with my birthday money tomorrow, it sounds really good! Good luck with your synopsis, those are hard to write.

    • I can’t think of a better way to spend your birthday money, Laura. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Be prepared to save up for the rest of the series… :)

  8. I love Cinder/Cress/etc. I’m glad you, and your family, are enjoying it too. Good luck with your synopsis writing. Have a great week!

    • Thanks, Kate. If I can have this synopsis ready to go before I dive into Beta Reader feedback edits, I’ll be a happy camper, that’s for sure! :)

  9. Flash fiction for the A-Z challenge? Awesome!
    Ugh, I hate writing synopsis. The link Katy posted is awesome, though, and really helps.
    Good luck.

    Have a great day!

    • Yes, flash fiction for A-Z. I’m having fun writing the stories, even though I occasionally question my sanity. :) I’m going to re-read Susan’s synopsis guide–I recall it being helpful.

      Thanks! :D

  10. Synopses are horrible. I’m not sure what it is about them that makes it so difficult, especially once the query is written. I’m going to have to get around to writing mine one of these days. Good luck with yours!

    I’m glad CRESS is living up to its predecessors. CINDER is currently staring at me from my bookshelf where it’s been sitting for months. I’ve heard so many great things about it that I’m actually tentative to start. Soon!

    • The main thing I hate about synopses is that you have to tell the whole story of your novel, beginning to end, in a very limited space. In other words, you’re cramming 70-80K words into 5K or less, and doing so in third person. The idea is to give the agent/editor an idea of how the story unfolds and how it ends without having to read the entire manuscript. Why this irks me (and many others) is because the only thing it really demonstrates is your ability to edit. There’s really no room for voice, character development, emotional engagement, or many of the other things that go into crafting compelling stories. It’s like a rough outline sketch of the Mona Lisa–you get the basic idea, but no depth, no sense of atmosphere, nothing to make you stand and stare for hours. My argument is that if an agent or editor is interested enough in my story, s/he should take the time to read the ms. After all, most of what sells a story is *how* it’s told, and you don’t get that from a synopsis.

      You really need to take CINDER down from that bookshelf soon and read it. Seriously, you’ll kick yourself that you left it sitting there so long. :)

  11. I’m so glad you’re enjoying CRESS, though I figured you would. Her books are just so good. I hate having to wait for the next instalment.

    Synopses are the absolute worst thing ever. That said, they can really help you see whether your story even sounds interesting or not. I think the fact that I struggled as much as I did with my synopsis way back was evidence that my story just wasn’t quite right. I suppose I should have paid attention to that. I do something similar to your spreadsheet with my story, but I usually just end up using a table. A spreadsheet would probably be more effective, now that I think about it.

    Have a great week, Colin! And good luck with the synopsis and A to Z post writing!

    • That’s a good point about synopses, Jaime, and I can certainly see the value of that for the writer’s benefit (I would still argue they serve no purpose for an agent). Indeed, I originally created my spreadsheet so I could get an immediate overview of the story, see where the important plot points are, and make sure everything flowed. It was a secondary consideration that it might help with my synopsis, and now I’m really glad I did it.

      Thanks, Jaime! :)

  12. Hello, Colin! Nice to see another A to Z Blogging Challenge participant. Flash fiction stories sounds like a cool theme! I’ll be sure to check it out next month. My theme is The Writer’s Inspiration; I explain what that means the week before the challenge begins. There will be a prize package at the end of the month!! :)

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  13. Good luck with your synopsis. I don’t like writing them mostly because mine end up feeling dry and a sort of play by play. It’s hard to inject voice or interest. Ugh. I don’t even like thinking about them!
    This year in my Sunday School class we’re studying the entire Old Testament. I have to play the piano for the little kids though so I only sometimes get to hear the lessons.

    • Exactly why I don’t like synopses, Melanie! The focus is strictly on plot, and not on how well you write, what your characters are like, dialog, or anything that really makes a novel worth reading. How many stories have we read where the plot sounded interesting, but the story didn’t work because the author, frankly, didn’t do a good job of writing it? I just don’t see the value of a synopsis, especially at the query stage. But sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do… *sigh*

      Leviticus was one of the contenders, but Revelation won out in the end. We really need to do an Old Testament book before too long, though. It took us 3 years to get through Romans, so maybe in a few years… :)

  14. I hate doing the synopsis too :) And i have started sorting out what blog posts I would be doing for the A to Z blogging challenge. I’m still on the fence about wither I am going to do it or not, i guess it depends on wither i get all the posts done before April. I’m doing April boot camp so I don’t want to be organizing blog posts during April.

    Have a great week.

