Justine: Hook, (Log)line, and Sinker…er, Synopsis, pt. 2

justine covington, eight ladies writing, synopsis writingWelcome to Week Two of how to write awesome pitches (’cause conference season is soon upon us!). Last week, I covered how to write a log line. This week, it’s the dreaded synopsis.

As most of you know, a synopsis is a short version of your story, a sort of 10,000 foot view. When agents and editors ask for a partial and a synopsis, they’re looking for two things:

  1. Can this person write (they’ll determine that from the partial), and
  2. Can this person plot (is their story a series of unfortunate events, or is there some smokin’ GMC going on?)

To many people, writing the synopsis is incredibly intimidating. You think about all the great story pieces in your book that you’re sure the agent/editor needs to see. Well, they don’t. Continue reading

Nancy: Serious About Series: Prologue

The original 1980 paperback cover of Roberta Gellis's The English Heiress.

The original 1980 paperback cover of Roberta Gellis’s The English Heiress.

That’s right. I used an 8LW banned word (or it would be, if we kept a banned words list). Prologue. In our McDaniel classes, Jenny instructed, encouraged, and pleaded with us to eschew prologues, because the story should start when the Thing That Changes Everything happens. But since this isn’t a story, I figure I can get away with it as an introduction to my series of posts on series.

The first series I remember reading in childhood was The Little House on the Prairie. The first romance book I read was book 1 of Roberta Gellis’s Heiress series. As soon as I finished it, I was thrilled to find out books 2 and 3 were available, and devoured them. To this day, I’m thrilled when I find a new series to love and often find myself googling impatiently when I’ve gone too long without an installment of one of favorites.

That love doesn’t stop at reading. It extends Continue reading

Jilly: Einstein’s Brain and Other Story Starters

18165523_sWhere do you get your best story ideas? Kat wrote a few days ago about being inspired by Mary Colter, architect and independent woman of the early 20th century. My golden nuggets often come from the news, and maybe it’s the advent of Spring, but I feel as though I’m being bombarded with amazing stuff at the moment. None of it’s romance-related, but I’m not complaining. Anything that keeps the imagination firing must be a good thing, right?

Today I was going to write a useful post about creating a series bible, but then I saw this article on the BBC website and knew I had to share it.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the full thing, the short version is Continue reading

Michaeline: TV Tropes, A Public Service Announcement

Old tile puzzle of a woman and boy feeding swans. ca. 1850?

Telling a story is a matter of getting the pieces to fit together just right. And making sure each piece is doing a job. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Does the jigsaw puzzle metaphor work for you when you are talking about writing? It sure resonates with me. Right now, I’m sitting here with a heap of wood chips, trying to see how they fit together to make a beautiful picture – something that the readers will then take out of the box, and fit together to make their own beautiful picture.

And right now, in the middle of the first draft, the wood chips are pretty rough and misshapen. It’s my job to give them well-defined curves and edges so they fit into one another precisely and with ease. As you know from last week’s post, I’m wrestling with the group of chips that is going to make up one of my plots’ antagonists, Kitty Van Texel, the were-cheetah who wants to marry Bunny’s boss’ son for his money. (Then dump his body on the South African savanna when she’s returned home.)

I’ve defined her as a shapeshifter, which is all well and good, but she needs more definition. Just exactly what is she doing? I searched my memory for role models and prior examples to help me carve her into something sharp and exciting to watch. And, I didn’t do too bad – I found a lot that works for me. But she was still fuzzy. Continue reading

Kat: Story Inspiration

Hopi House Grand Canyon

Hopi House Renovation
Grand Canyon National Park

This past January, I had the pleasure of visiting the Grand Canyon with two other 8Ladies—Kay and Jilly. If you’ve never visited the Canyon or have only visited during the high season, I highly recommend a wintertime visit. Yes, the weather can be risky in January, but the tradeoff is no traffic, parking woes, or mobs of people to elbow aside for a view. There’s also a very different vibe in winter—a quiet feeling of stepping back in time.

The structures scattered around the canyon reinforce the feeling, and while there, I assumed that Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge, Hermit’s Rest, and in particular, The Watchtower at the north end of the park were hundreds of years old, built by some ancient people and abandoned. Here’s where the story gets good. Continue reading

Kay: The Reality—or Not—in Fiction

Wikimedia Commons

Phoebe, the protagonist of my story, is on an unpaid leave from the CIA. During this time off, she gets involved in an unlikely adventure, and the way she handles it helps her to decide if the CIA is the right career choice for her. In a beta read, Nancy pointed out that my character could face serious consequences—even prison—merely for making a phone call that wasn’t over a secure channel. Nancy doesn’t work for the CIA (at least, that’s what she says), but she’s in a position to know.

So I sat down and thought about the limits of realism in my story. If Nancy doesn’t believe my premise, will anybody else? Continue reading

Elizabeth: “The Question Game”

graphic_stonesOnce upon a time, a long time ago, I got my MBA. At the time it was the thing to do for those wishing to move up the corporate ladder. I wasn’t in a big hurry to climb that ladder, but I certainly didn’t want to be left behind, so when my co-workers headed off to get their degrees, I followed right along (especially since my employer was footing the bill).

Much of what I learned during the program has been long forgotten or is out-dated. I can’t remember the last time I needed to calculate exchange rates or net present value for my day job (never), and I’m hardly ever asked for my input on organizational structure (which is a shame, because I’ve got some ideas). What stuck with me all this time though are the things I learned in a class called “Managerial Psychology.” Continue reading