Lesson Twenty-Nine from a Manuscript Red Line: How’s your synopsis?

The publisher talked a lot about the synopsis in the closing comments of the Red-line.  I found this really strange, but I thought it had merit to mention it.

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

The reason I found this strange, was because they’ve already read the manuscript.  They’ve already made comments, and asked for it to be re-submitted.  Why are they even talking about the synopsis?

What it seemed like to me (being an optimist) is that they were actually being helpful.  They probably knew that there was a chance that the author may not make all the changes to their satisfaction, and that she might submit to other avenues.  They were nice enough to point out problems with the synopsis that might help her if she sent it somewhere else.

(Honestly, after reading all their synopsis critiques, I was wondering why they even asked for a “full” in the first place.  I guess you never know.)

So, this is what they said…

They went through a laundry list of what the story “is not”.

It is not about this, it is not about that either.  (Quoting what was mentioned in the synopsis)

It is not a character study on the main character.

The quest is not fleshed out…

These are some of the comments.  I am guessing they are saying that the synopsis was too in-depth and talked about the side plots in the story.

I can totally understand this.  It took me months of writing and digging and cutting and beta-bashing until I finally realized what my story is about…

Magellan Talbot has to save the world.  Too bad he doesn’t know it.

Boom.  Done.  Now, there is a lot of other stuff going on that is SUPER important and makes the story unique, but you wouldn’t believe how hard it was for me to boil it down to the above.  I kept getting bogged down by the details.  The crux of the story is simple.

To save the world he has to save the Goddess.
To save the goddess he needs to fight for her.
To fight for her, he needs to find the Rapier.
To find the Rapier, he needs to remember his dreams…
The catch?  He can never remember his dreams.
Or anything else about who he really is.

There is also a lot of other stuff going on.  There is a love story, and a jealous brother trying to kill  Magellan… but simplicity is the key for the synopsis… I need to use only the elements that draw the story forward that are closely attached to Magellan saving the Goddess.

The publisher’s next comment in the Gold Mine Manuscript was “If the story is about saving (the alternate world) then that’s your focus and everything that happens in the story needs to lead to that point.  And the synopsis needs to be focused on all the activities that happen to get to that point.  Tie in every character that is introduced to get there as well as why and how (the MC) is the true key… build that up and show how that’s important.  Show us through actions and scenes that push the story forward.”

After reading this, I think I may have edited my own summary down too far.  I bought it down to the bare bones of the fewest characters involved that draw the main plot line forward.  And I also think I centered on the WRONG plotline.  My current synopsis is straight and to the point, but it is more centered on the jealous brother… which is important, but not the center.  I also took out Harris, who is probably equally as important in the novel as Magellan is.

Honestly, I am just not qualified to give anyone advice on a Summary.  I am just as lost as the rest of you.  I have helped out others with suggestions, because sometimes it is easier to have someone else boil down your story for you.  The best I can do is give you the exact quote that the publisher wrote for the Gold Mine Manuscript. (above)

Read their comment over carefully, and do your best with it.  And… when you get lost… remember that you have friends in the blogosphere who are always willing to help.

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry

Gah! Today was supposed to be the cover reveal for ASHES IN THE SKY. But my publisher called me to say it would be postponed. I don’t have a date yet.

Ashes Teaser postponed

I guess lesson learned that no matter how well you plan and publicize, something can always happen at the last minute to pull the plug on your drain.

I understand why they pulled it, and it’s a good reason that I think will make FIRE IN THE WOODS fans happy in the long run.

From what I hear, little hiccups like this are not uncommon in the industry.

Sooo… Onward and upward.

I still have plenty to do finishing up book three.

Have you ever had something flip-flop on you at the last minute?

