jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Plot Synopses:

Here are some thoughts on how to write plot synopses from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a plot synopsis project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Chaz Brenchley: http://desperance.livejournal.com/254192.html (Originally posted 3/17/2008)
S.C. Butler: http://scbutler.livejournal.com/23177.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
David B. Coe: http://davidbcoe.livejournal.com/29443.html (Originally popsted 3/18/2008)
Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/how-i-write-a-book-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jennifer Dunne: http://jennifer-dunne.livejournal.com/244403.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
S.L. Farrell/Stephen Leigh: http://sleigh.livejournal.com/187253.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Gregory Frost: http://frostokovich.livejournal.com/19384.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Jim C. Hines: http://jimhines.livejournal.com/355241.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/pitching-a-novel-nailing-your-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Kay Kenyon: http://www.kaykenyon.com/2017/09/21/writing-a-novel-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/03/18/the-plot-synopsis-project/#more-178 (Originally posted 3/8/2008)
Mindy Klasky: http://mindyklasky.livejournal.com/135970.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Misty Massey: http://madkestrel.livejournal.com/64716.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/synopses-a-lengthy-discourse-on-a-pithy-topic/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/21/2017)
C.E. Murphy: http://mizkit.livejournal.com/339428.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Naomi Novik: http://naominovik.livejournal.com/34610.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493561.html (Added 9/21/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=104 (Added 9/23/2017)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/15208.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Michelle Sagara West: http://msagara.livejournal.com/37498.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)


And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Query Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493069.html.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Plot Synopses

First off, there are two types of plot synopses: the one written AFTER the novel is finished, and the one written BEFORE the novel is finished, both used to send to the agent or editor in the hopes they’ll buy the novel. I’ll start with the one written AFTER the novel is finished, since this is typically what happens for a writer who has yet to be published.

Writing a Synopsis AFTER the Book is Finished )

In any case, here’s my sample plot synopsis, for the first book in my Throne of Amenkor series, published by DAW Books, called The Skewed Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Keep in mind that if you haven’t read the book, this synopsis will reveal all of the major plot twists and turning points in the novel, so spoilerage is possible. Well, not possible. Spoilerage is DEFINITE. I think you’d still find the book enjoyable even after reading this though. In fact, it might be an interesting exercise to read both the synopsis and the book itself so you can compare them and see what I put in the synopsis and, more importantly, what I left out. You certainly can't put everything in the book in the synopsis.

After the sample, I discuss writing a plot synopsis BEFORE the book has been written.

************************

Skewed Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilery if you haven’t read the book) )

***********************************

Ok, that’s what the beast looks like if the book has already been written. However, once you’ve been published, the agent or editor is more willing to work with a book that hasn’t been written yet. At this stage, they’ll likely demand a plot synopsis, and sometimes they’ll want a plot synopsis and the first few chapters (even if the rest hasn’t been written). I find this a much MUCH harder beast to tame, because of the way that I write.

Writing a Synopsis BEFORE the Book is Written )

So here’s my sample of a synopsis written BEFORE the novel was written. It's from the second book in the Throne of Amenkor series, called The Cracked Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Again, if you read this, it WILL spoiler the book. (But also again, it might be good to read the synopsis AND the book so you can see what was included and not included . . . and also what I thought would happen and what actually happened.) You’ll notice some differences. I didn’t capitalize the characters names when they first appeared in this one, for example. Some editors/agents like them to be capped, some not. You should always read and follow the guidelines for the publishing house or agency where you’re submitting in order to see what kinds of rules they like you to follow. You’ll also notice that the synopsis doesn’t read as smoothly as the previous one; that’s because the novel wasn’t written and I was flailing around in the dark while writing it. And for those that have read the book already, you’ll notice that the final version of the book had some serious changes (the part about Erick and Baill leaps to mind). The end product didn’t follow this synopsis exactly. Editors and agents know this might happen, and they generally accept it.

**********************

Cracked Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilerage ahoy!) )

******************

So that’s my take on writing plot synopses and a few examples to give you guys something to work from. Hopefully you found some helpful advice in there. But my way isn’t always the best, and doesn’t always work for everyone, so take the time to read some of the other authors’ posts about their process and see some of their examples. I think what you’ll find is that there isn’t one set way to do these things, and there’s not one set road to publication. Some include synopses and some don’t. Some synopses are 1 page long (if that) and some are 10 or more. It depends on the editor’s and/or agent’s preferences.

And keep in mind that you can have the perfect synopsis but if the STORY ITSELF SUCKS, it won’t help. You have to have a good story to tell. And if the story is good, most editors and agents will cut you some slack if your plot synopsis isn’t perfect.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Every writer knows that a query letter and plot synopsis accompany the partial manuscript sent to most agents and editors to see if they're interested in a project. But there aren't many resources out there for how to write such things (more now than before). Ages and ages ago, I ran a few projects to help new writers with these unwieldy beasts, called the Query Project and Plot Synopsis Projects I and II. Those links got lost when I abandoned LiveJournal and created this new account at DreamWidth. So, here are links to my posts in those projects, now here on DreamWidth. There are also links to other participants in the projects at that time, although many of those links are probably now broken. In any case, it might be a resource if you're trying to write a query letter or plot synopsis for your book. Check it out.

I'm considering doing another such project or two, perhaps another Query Letter Project, another Plot Synopsis Project, and an Elevator Pitch Project? Hmm. Must consider. Let me know if you think another round of these projects would be helpful.

Query Project: Click Here
Plot Synopsis I Project: Click Here
Plot Synopsis II Project: Click Here

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