How To Write A Book Synopsis: Tips & Techniques

How To Write A Book Synopsis: Tips & Techniques“The synopsis is your sales pitch. Think of it as the jacket blurb of your novel (the synopsis is often used in writing this, and by the publisher’s art and advertising departments, if the novel is purchased), and write it as though you’re trying to entice a casual bookstore browser to buy the novel and read it,” says Marg Gilks

The synopsis of a book is a tool for pitching and selling the book. It is a narrative summary of your book written in the same style and voice that makes your novel interesting and gripping. In a way, it’s like a miniature version of your book because it should include all the important aspects of the story in sequence and maintains the urgency and emotion of the story.

You want to give the person reading your synopsis (an editor or agent perhaps) a sense of the setting, tone, and pace of your novel as well as a clear sense of the book’s genre and theme. When someone has read your book synopsis they should understand what the story is about, who the main characters are and why we care about them, what those characters want and why they want it, what is at stake if they don’t get what they want, what or who is in the way of those desires, and how it all turns out.

When you write the synopsis of a book remember that it should tell the entire story, even how the story ends. It does not include cliffhangers or teasers. Instead, it reveals the significant events and motivations that drive the story forward.

You should write the synopsis in present tense and third person. The first time you introduce your main characters, type the name in capital letters. Do this only the first time and thereafter refer to the character in the same way by the same name to avoid confusion. Define the conflicts these face and develop a sense of sympathy for your characters that allows the reader to relate to your characters and invokes compassion. Follow the course of the story through logical transitions and connected paragraphs. Be aware of any themes or symbolism you’ve focused on in your book and pinpoint the important plot points, the significant events, and the way these affect your characters.

There are two ways to write a book synopsis. Some writers begin with the synopsis, detailing their plot points and writing out their projection in the planning stages of their novel. This gives you a firm foundation and outline for your book that can help guide your progress. When the book is finished the original synopsis can then be adjusted to accommodate any changes that may have occurred through the writing process.

The other involves reading through the finished manuscript and making notes to fill out a synopsis as one of the final stages before submitting your manuscript to agents and editors.

Finally, before you send your synopsis to an agent or editor be aware of any specific instructions or guidelines they may have. Some editors prefer short, single-spaced synopses while others prefer longer synopses that are double-spaced. The length of a book synopsis can range from one to twenty pages with many agents preferring approximately five pages. Marg Gilks says, “I personally consider two pages ideal, and have distilled synopses down to a single tight page.”

Take the time to edit your synopsis for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Your synopsis should be as carefully edited as your manuscript and contain as few errors as possible. Do not rush the process. Your book’s synopsis will stand in for your manuscript and represents you as a writer to the editor.

The synopsis of your book will become a great tool for you after your book is finished. Especially if you are writing a sequel or series of books that will focus on the same characters or similar situations.

The real test of your synopsis is how it hooks the reader. Just as you carefully craft the first sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter of your novel you need to bring the same passion and conviction when you write your book’s synopsis.

Writing a synopsis can feel harder than writing the book. But if you remember the tips and techniques we’ve talked about and put it into practice writing synopses of your own books, stories, or even the books other authors have written, you’ll gain experience and confidence in condensing a novel-length manuscript into a few pages.

Do you have any other synopsis writing tips? Share your own techniques in the comments below and if you’d like to learn more check out Jane Friedman’s Webinar at Writer’s Digest and these two great books:
The Dreaded Synopsis: A writing and plotting guide by Elizabeth Sinclair Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract: The Complete Guide to Writing Query Letters, Synopses and Proposals for Agents and Editors by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook

Publishers and Publishing: Next Step – Finding A Publisher

For the past while, you wrote, and wrote, then wrote some more. Now as you FINALLY wrote “The End” to that story of yours you sit back, give yourself a pat on the back then stare at the first draft of your finished manuscript. The thought arises in your tired mind “Oh crap! What do I do now?”.

If you have the same type of mindset as I do then you obviously know that the first step is screaming “TIME TO PARTY!”, because come on, you just completed that one piece into which you poured your heart and soul. That alone is a big accomplishment and you deserve to celebrate over it.

