Essays

Light at the End of the Tunnel

light

Well, it’s done. The last scene needed to complete the manuscript for book three of my Papilion Trilogy, Berserker, is done. All that’s left to do it to blend the snippets into the main story, to diligently consider the beta readers’ feedback I received (some of which is still on the way), and then hit the last rounds of editing.

I won’t lie. I felt like giving up. This has been the toughest year in writing yet, and there were more than a few periods when I felt like walking away. It’s tough to be a writer, tougher when resources are financially out of reach, when human resources are scarce (reviewers, beta readers), and when Life keeps getting in the way. Discouragement and lack of motivation were constant enemies; we wrestled a lot.

When I started The Purple Morrow four years ago or so, I had one book in mind. I purposely wrote a simple story, being that it had a complex theme : exploring self-doubt and loss and what it takes to move on, in a fantasy context. That grew to two books—Wolf’s Bane literally became the bane of my existence for 2 years, and Berserker—well, yeah. I was often two hairs shy of losing it more than once. … …Funny how the book titles see, to reflect my mental state at the time of writing…

Anyway, the end is in sight. Berserker started as a writing challenge :  write a million words in a year. I started out great—in two months I had about 50k or something. But then I hit a block and let the manuscript sit. I worked on other things while periodically going back and adding to it. But there were challenges, the main one being: How to write a satisfying trilogy ending? Some people have been faithful, reading all the books, they are invested in the characters and what’s happening to them, screaming at the end of book 2 and rabid for more–

Don’t you sometimes feel that writing the ending of a story is tough? So coming to writing the ending of a trilogy…

I was afraid of screwing it up.

Actually, I lied. I haven’t written the ending yet. But I will. I’m waiting for the editing to pull the story threads together to inspire the right ending in order to satisfy my readers. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I guess this is a thank you to everyone who has read my books, who has motivated and encouraged me with their comments and feedback and support. Know that you played an important role in getting this project finished. 🙂

www.oyegraphics.com
http://www.oyegraphics.com

So, back to work! Still lots to do but at least now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I’d love to hear your writing stories, both good and bad. Are you struggling, or riding the wave of success? Tell me about it 🙂

 

Essays, Misc

How Tackling the Dreaded Synopsis Helped Me

The dreaded synopsis.

Yeah, I said it.

I mean, who decided to curse the humble writer with the necessity of creating such a diabolic thing? I haven’t met anyone yet who enjoys writing them, and most people I speak to don’t know how, or struggle to get something decent on the page.

There’s a lot of information out there on how to write one. My issue has always been not knowing how to organize my ideas. What do I include and what do I leave out? When an editor someone asks for a 1 page synopsis and my book is 75k words, how do I whittle it down without missing something important???? Isn’t everything important???

Well, yesterday I gave the thing another shot but only because I had to. Someone had posted that a publishing company publishing big names was accepting submissions and guess what? They require a synopsis.

From the film Psycho
From the film Psycho

So, I searched the Internet and found some great articles, which I will list later. The difference this time, I think, is that these articles broke down the process step by step, added essential bullet questions to focus the thought processes, and added a checklist to be used before the final draft. I pulled what I needed from them and then started to build the synopsis. Cutting the manuscript from 75k to 1.5K was actually much simpler than expected once I applied the tips/notes to a synopsis I’d written years ago. I ended up with something that is the closest I’ve ever had to a decent synopsis.

From www.traditionalmusic.co.uk
From http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk

But that’s just the beginning. Some of you know that I don’t lay out my stories from beginning to end before I write them. My stories and books are exploratory for me, and I like setting out with nothing more than the barest of information to see where I end up. I rarely take notes, and if I do I almost never look at them again. They serve mostly to answer some problem or to clarify an immediate issue. Some people like a cluttered desk, I prefer a cluttered creative mind. To me, once something goes down on paper, the idea loses their luster. So I just take things one step at a time, teasing and developing threads and inspirations as they come. That said, retracing my steps and making sense of what essentially came from chaos is a major challenge, and that’s where the synopsis is a game changer.

It’s amazing how a story that was crystal clear when it was written can fade over time. As I wrote the synopsis for The Purple Morrow, the foundation of the trilogy became clear to me again. As I responded to the questions about the characters’ main conflicts, wrote summaries for the key players and their motivations, defined the stakes, and wrote about how the story concluded, it was like digging through mud and laying hands on a precious stone. In fact, I was relieved to know that despite being born of clutter, the overarching plot and subplots were clear throughout the three books. For example, I was able to see their birth and growth from book 1 to 2 (Wolf’s Bane). Also, the process revealed plot-lines that need development as well as outright plot holes that needed to be dealt with in book 3 (Berserker).

So, what do you think? What’s your take on synopsis writing? What resources have you found helpful? You can post links below to help others visiting the page.

Resources:

Jane Friedman: http://janefriedman.com/2011/10/25/novel-synopsis/

Fiction Writer’s Connection: http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-synopsis.html

Writer’s Relief: http://writersrelief.com/blog/2013/01/5-common-synopsis-mistakes-that-fiction-writers-make/

Thanks for reading!

Essays

Paperback Version of Wolf’s Bane is Here!!!!!!!!

From plus.google.com
From plus.google.com

Finally! I seriously think that after giving birth, getting Wolf’s Bane into paperback has been the second biggest challenge of my life. I think most creative people who take pride in their work are perfectionists at some level and, knowing that people would be paying more to buy the book made me want to make it as perfect as possible. Formatting a book is a big job. The intricacies of something like headers and footers alone took ages to master, and the funniest thing is that the one problem I couldn’t figure out (how to format different numbering systems for different sections) I figured out by accident. Sigh… And, at the last minute I rewrote the book blurb. And anyone who’s written one knows that bashing your head into a wall repeatedly is a more pleasant experience. And so on.

WolfsBane_Cover_2015_smashwords (1)But it’s done. I’m happy. Thrilled. And proud.

Thanks to everyone who has supported book 1 and 2. Hopefully, Berserker, book 3 will be ready this winter. 🙂