Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Award Thank You and Synopsis Whining

Posted on Aug 31, 2011 by Lisa Ricard Claro   18 Comments | Posted in award · conference · critiques · scbwi

A huge “Thank you!” to Madeleine at Scribble and Edit for honoring me with the “One to Follow” award. I’m proud to display this. Thank you for thinking of me, Madeleine! I appreciate your generosity.

In addition to fall leaves and cooler temperatures, October brings the wonderful Southern Breeze . . . conference, that is. Southern Breeze is the regional chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) to which I belong, and this year I’m attending the conference in Birmingham, Alabama.

During the course of the conference I will receive a formal, face-to-face manuscript critique. The rules decree 19 printed pages or less, plus a one page synopsis. Formatting the first two chapters of my WIP was no problem. Writing the synopsis was akin to being stripped naked, dunked in honey, and dropped spread-eagle in the middle of a burgeoning fire ant colony. In short, sticky and painful.

Sticky — because while I know where my story is headed, it hasn’t actually arrived. Much will happen between now and the end of the book. Editing, rewriting, brainstorms, and the usual “ah-ha” moments will occur when a writer (okay, this writer) realizes she bought a bus ticket for Sheboygan and somehow landed on the Starship Enterprise. Any synopsis I write before completion of the book is really more of a, you know, suggestion.

Pain — because one page isn’t enough. If the synopsis could waterfall onto a second page, that would be great. Because the genre is paranormal/fantasy, character explanations are required. For instance, if I don’t tell you that the Gircir is a mischievous, morphological creature from the universe Wyyk, you’ll be lost.  But those explanations, no matter how brief, usurp valuable space I would rather use to inform about plot points. Cutting important information to make room for necessary explanation hurts. Ouch.

In the end, I wrote a three page synopsis, then edited with all the finesse of a chimp wielding a machete, chopping out whole scenes like so much jungle foliage until the three reduced to one. I suppose that is part of the challenge — to write an engaging synopsis within limited parameters. My love affair with microfiction came in handy here. Those Monday tales and Friday blurbs are skill building tools that helped me pick and choose my words with care.

It mailed yesterday.  The next time I see those 20 pages they will be marked up by a critiquer’s pen. A scary thing, that. No matter how confident a writer I am, putting my work out there for a stranger to pick apart is daunting. And of course, there is always the niggling fear that the suggestion will be made that my talents might be better suited to something else. To wit:

“You know, Lisa, that Golden Retriever over there can’t stop wagging his tail at you. Have you considered dog walking as a vocation, since this whole writing thing obviously won’t work out?”

Yes, yes, that’s the extreme. (Dear God in heaven, that is the extreme, isn’t it?) And I have to believe that whoever critiques my work will be more diplomatic than that. But I’ve heard stories, you know . . . scary, scary stories about formal, face-to-face critiques. Did you know the whole horror genre actually developed as the result of a formal critique?  (Okay, I’m making that up, but critiques are spooky, buttercup. That’s all I’m saying.)

The truth? Submitting for publication is easy-breezy compared to a formal critique.

So much for my skill with microfiction. Ha! This is one of the longest posts in blog history. If you’ve read this far without your eyes glazing over, thank you.  I don’t always whine. I’m usually a cheerful person. But that synopsis kicked my butt. I’m exhausted and cranky.

I need chocolate. Dark. Godiva. Truffles would be good.

See you for Friday blurbs!
Lisa

18 Responses to "Award Thank You and Synopsis Whining"

  1. Comment by Jules
    August 31, 2011 at 8:00 am  

    Whine on and I'll keep my fingers crossed for very few red-marks on those 20 pages. πŸ™‚Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  2. Comment by Bookie
    August 31, 2011 at 8:10 am  

    Good for you to be out tackling this thing. Just think how far you are down the road, not merely sitting in a lawn chair thinking about writing something. Good luck with the face to face and keep us posted on how it goes!

  3. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    August 31, 2011 at 8:15 am  

    No doubt about it, putting your stuff out there is hard. I mailed mine on Monday and oddly enough, I'm not nervous about it at all. This book means enough to me that I really, really want to know if it stinks. I'm excited to hear the feedback on mine, yours and Cathy's. This is an awesome way to get more bang for our critique buck! That said, I hope you treated yourself to some chocolate. That's never a bad idea.