Now after you celebrate and get over that annoying hang over you must have received, it’s time for you to take that next important step (after editing of course): Searching for a Publisher.

I am currently working on this step and I am fortunate enough to have people in my life to hold my hand along the way as this step can be scary. It’s not easy for a writer to send off their baby to strangers to be gawked, poked and prodded upon by “experts”. However it is a step that all writers (who want to be published) need to take.

So let’s take this step together. Seriously I am going to keep you all updated with how things are going on my end and I would love to have you join me and keep me updated on your end.

The first step I’m taking next is: Finding a Publisher. Some writers, particularly novelists might consider finding an agent rather than submitting directly to publishers. Some publishers do not accept manuscripts that are not represented by an agent but many do and some writers prefer to begin the search here.

There are plenty of tools out there to help you all with finding a great publisher. However these days the most important and safest tool to use would be the Writer’s Market book and/or website. If you have not heard about the Writer’s Market it is a list of all the publishers with information about what they are looking for with your submission along with contact information. This is a book and/or website that benefits every writer.

Go through the long list and choose about five that interest you AND will represent your type of writing. The best way to see if a publisher will represent your story (besides looking at the submission guidelines which is VERY important to do) is by looking and/or reading the books they have published.

Now that you have your list, post it somewhere you will see everyday and pat yourself on the back. You have now just completed the next step toward being published.

What’s next? You’ll just have to stay tuned for more of my articles to find out.

Note: I told you all that I would do this all with you, so here is my list.

    Three small ebook companies:

  1. Muse It Up Publishing
  2. Damnation Books
  3. Etopia Press

Five Creative Ways to Kickstart Your Novel

At some point everyone aspires to write a novel. Then the hypothetical writer sits down to write, Grand Idea in tow, and can’t find a way to realize it. Then the hypothetical writer gets depressed, closes the window, and quits working for six months, though they continue to tell everyone they know that they’re either writing or “getting ready to write” a novel.

You don’t want to be one of those people who talks about getting things done more than they get things done. Instead, if you want to be writing a novel, you should be writing a novel. Here are some creative ways to get that novel started.

1. Cut to the chase.

Don’t think in terms of establishing everything right away, especially if your grand masterwork hasn’t been outlined and will be more made up as you go along (as if things aren’t made up as you go along). If there’s a single event, or a character, or some other factor that’s making you feel forced to write, write about that right away. It doesn’t even necessarily need a place in your novel
right away; you’ll find a place for it as you go, and establishing that will help make everything else come naturally.

2. Don’t begin at the beginning.

Beginnings and endings are brutally, painfully difficult. They require a whole lot of revision and a great deal of planning to make them successful, effective and not bogged down in cliché. Start from just about anywhere else and your chances of getting frustrated go down considerably; your beginning and end will come when they come. Don’t assume that you’re writing a beginning
when you start writing, and that you’ll find a place for the first pieces you write as you get further along in your writing project.

3. Power through your first draft.

Don’t assume that you’re going to craft something truly great as you simply start writing. Instead of reading and rereading when you only have a few pages, keep moving; when a cohesive whole, or the seed of a cohesive whole, starts to take shape, begin revising then. You’ll feel a thousand times less prone to abandoning the entire project if you’re trying to support more than only a few hours’ worth of work, and your increased investment in the project will help you in the long term as you seriously approach the revision process later on.

4. Experiment with narration. (point-of-view)

If you find it difficult to write in the third-person, try writing from the first-person. Or consider even trying an epistolary format or another version of second-person address. In doing so, you might find yourself suddenly more invested in a character, or a concept, or discovering things that do and don’t work for you as a writer or the long-form work that you’re attempting to complete.

5. Read fiction that inspires you. Poach a good idea if you find one.

Supposedly at some point Pablo Picasso said that “Talent borrows, genius steals.” Don’t steal someone else’s work and don’t plagiarize, but if something moves you enough to start writing, ask yourself why it affects you so much and why it works, and twist that concept or idea until it begins to feel like yours. The best writers are also voracious readers of fiction; they know tropes and the rules of language well enough to be able to subvert and play with them, and how to make something that stands out in a world in which thousands of books are published yearly and there aren’t that many readers. Bringing up your consumption can only help you in the long run.

