Keep It Brief

I’m getting ready to send some sample chapters of a mystery story to a publisher who also wants a synopsis of the rest of the book. A lot of writers are intimidated by the word synopsis, but it is actually not too hard to do.

A synopsis is a short summary of each chapter of the book that is usually written in present tense. For mine I read a chapter, then wrote a brief paragraph highlighting the main points of that section. I did this in turn for every chapter, ending up with 20 paragraphs to match my 20 chapters. This made the process manageable and less frightening.

Have a synopsis to write for your book? Keep it brief, and you’ll be done in no time.

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Need Inspiration? Take a Walk!

My family and I took a walk around the neighborhood the other day after dinner. We walked a good 2 1/2 miles round trip. There were lots to see and hear. People watering their lawns. Dogs barking from behind tall fences. Fruit trees filled with ripening fruit. Wonderful scents of blossoming flowers.

And even though I wasn’t looking for it, I found writing inspiration in several ways. I saw a ceramic animal and came up with a title for a new novel. We passed by a house that looked dark and sinister; a potential setting for some future story. We saw an old dilapidated cannon nestled in someone’s side yard; a great piece of a puzzle to solve a mystery.

There are wonderful inspirations all around us; ideas waiting to be told in an adventure or mystery or drama. If you ever find yourself lacking inspiration, don’t despair. Take a walk. You may be surprised at what you find just around the corner.

Building a Resource Library

It’s a good thing I like to read because part of my research for any project involves going through lots and lots of reading material. I try to purchase many of these resources to build my own library. For my ongoing research for early America, I have retained over 50 books. I probably have at least that many for some research I had to do for early New Mexico history.

I usually don’t have a huge budget to buy research books, so I have to be creative. Ebay is a wonderful source, but so are thrift stores, yard sales, and library book sales. I have found some wonderful big volume atlases and coffee table-type books for just a few dollars. One time I spent hours digging through a closing out sale at a bookstore warehouse where I discovered some wonderful historical books.

Of course not all of these books are in pristine condition. I can’t afford mint copies, so I have to settle sometimes for some worn issues for the older versions. But as long as I can read them clearly, I don’t mind. I’m looking for access to the information at this time. Perhaps later on I can afford some pricier and cleaner volumes.

Now if only I could figure out where I’m supposed to put all these books…

Building a Good Character

A story needs good characters to carry it along, that’s why it’s important to take time to develop your characters before you begin. Take out a sheet of paper or a few index cards. Decide what type of person he/she will be: antagonist, protagonist, etc. Then work on a name. I often pick up a book of names and glance through it so that my character’s personality is portrayed through the name. You could also do the opposite where you pick a name that is so unlike the person, but through the circumstances in your story he becomes the very description of that name by the end.

Now that I have a name, I start building on physical descriptions, personality types, quirks, and hobbies. Also, what is her back story? Where was she born, how many brothers or sisters (if any) does she have, and does she live with her parents or a guardian? These things are important because it will determine WHO your character really is.

Once you have done this with your characters, and you begin to write your story, let your characters speak for themselves. Show in actions what they do and allow their personalities to come out when they speak. This is how you develop voice. Let your mind be so in tune with each character that they are unique and different from one another in word and deed.

Think back to those great books you’ve read in the past with outstanding characters. They all had their own personalities, their own uniqueness, their own set of words. Now it’s your turn to do the same. Grab that pen and paper and start building your characters!