Nancy: In Praise of the Brief Synopsis (and How to Write Yours)

Tell me your story...in a few words.

Tell me your story…in a few words.

For most of us writers, there comes a time in our lives when we have to face the music, pull up our big-person pants, and take on a terrible task: writing a brief synopsis of our work. This is not to be confused with the long synopsis (5-10 single-spaced pages). This is the brief synopsis. One to two single-spaced pages. About 500-1,000 words. In which to summarize your 100,00-word work of genius. Yikes.

Today I’m going to discuss how to make the brief synopsis your friend. Okay, friend might be a bit strong. But it’s quite possible it’s going to be a necessary evil at some point in your writing life, if you plan to submit work to agents or editors, or to enter your work in contests. So I’ll share some ‘synopsis hacks’ that can make the process less painful, and possibly even worthwhile. I’m even going to suggest Continue reading

Jilly: Inspired by Goodman

Inspired by GoodmanIt’s been a trying few days chez Jilly. We just completed week three of our home redecoration program, and while our builders couldn’t be more charming or hard-working, a serious problem outside their control meant they had to switch to twelve-hour days, so they’ve been arriving before 8 a.m. and leaving after 8 p.m. After ten days of not sleeping in our own bed, we’ve had a week without a functioning bathroom, and despite carefully taped plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling, everything – everything – that’s not boxed up and stored away is covered with a layer of fine dust. I have to do a major cleaning job each morning before I can put my contact lenses in.

I’ve been trying to write through the disruption, not with any great degree of success. Finally yesterday, as the team left for a well-earned day off and I sat cursing various abandoned attempts at a half-decent blog post, my husband said “Stuff it. Let’s go to Goodman.”

Four hours later Continue reading

Michaeline: And They Behaved Like Perfect Animals

Woman caressing a cat, and the cat caressing her back.

“Oh, my darling one!” via Wikimedia Commons

Human behavior is old.  I mean, really old.  I mean, really, really old. Many of the things we do as people are actually older than humanity itself.

My day job is teaching in elementary and junior high, and I used to be quite worried about the scenes of aggression I’d see in the hall during breaks. Usually they involved boys, usually pinning each other to the floor, or goosing each other repetitively. I grew up in a two-girl household, and tried to avoid those rambunctious boys during my childhood, so it really bothered me.

And then we got puppies. Continue reading

Kat: Name Calling

Hello_my_name_is_sticker_svgA few weeks back, Michaeline and Justine did excellent back-to-back posts on the importance of choosing the right character name. Today, I want to talk about the names that characters choose for other characters on the page. Whether a pet or nickname, what our characters call one another has the potential to advance the plot, define a character, or show character arc.

As an example: I had a beloved aunt who used to refer to her husband by his last name when she was around our family. It was always done with a tone of affectionate humor, like a pet name. If anyone else had done this, I would have thought it odd, but given my aunt’s personality, it seemed like a natural thing for her to do. By using her husband’s last name when referring to him, she seemed to be saying, yes, I love my husband and I’ve taken his name in marriage, but he does not own me. To me, it was a declaration of independence.  Continue reading

Special Announcement: An Eight Lady is a Golden Heart Finalist!

Jeanne Estridge clean smallerThe Eight Ladies are proud to announce that Jeanne Estridge, an Eight Lady and fellow student at McDaniel College’s Romance Writing program, is a finalist in RWA’s 2015 Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers with her paranormal “Demon’s Wager.”

The winner will be announced at the RWA Nationals awards ceremony in NYC on July 25th.

Congratulations, Jeanne, and good luck!

Michille: Critiques of Antigone Rising

candle holderMaybe this post should be titled The Importance of Critiques. Or the Usefulness of Critiques. Or What I’m Getting Out of the Critiques.

I posted my first draft of Antigone Rising for the Eight Ladies (those with the time and the inclination) to read and critique. I am extremely grateful to those who read it because it had to be annoying to read an incomplete story that had only gone through one quick pass of edits. I hadn’t even done my search and destroy edit looking for the words just, was, very, and quite (I use those excessively). What they read was the 35k-word Antigone Rising: MLA Project which is a different kettle of fish from the 100k-word Antigone Rising: The Complete Story that will come after I finish this sucker and graduate. You can imagine the size of the plot holes created with 65,000 words missing. You could drive a semi through them. I’ve never had a full manuscript critiqued before – only scenes. I am finding the critiques amazingly helpful. Continue reading