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement and a writer on call center management for Guide to Career Education.

Fiction Characters: Do You Need A Mental “No Vacancy” Sign?

Do your fictional characters keep you awake at night?It is 3:57 in the morning. Do you know where your characters are? If you are like most writers, you know exactly where they are because they refuse to let you get a proper nights sleep, or bath, or read, or time alone to enjoy the minutiae of life.

Once you have given life to someone, sometimes they do not shut up. I find this to be true of children, and characters. I rarely get to spend my hour commute listening to the radio, or relaxing with the windows rolled down and my mind on mute. As soon as the fiction characters in my latest story realize I’m alone the chatter starts.

The first time this happened to me, I was sure I was schizophrenic. When I stopped at each red light while driving, I tried to jot down an idea but, by then the characters had told their friends that I was free, and I forgot what I was noting in the first place.

Forget taking a bath. I used to think the kids, and the dog were most deft at keeping me from taking a bath alone. No, it is the antagonist calling to say he is ready to kill my main character, and by the way, …I need to shave my legs.

Sleeping can be like running a relay race. When I sleep someone shouts something into my psyche, and I have to jump up to write. My best stuff comes at 3:00 A M decidedly, because like an infant, that is when my fiction characters are awake. After I have pecked the brainstorm into my computer, I head back to bed. Usually, I can fall back asleep. At least until, the protagonist finds out what his adversary said about him.

When I first started writing, it drove me mad to share my brain with all the people who were crashing my psychological party. Now, when I’m done with a story, and things get quiet, I have let down.

I want to throw up the No Vacancy Sign!I sit in the tub and wait for someone to say something. Then I lay in bed, and listen to the quiet wishing my fiction characters would “throw me a bone.” When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of jabber going on in my brain, and I want to throw up the NO VACANCY sign, I remember how lonely I am without them.

I just flipped my sign over, reads Vacancy – welcome all night owls. I’ll probably catch you all at about 2:30…in the morning.

Do your fiction characters keep you awake at night? When was the last time you were able to have a relaxing bath or drive from one side of town to the other without their company? How do you deal with the lack of mental vacancies?

Photo Credit: Nathan Barry
Photo Credit: DG Jones

Rescue your Darlings by Kenji Crosland

This post is part of the Guest Post Giveaway at the blog Unready and Willing. If you think articles about writing or personal development (or personal development for writers) sounds like a good fit for your blog, please take a look at the Guest Post Giveaway page and see if any of the articles spark your interest.

You may be familiar with the phrase “Murder your Darlings.” This is the mantra repeated over and over again by teachers of the revision process. For many writers this is a painful ordeal that seems to take the life from a piece. Painful as it is, cutting out the parts that seem most precious to you is essential in polishing your work. Oftentimes when an editor will suggest that you cut a passage out of your story or novel, it’ll be one of your favorite sections–this is probably because you felt very good writing it. You were in the flow, and everything that fell onto the page just “felt right” to you. And now this editor wants you to cut it? To trash it as though it never existed? How could they be so cruel?

Is this the part of the writing process that you hate the most? Do hate the feeling that the passages that you had had so much pleasure writing will not see the light of day? I certainly did when I started out writing, but there are good reasons for cutting the fat. Although certain passages are beautifully written, they may do nothing to contribute to a story’s plot or give any insight to the characters. Exchanges of dialogue, though clever, may not really be important at all. The character that you snuck into chapter three was forced into the story just because you thought he or she was interesting. Lost in the flow of your writing, you might have spent two paragraphs describing a horse-carriage and not even know it. These passages simply don’t belong.

Instead of getting out your ax and murdering your darlings right then and there, however, why not consider dropping them off at the orphanage so that another story might be able to pick them up? Essentially you can create a database of written material that just didn’t make the cut for your other stories. Not only does this take some of the pain out of revision, but it also can give you a place to access characters, descriptions, and clever turns of phrases that simply didn’t fit in your other work. Whenever you feel writer’s block coming on, you can infuse some of the good stuff you didn’t use from your previous work into your new one.

