The weekly herding: how to write a synopsis and other troubles

…where I round up the best of the week’s blog posts – because someone has to – and shepherd them into a pen made of words.

There’s surely a literary pen joke to be made here, but I can’t seem to think of one. Please imagine something hilarious, if you would


Synopsis SOS

I’m stumped by the whole business of writing a synopsis, so I spent a lot of this week researching guidelines. Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis by industry expert Jane Friedman covers what you should include and what to avoid. She’s very clear and specific – ‘Synopses should usually be written in active voice, third person, present tense (even if your novel is written in first person)’ – and in turn recommends other posts that are equally useful.

Another article I stumbled across was the similarly pragmatic How to Write A Novel Synopsis on a website called The Writers’ Workshop. It might be a strange thing to say, but I found the tone of this post very calming (ie. you feel that writing a synopsis may not be such a big deal after all. I imagine it being narrated by the lady who does the ‘Mind The Gap’ announcements on the tube in London). And – hallelujah!  – it includes an actual example of a real synopsis to study. I find this a thousand times more helpful than any amount of theory.


Baby steps

Mslexia is an online magazine ‘for women who write’ (do check it out if you aren’t already familiar with it; lots of interesting articles as well as writing opportunities). This week, it featured a lovely blog post called  Chasing Dreams part 5 – Taking Chances. It’s about finding the courage to overcome a lack of confidence and take those initial steps in letting others see your work. Written by newbie contributor Elaina James, it’s heartwarming and highly relatable.


Putting the ‘martial’ in the arts

photo (27)
Came for the sumptuous covers, stayed for the wonderful writing

At the other end of the experience spectrum is Joanne Harris (Chocolat, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé and many other books that live on my Favourites book shelf). On her personal blog this week, she wrote about Why Authors are Ninjas. In it, she talks about the real business of being a writer. I enjoyed this for its sheer passion. Plus there’s a handy list dispelling commonly held myths about authors. A short excerpt:

‘See, here’s the thing. Being an author is a bit like being a ninja. You don’t get to be a successful ninja if all you really want is to be seen to be a ninja. Being a ninja is a covert activity. Ninjas don’t go around going: “LOOK AT ME, DUDE, I’M A NINJA!” They just get on with being ninjas, and no-one is any the wiser’  – Joanne Harris

And finally…

9XWFOW3MDFIt isn’t educational, other than as a demonstration of the human spirit, but I found this story rather touching. The Big Green Bookshop, a small independent concern in north London, was robbed during the week. Some kind soul set up a fundraising page in an attempt to help cover their losses. In a feature for the Guardian today, co-owner Simon Key talked about how overwhelmed he was by the public’s reaction and the outpouring of support he and his business partner have experienced. It shows that people really do care about keeping such quirky little bookshops going.


Photo credit: Mild(-Mannered) Salsa via photopin (license)

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