  4. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    August 31, 2011 at 8:19 am  

    You are so right about the memes resulting in writing tight. I'll bet you receive accolades on your piece and very little red pen markups. You are such a good writer. Waiting is the worst part, isn't it?

  5. Comment by Dorian Susan
    August 31, 2011 at 8:57 am  

    Sending virtual chocolate. When something like this is out of my control and I've done all I can….I just put the positive energy out there. My friend and I joke about that a lot but it doesn't hurt that's for sure. I hope your machete "chimp" style worked well for you.

  6. Comment by Madeleine
    August 31, 2011 at 9:01 am  

    You are welcome Lisa. Good luck with the critique. Yes it is scary isn't it? Finger crossed it all goes well :O)

  7. Comment by Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy
    August 31, 2011 at 10:52 am  

    Hi Lisa,I have the utmost confidence that you will be relieved and pleasantly surprised at how positive the critique will turn out. Your writing is exceptional and that is what they will tell you. Sorry you have had such a hard time with the synopsis, but you pack more into 150 words than anybody I know, so I know the one page will be perfect.I believe in you, and can't wait to read your book!Kathy M.

  8. Comment by Eric 'Bubba' Alder
    August 31, 2011 at 11:46 am  

    Kudos to you, Lisa – and to Madeleine @ "Scribble and Edit" for her impeccable taste!

  9. Comment by Kay L. Davies
    August 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm  

    I know what you mean about the chocolate.I also know you have a right to be nervous about the critique, but, having so often been the person the writer is afraid of, I can honestly say none of it is done with malice aforethought. Editors are sincerely interested in helping the writer produce a better product.One of my dearest friends decided, in mid-life, to go into freelance writing, so she wrote a story intended for one of our local publications, and brought it first to me. I made her promise not to weep, wail, or pull out hair (hers or mine) but I forgot about "oh, you can't change that, it's my favorite part!"I know you're past all that, but I can also feel your trepidation. If you end up as a dog-walker, would you like to walk a Golden Retriever in southeastern Alberta? She's very sweet.All the best β€” KKay, Alberta, CanadaAn Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  10. Comment by Tammy
    August 31, 2011 at 5:13 pm  

    I think you must know you're a writer when the piece takes on a life of its own and when you are forced to cut a lot (and you feel every slash). You are truly a gifted writer no matter what one person says. It will take me a while to recover from that analogy of yours, though. Ouch.

  11. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    August 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm  

    It'll be fine. FINE. Nobody reads the synopsis part, anyway. πŸ™‚

  12. Comment by BECKY
    August 31, 2011 at 9:36 pm  

    So funny you said you were whining, because I read about four blogs today and/or yesterday where the blogger apologized for "whining"! And of course, I didn't consider any of them to be whining! Not to worry!! It will all be wonderful!

  13. Comment by Angela Brown
    September 1, 2011 at 12:19 am  

    Squeee!Ah, I'm sure things will go better than you know. Besides, it could be possible that dog is wagging it's tail at you because it's actually a shifter waiting for the perfect writer to come along and author its tail – I mean – tale.

  14. Comment by Sally
    September 1, 2011 at 12:34 am  

    Best of luck to you. I'll be anxious to read how it all goes. Blessings!

  15. Comment by Karen Lange
    September 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm  

    Congrats on the award! And yes, I'd say you are due for some serious chocolate! πŸ™‚

  16. Comment by Susan Fobes
    September 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm  

    I whined to you so go right ahead and do the same! LOL!

  17. Comment by Katie Gates
    September 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm  

    If your synopsis is as engaging as this post, then the critique should go swimmingly. I agree, though, writing a synopsis on a WIP is bottom-line unrealistic, regardless of length parameters. It would be tempting to reply to the requester, "No, you go first. Describe in detail the next three months of your life."

  18. Comment by Michael G-G
    September 5, 2011 at 11:03 am  

    Late to the party as usual–but I'll toss in my two cents.You are a great writer, Lisa. You are always engaging and funny. I'm sure this comes across in your work and, as you say, microficition and blurbs are honing that talent to "write tight."I was terrified last year when I had a critique, but the guy was complimentary along with the critical and it really boosted my confidence.I'm looking forward to October and your report from the conference.Till then, I'll eat some Godiva in your honor.


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