    • Be sure to let me know if you decide to do A-to-Z so I can be sure to keep up with your posts every day, Angel. From past experience I can tell you it’s a good idea to schedule as many of your A-to-Z posts ahead of time as possible. What with checking out other A-to-Z-ers, and responding to comments, you won’t have a lot of time to write articles every day (unless you have nothing else to do with your life!). :)

  15. I hate writing a synopsis. I’m going to have to try it out your way. Your A to Z blogging challenge sounds cool. I think I’m going to do mine on how I research. Well, that’s the plan right now. Have a great weekend!

    • Mine is one approach that works for me. Feel free to steal it if it helps you! Also, check out Susan Dennard’s article–Katy linked to it in her comment above.

      I look forward to checking out your A-to-Z articles, Amy! :)

  16. Your reaction to the start of CRESS made me laugh. I felt the same way, but ended up enjoying the conflicts that Marissa Meyer put her characters through. My son has expressed an interest in reading CINDER, which I think is awesome. A straight up retelling of Cinderella probably wouldn’t grab his attention, but cyborg Cinderella definitely does.

    Synopses aren’t fun, but when I wrote one for my last ms I found it easier than I thought I would. I think the key is to be organized about it, so it sounds like you’re off to a good start! You know, it hadn’t even occurred to me to use the index cards in Scrivener to put together my synopsis. I might have to do it that way this time! Thanks for the suggestion!

    Have a super week!

    • You’re very welcome, Erin! I wonder if synopses scare pantsers more than plotters? I think plotters tend to be more organized and are, therefore, better prepared for writing a synopsis. After all, they already have their outlines, summaries, and index cards, so the thing’s half-written before they’ve even started on the novel! My novel was mostly pantsed, which is why I had to write my summary after the fact (I didn’t know how most of the plot would turn out until the end). In the end, you’re probably right that the better you can organize your work, the easier your synopsis will be to write.

      Thanks! :)

  17. What a fun snapshot into your week. You certainly have a lot going on. Stopping by from a-z and your topic sounds interesting!

  18. I like life being full as well. Being busy beats twiddling the thumbs any day!

  19. That’s a really good idea for how to write a synopsis. I usually sum up each chapter in one or two lines, put them in order, and then figure out a synopsis from that (filling in/taking out what is needed). I don’t dread the synopsis (or query letter) as much as other writers though. I’m a plotter and usually have a draft of either ready pretty early on (though they always require heavy revision in the end). Good luck with your synopsis :)

    • It sounds like you’re already doing what I stumbled upon with my spreadsheet, Kim. Cool! And you may also be confirming the theory I mentioned above to Erin: plotters have an easier time with synopses than pantsers. Either way, whether before or after the fact, it comes down to being able to summarize each chapter/plot point, and crafting that into a short piece of prose. Easy, huh? ;)


  20. I like how you are approaching the dreaded synopsis. I do something like that when I’m plotting out a novel, so I may have to borrow your approach. :)

    And I haven’t read the CINDER/CRESS series but I’ve heard such good things from everyone that I’m going to have to add it to the TBR pile. (which is now taller than me) ;)

    Hope you have an amazing week!

    • Feel free to borrow, steal, whatever helps you out, Kris, though, as you say, it sounds like you’re doing a lot of the work already. (And have you seen a sentence with so many commas before? Clearly I have an excess–go ahead an take some if you run out.)

      Yes, you must read The Lunar Chronicles. Don’t let these books languish on your TBR. Buy and read immediately. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 50 SHADES OF ANYTHING (probably a good idea anyway). Seriously, as soon as you finish CRESS, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to read it. And I don’t give out endorsements like that lightly. :)

      May your week be full of amazing too, Kris! :)

  21. I’m in awe of your spreadsheet skill, haha. That sounds like a great idea. I am not a plotter, so I might have to keep this method in mind. Good luck with your Synopsis!

    RE: Twitter fiction – it can be both! During the festival, I know some people are creating an on-going narrative told through tweets. But I’ve also seen very short fiction, which are entire mini-stories written in 140 characters or less. The handle @veryshortstory does great ones! All the Twitter fiction I’ve tried my hand at have been the Twitter poems, which you’ve seen on the blog. :)

    • Thanks, Krispy! Please feel free to use the method if it helps you. :)

      Maybe after the A-to-Z challenge I’ll try some Twitter fiction. The mini-story in 140 characters appeals to me; that seems the most challenging.

  22. I need to get on the Lunar Chronicles train! Everyone loves it. Good luck on your flash fiction! You’re so good about entering contests and doing that kind of stuff.

    • Thanks, Kris. I enjoy a challenge to my creativity, and flash fiction is perfect for that. If you happen to come across any flash fiction contests/challenges, let me know! :)

      You haven’t read CINDER yet? Yes, you need to fix that… ;)

  23. I loved Cress!! I can’t wait for Winter. Such a great series, and I agree with you, each one is as good as the last.

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