To establish this orphanage, create a folder on your computer for your rescued darlings and then make sub-folders with names like “characters,” “descriptions,” “dialogues,” “settings,” and so on. Every time you cut a substantial part from your story, copy it and paste into a new document. Title the document in a way that you’ll be able to recognize it easily when you come back to it. Your “settings” folder would have documents titled “Roadside Cafe,” “African Village” and so on. The “Characters” folder could have documents with the character names, or just a short description like: “Nerdy Mobster” or, “Obsessive-Compulsive Stockbroker.”

Personally I find that I tend not to use too many of my rescued darlings in my new work. It’s comforting, however, to know that they’ll always be there waiting should you ever need them.

Kenji Crosland is a creative writing major who, scared of becoming a starving artist, became a corporate headhunter in Tokyo. Since then he’s regained his sanity, quit his job, and now blogs about creating an ideal career at He is also developing a web application that just might change the internet. Follow him on Twitter: @KenjiCrosland.

Have you ever cut a part of your story that you really wished you’d kept? What do you do with the darlings you cut? Have you used a character or scene that didn’t make the cut in one story for another? What kinds of safety nets do you use when editing and revising your work?

Five Traits Your Heroes Must Have

Your Romantic Hero? What character traits does he have?No matter what kind of fiction you write, you have to have a main character, a hero, with various traits. This is especially true in romance writing. Your characters are tall, dark, and handsome. They’re perfect.

Or are they?

Romantic heroes should have great qualities. Here are five qualities your heroes need to be well-rounded, believable characters:

1. Likeability

If you don’t like your hero, your reader won’t either. More importantly, neither will his intended love interest. No interest on the heroine’s part, no story regardless of how much your hero wants to be with her.

Even if he isn’t likeable in general at the beginning of your story, he has to have at least one likeable quality. He also needs potential to grow to be more likeable.

2. A flaw

Let’s face it: People aren’t perfect. Your hero shouldn’t be either. He needs to be flawed.

Give him a physical imperfection. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, with a limp. His face is badly scarred from being burned in a fire.

Give him a psychological imperfection. His uncle is a renegade vigilante who leads bands of clansmen to ambush rival clans as they travel. He’s a womanizer who has been told he has to get married or lose his title and position.

3. A love interest

While your hero could be narcissistic and love himself, he also needs to have an external love interest. What else is a romance but a story between two people, regardless of sexual orientation, as they fall in love and deal with the conflicts that arise as their relationship grows? Well, okay, it could also be a suspense, mystery, or historical, just to name a few. The lover needs to give the hero a reason to grow, to change. He can’t be the exact same person at the end of the story as he was at the beginning.

4. Other interests/events

Do you have one interest and only one interest in your life? I think the answer is no. You have more than one interest. Your hero should, too.

What else is going on in his life that takes his attention away from his one-and-only? War drags him away just as things are starting to get hot and heavy. Hunting takes him away for shorter times. Injury, and possibly near-death, keep him away for longer (but also serves for good growth in their relationship if his love interest is willing to act as his nurse). His job makes him travel cross-country. Football keeps him glued to the television on Mondays.

Give him something else to be interested in. Otherwise, you will have a flat character that no one – including you – cares about.

5. Motivation

What drives your character?

Other than spending time with his heroine, there is another driving force in your hero’s life. Perhaps it is protecting his people, getting a promotion, defending his family’s honor, or making enough money to live comfortably. Without motivation, your character is a dead-beat.

That’s not very romantic.

There are a lot of factors that go into creating a strong character. These five traits, while not exhaustive by any means, provide a good foundation for creating your hero. They are also not exclusive to men. Your heroines also need these qualities, which should complement the hero’s, at least in some ways.

Above all, your heroes and heroines need to be individuals and not cookie-cutter copies of previous characters with different names. Figuring out these main five traits will help develop their individuality. How else can you set your heroes and heroines apart from other characters?

Jen Nipps is a talented romance author and freelance writer/editor based in south-central Oklahoma, USA. She currently spends time in the hands of her love, the hero of her latest historical romance, “Trevor’s Triumph”.

Book Review: Fearless Confessions by Sue William Silverman

When Angela and Jodi first approached me to host Sue Silverman on her book tour I saw the word, “Memoir” and thought, “I don’t write Memoir and I don’t ever plan to.” But, Sue is a writer and “Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir” is not a book about memoir, it’s a book about writing.

