Award Thank You and Synopsis Whining
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!