Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Synopsis Short-Circuit

Writing a synopsis is not exactly my cup of tea.

I should say, it’s a nightmare beyond comprehension.

The problem lies in the fact that I had this story to tell and the only way I could tell it adequately was to spend 70-90,000 words doing that very thing. Now, once I have all those words down and have completed necessary revisions and edits, I feel my story is polished and as perfect as I can make it. That’s when someone wants me to describe it in 500 words.

Well, ok, but see, if I could have told this story in 500 words, I would have. Really. It took a considerable amount of time to write and edit those 70-90k words and now you want me to sum it all up in 500.

I understand the value of a synopsis, I do. I just find it a gut wrenching experience to write one.

It’s like this…

You hear that a Mr Leonardo da Vinci made a little painting called the Mona Lisa. You’re interested in this painting, but you don’t know if it will be worth your time and effort to actually travel to see it. Instead you ask him to send you an example, three brushstrokes, that are ‘similar’ to the Mona Lisa. You will use those brush strokes to determine if it’s worth your while to then view it.

Ok, I’m not da Vinci and my writing may not be any Mona Lisa, but I’ve spent considerable time, effort, and a little part of myself to create my ‘work of art’. It’s a hard thing to do to then pick those three brush strokes, carefully put them on paper, and present them in lieu of all the time and effort you put into the original piece.

Not impossible, but not easy.

So, to all those out there who may run into a synopsis I have painfully created, please bear in mind, it is a fraction of the whole. It’s an oyster without her pearl, the Mona Lisa without her smile (or her whole face for that matter), a commercial and nothing more.

I try to make it the best commercial I can, but there are so many layers to tear away, so many details to be left out. It’s like picking the cutest part of your baby and only sending out photos of that part. So if you get a nose, a very cute nose, remember the whole that you’re not yet seeing.

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Box of Inspiration

A box of inspiration...

A small box filled with a mishmash of toys. Pirates and action heroes, skeletons and spiders. An afternoon of adventure with a six year old's imagination. These things inspired an idea that developed into a story that is currently one of the two WIPs vying for my limited time and typing skills.

Something that looks more like an iSpy picture than a plotline, inspired a writer's mind to work overtime. It also got me thinking about the varied sources of my writing inspiration, and when that crazy thing called muse can strike.


It can come in many forms and be called many things. Maybe you see it as your muse, your friend, a whisper in the wind, or divine inspiration.

Maybe it calls to you in the middle of the night or nags at you like a buzzing fly for weeks on end until you can no longer ignore it. It may come like a lightning bolt, all at once, or be as painful and slow to draw out as a well rooted tooth.

It's that conversation with a friend that sparks an idea, that stranger who catches your eye and lingers on in your imagination. Or is it that childhood memory that made a forever impression? Perhaps another writer got your imagination working overtime, or a movie morphed into something new in your dreams.

No matter how it comes, where it's from, or what you call it, inspiration is what every writer lives to feel. That spark, which starts a story which compels us to finish it. It is at times a blessing, treasured and praised. It can also be a curse, a nagging, unavoidable obsession which cannot be quenched without labor pains and long nights of toil.


It comes when you least expect it. You must capture it and hold onto it, lest it vanish like a dream in the morning light. Because you never know, this inspiration may be the one. The one to inspire others, the one to cut through boundaries and take on a life of its own. The one, the story which must be told.

What are some of the simplest, strangest, most unexpected things which have inspired your writing? Do they haunt you, slowly developing into something tangible, or strike in the dead of night, like a dream you never quite awaken from?

What's your inspiration?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Great Expectations, or Expectations of Greatness?

When I wake up and my husband is away on a trip I get up with ease and take care of the kids, no matter how early or how tired I am. I may be groggy or wishing for a few extra moments of sleep, but I'm generally resigned and content in doing what I need to do.

When my husband's home and it's the weekend and I've gotten up early for days in a row, I approach the dawn with an entirely different outlook. I'm tired, I want to sleep in, I can barely raise my head off the bed, and I am crabby. Why? What's the difference shifting that morning wake up from contented to discontent?

It's expectations.

In life there are so many instances where what we are told to expect affects our outlook. A situation we would normally accept can turn into unacceptable in an instant if society tells us we deserve something better.

The world just keeps raising the bar and at some point we won't be able to keep up. We have luxuries beyond what could have been imagined 100 years ago, and yet we are restless and discontent, always striving for that something more.

Expectations can drive us forward in innovative and beneficial ways. They spur on development, inventiveness, and achievement. They take mankind from the cave of ignorance to the great towers of knowledge.

However, expectations can also tear us down as individuals, crippling us with a feverish discontentment that turns us bitter with greed and vanity. Suddenly we believe everything we are told we deserve, everything we must posses, every way we should be treated. We stop being an integral part of our own destiny and blame the world for things that never fall at our feet.

The characters of my latest WIP are dealing with expectations and the discontentment they can create. They've been taught by society to expect it all, because they deserve it all, but they might lose out on something very real and life altering if they buy into the promises that no one can deliver.

My characters have me thinking a lot about my expectations and how I let them shape my mood, alter my attitude and eventually control the amount of joy in my life.

Do I have great expectations that will inspire me to discover great things, or do I have expectations of greatness which will never be achievable and lead only to a bitter unrest?

Do expectations drive you forward or hold you down?