Sue is incredible. After our initial contact she got a copy of her book into the post for me and it arrived within days. That was over two months ago, and while at the time I promised to move “Fearless Confessions” to the top of my reading list, I put it off, and off. Some deep, secret reserve held me back from opening the covers. Fear and perhaps an inner knowing kept the book at arms length. I would glance at the cover, feeling guilty because I knew that I would be reviewing the book this month and I really needed to have read it to do that.

Fear comes at us in all areas of writing, be it memoir or fiction, because, ultimately, with each word we write we tell the story of ourselves. I’ve struggled with my current novel because I know that there are elements of myself in each of my characters and I don’t know them. I don’t know myself enough to know these characters. Knowing that in finishing this novel I will have to truly learn who I am creates gargantuan writer’s blocks built of fear.

Perhaps, that is why “Fearless Confessions” found its way to me. I opened the pages and began to read and I could see myself in Sue’s words. I knew, from the first page, that this book would force me to look at my own situation, and, if I could muster Sue’s courage, it would force me to explore who I am. In turn, perhaps it would allow me to finish my novel.

Toward the end of each chapter, Sue William Silverman asks us to participate. It is not enough to be actively engaged in her voice and the heart she shares on her pages. Sue pushes her readers to take action, to begin now, to grasp courage and move forward. In book form it is tempting to skip over these writing exercises. It takes courage to commit to the exercises just as it takes courage to begin reading. But in claiming that courage with each exercise, it becomes easier to do the next.

Although there is a definite slant toward memoir writing through the book, “Fearless Confessions” is about all writing, particularly fiction writing. The techniques Sue shares are cornerstones in all excellent writing. Learning these skills and developing the craft of storytelling will improve your writing in every aspect of your life.

When we are first learning to read and write we are taught to distinguish facts, “An apple is red.”. As we grow older we’re told to expand on this, “An apple is red and round.”. As we discover writing as an art we learn that there is far more to every aspect of our lives then the simple facts. “Red” and “round” are no longer descriptive enough to truly convey what an apple is.

Sue Silverman’s “Fearless Confessions” asks us to look deeper. To see with adult eyes the complexity of life and express that complexity, in full, rich, evocative color, on the page. She asks us to discover ourselves in our writing and in turn, discover our writing within ourselves.

If you’ve ever wondered how to develop your writer’s voice, how to put emotion on the page, how to tell a story that readers live and won’t want to put aside, then you need to discover your own “Fearless Confessions“.

Now, it’s time to return to my own story.

Ask Sue Silverman and Win!

Please, don’t forget that Sue will be visiting Writer’s Round-About on the 21st of August and you still have a few days to ask your questions and enter the draw to receive your very own copy of “Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir“.

Pep Talk No. 99 – Believe

Believing in yourself or the quality of your ideas is, perhaps, one of the greatest challenges writers must face before they’ll find success in this industry. Ideas are plentiful and, if you’ve read about the Idea Waterfall you know, there are no bad ideas. But which of the multitude of ideas we have every day can be transformed into something remarkable?

Bigfoot, hard at work writing the perfect novel. George Singleton's Pep Talks, Warnings & ScreedsGeorge Singleton says:

“We should believe in the possible existence of the Perfect Short Story or Perfect Novel in the same way that we believe in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. They’re out there somewhere, but it’ll take some time to discover them.

Once discovered, without question, it will still take some work to convince people that it’s not a hoax. That should be your goal.” ~ Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds by George Singleton

Believe In Yourself

As writers, our purpose is to convince others that the story we tell is one they want to read. The way we write encourages their interest, it holds them to the page. There are aspects in everything we write that influences the reader from our hooks, hangers, and the sequence of events, to the suspension of disbelief.

A writer needs to believe in more than the possibility that the perfect idea exists. The greater battle comes when we must believe in our ability to TELL the story perfectly. Our ideas begin, pristine, flawless, perfect, and from there it call all go terribly wrong. With every word we write we are growing, learning the craft, honing our talent, and so with each word we get better at transforming our ideas into the form they deserve. To tell a story we must have faith in ourselves and our ability to share our ideas in a way that expresses it clearly to our readers.

One of the greatest fears that cause writer’s block is a sense that we cannot write the story that deserves to be written. This fear is one causing me the greatest concern with my current novel. It is an inner agony to know you have a fantastic story, rich characters, an intricate but solid plot and face the foibles of our own fallacy. Self-doubt is a destructive force that leaves manuscripts unfinished or gathering dust. Too often it is a sense of being unable to bring to the page the idea that originally formed in the mind.

How do you reinforce your self-confidence? How do you convince yourself you can tell your perfect story?

Each time I face this fear I remind myself, “If not me, then who?” There might be thousands of writers better than I but this story is one only I can tell. It is an idea that came only to me and there is no way I could give enough of it to another writer that they would produce my idea exactly as I see it. I am the only writer who can breath life into these characters. I might not do it flawlessly. In fact, it is certain to be imperfect. In lowering our expectations to simply putting the story onto the page we take the pressure of perfection from our shoulders.

This is also the reason I LOVE first drafts. A first draft exists because we make mistakes. No author has ever told their story in a single telling. Novels particularly require careful crafting. The first step is to get an echo of our ideas, our characters on the page. The first draft is a shadow of the story we want to tell. We give ourselves permission to write badly because this first step does not require us to tell it right. Any mistakes we make in the first telling of our story can be repaired in second and third drafts.

Do you ever face self-doubt? What do you tell yourself so that you can move past fear? How do you learn to believe in yourself, to believe you are the one to tell this story? Do you believe in the perfect story?

Career and the Direction of Life

Choose your future, choose your life!I was recently re-reading a guest post, “Learn it, Live it, Write it!“, written by Jenny Greenleaf about this time last year. In the post, Jenny talks about this mantra and how learning to live it and write it helped her career grow. In 2008 she continued to do amazing things as she learned, lived, and wrote. As I read over her post again, I started to really think about the questions she asked last year.

What Are MY Future Goals?

What are YOUR future goals? Have you thought about the direction your blog, career, or writing will take in the coming months? I have!

The fact is, I want MORE! In 2008 I made some significant leaps forward. I had some wonderful commissions, committed to a few long term projects, and began to step away from freelance writing to encompass my love of editing and web technology. I grew as a freelancer, and it was wonderful, but what I have today is not enough to sate my appetite for the work I do.

In 2009, I am dedicated to maximizing my potential. I am putting a great deal more of my every day energy into my current projects and spending several hours a week actively seeking new job leads, marketing my services, and socializing through the community.

What turn can you take to re-awaken your snoozing career?

I will develop strong, balanced, and giving friendships. Freelancers often lead rather solitary lives. I’ve found that embracing others enlivens me. I need to be able to turn to a friend when I’m struggling with fear or to share my joys.

I’ve never truly felt comfortable reaching out to others. As such, making friends is a constant struggle. This year I want to learn more about making and sustaining enriching relationships. I want to embrace friendship with people who share my passion for freelancing, web technology, writing, and more. Do you want to be a part of that with me?

What can you do to propel your career in the direction it wants to go?

I am committed to finishing my current novel. I will be in New York from the 26th of May to the 2nd of June, 2009 and will pitch my book at the pitch slam following Writer’s Digest’s Writer’s Conference. A great deal of work remains to be done. I really need to knuckle down and GET IT FINISHED!

This project has been hindered a great deal by fear. I fight against an anxiety attack every time I come to the screen with the intention of writing another scene. I don’t understand what causes this fear. There are a thousand reasons and yet none of them compare to the prospect of NOT finishing. To propel my career forward I must finish this book and fear is no longer permitted to stand in my way.

Are you working on projects that have become stale?

My plurk friend, Shelley Heath, recently said, “Maybe your heart is not really into it as a topic anymore. Maybe you need to spread the wings further and catch something of interest“. Honestly, I don’t believe it the case on that occasion but there are elements I’ve become disheartened with. As freelancers, we must be involved in the sales aspect of our business. It is vital to be able to sell yourself and your services. This is an aspect of the business I’ve always struggled with.

Part of what I do in cooperative effort with Miss Michele and Serenity Bly of is write copy for their weblog. SALES copy. There are fantastic readings available but the copy on the page needs to ‘call to action’ those who visit, it needs to entice them to buy, it needs to SELL itself. I know I can write sales copy but for some reason the prospect has been leaving me stale.

The project itself is one I LOVE, either I need to find a way to get beyond my sales copy blockage, or hire a writer to write the sales copy for me. I would much rather focus on the web technology and maintenance aspects. That is one fact that leads me to Jenny’s final question:

Do you need to find a new niche?

Focus On Direction, Find Your PathI have spent a great deal of time focused on the idea of myself as a freelance writer. I write very well and I can admit that, but my heart isn’t really in putting words to a page. Writing non-fiction is something I feel dispassionate about. I NEED to create, and web copy, sales copy, non-fiction articles, magazine articles and etc. just doesn’t spark my fire of creativity.

I need to focus on those elements where I can FEEL my creativity thrive. The design and programming I do as a Web Technician, for example, creates something real and visually tangible. It also caters to my need for instant gratification because every time I write a new program or edit a design element I can SEE it in action immediately. THAT is where I want to put my focus. That is the niche I feel most comfortable within.

Ask Yourself These Questions

How are you feeling about your career and the direction of your life going into the coming months? Can you answer Jenny’s questions, make changes, and buoy your hope that this year will be one for fantastic change and growth?

Weaving the Web of Plot

Coming into the final chapters of my current novel’s first draft, I build to the highest peak of climatic plot and feel like I’m barely holding all the threads together.

Writing a novel is a completely unique experience because, unlike short stories, articles, or blog posts, a novelist holds a complex weave of plots, sub-plots, and character growth in their quivering fingers. Each element introduced from the first page to the last must tie into every other element. Every aspect of the novel must have a purpose, every action an outcome, and every sliver of information must have meaning.

When writing a novel we begin by creating a scenario that begs questions within the reader’s mind. This is a vital stage, the development of the hook. In a way this hook is the crochet hook of our novel, it gripes the initial thread, weaving the first knot of our books intricate pattern. With this original hook we write on and at each juncture in our novel we must pick up and tie into the design one of the threads that make up the final design.

As a novel reaches it’s summit there are loose threads from a multitude of sources in an array of colors, lengths, and texture. The novelist needs to maintain tension and keep a firm grasp or risk the entire creation unraveling into a tangle of knots.

This stage of the novel creates an inner turmoil. Anxiety builds. With a project as significant as the writing of a book, fear of it falling apart is real and turgent.

A First Draft Is Just A First Draft

While feeling tangled in the threads of my novel I try to remind myself that, “a first draft is just a first draft”. As with a crocheted design, if a thread is dropped it is possible, although not always easy, to weave that thread back into the pattern after the other threads have been tied. It is the same with a book and indeed, this aspect of the novel process is expected. No one gets it perfect in the first draft.

Still, the risk is very real. While I can later labor over each chapter and line, carefully collecting and restoring loose threads of plot, at this stage it is easy to introduce weaknesses to the tension of the novel in whole. If you’ve taken the time to write a detailed outline you know how your novel should come together. An outline can help you keep the pace of your novel and, just as you would follow a pattern when crocheting, you follow the pattern of your outline.

A Book Is A Puzzle

I recently finished reading Christopher Paolini’s latest installment in The Inheritance Cycle and was charmed by his Acknowledgments in the back of the book. He revealed the same sensation I currently face with my own novel, Brisingr was a fun, intense, and sometimes difficult book to write. When I started, I felt as if the story were a vast, three-dimensional puzzle that I had to solve without hints or instructions. I found the experience to be immensely satisfying, despite the challenges it occasionally posed.”

Christopher, who had already pulled the threads of Eragon and Eldest together knew the truly daunting task his third book presented. In that way, every book is a puzzle. The pieces vary in shape and size needing a sharp eye, a bright mind, and long patience to find and place each piece to reveal the image.

Be it a Puzzle or a Web, a novel is challenging and difficult to write. The author puts their very essence into the pages, breathing life into the characters, and sharing their hardships.

As I face the final chapters of my current novel I experience the very real fear and confusion of my characters and I suppose they feel mine. They do not know the fate that awaits them and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I’ll get them to it. These threads are complex and if I can gather my courage, continue with patience, and push onward, we might just see the completed design.