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Lesson Nineteen from a Manuscript Red Line: Don’t annoy the reader

I giggled when I typed out this heading.  Everyone knows not to annoy their readers, RIGHT?  But can you tell when you might be doing just that?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

In the Gold Mine Manuscript, before the extraneous POV’s were taken out, the Reader had more information than the Main Character.  The reason this was bad, is that the reader was fully aware of Bad Guy #2, and knew her name.  (Let’s call her Cindy).  So, a hundred or so pages later, when a character starts talking about “Cindy” and the main character says “Who’s Cindy?”  We get that “Duh” feeling followed by a “Been there, done that” when someone explains to him who “Cindy” is.

The publisher said “We need to know what he knows, not what everybody else knows”.

Now in the revise, the Main Character actually witnesses a scene with “Cindy” in it early in the novel.  (although he doesn’t know it’s Cindy yet.)  So, at least he’s seen her and has an idea of who she is.  I haven’t seen how the author works this part out, yet.

The first time I read the passage that the publisher had a problem with, I thought: “I know this already” but I understood the need for another character to tell the MC what was going on.  It was redundant though, and it didn’t feel right.  The new revision, with fewer POVs, and the MC discovering more on his own, should help work around little things like this.

The best thing to do, is not let any one character know more than your Main Character… if it is something that he or she will eventually have to find out.   You don’t want to be in a position of having to bore your reader even for a line or two, while you bring your Main Character up to speed.

JenniFer_Eaton Sparkle__F

You don’t need to be extraordinary to do extraordinary things. Fire in the Woods @month9books

One of the things I do on Instagram is pop out a message of good will from time to time.

In this particular one, I picked out one of the themes for Fire in the Woods and combined it into a promo video.  This is ten seconds long.

You don't need to be extraordinary to do extraordinary things. The motto of FIRE IN THE WOODS @month9books

A video posted by Jennifer M. Eaton (@jennifer_m_eaton) on

What do you think?

Jennifer___Eaton

Lesson Eighteen from a Manuscript Red Line: What makes your story Unique?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

This one might be tough, and was the subject of a one-hour conversation between the author and I as we tried to figure out how to do it.

The Publisher said that the story reminded them of Percy Jackson, and the world seemed too much like the Lord of the Rings.  Their comment was that they understood that not all plots are unique, but they want their authors to take what is not unique, and make it unique. They wanted to know what the author could offer in this world that has not already been done, and “why were people on horses and not in cars” (since the story does not take place in the past)

Wow.  Tough one.

One of the things that initially drew me to this story was the very “typical” medieval fantasy world.  Knights on horses, Kings, Queens, a sorceress, and throw in a few faeries and a centaur for good measure.  Simplicity.  I really liked it.  I read another beta with a similar world, but he threw in these outrageous sci-fi-like creatures that they had to battle, which seemed very out-of genre to me, and ruined an otherwise GREAT story.  The Gold Mine Manuscript has a great plot and characters that I can relate to, and it is simple and enjoyable.

But… the publisher wants more.

The author has discussed a few ideas with me.  Some seem great.  Some make me cringe.  I’ve only read the “Act One” revise, so I have not seen too much of the fantasy world yet (Act One takes place in Tennessee)  I don’t know what the author is going to do.  I am holding my breath and biting my nails.  I have the utmost confidence in the author’s ability.  I just hope that the simple pure nature of the original story does not get lost in reaching for “uniqueness”

For the rest of us…

How do you know if you story is unique?  I think mine is, but I don’t really know.  I haven’t read anything like mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

I might find a publisher who thinks my ancient flute buildings, next to old Renaissance architecture, next to newer modern buildings is weird.  Will I change it?  Dunno.  They might find it weird that my characters walk everywhere and don’t use cars, but they travel on space ships to other planets.  Will I change it?  I see no reason to.

There is nothing drastically bizarre about my setting.  Yes, it takes place in another galaxy, but the setting is not what my story is about.  It is about the characters and interpersonal relationships.  It is about a boy who has gads of magical power, but is so afraid of it, that he uses the power to erase his memory.  Unfortunately for him, he still needs to save the world.  I see no need to distract from my story by making it “freaky” so it seems “different”.

Is your story unique?

This is a tricky question.  You won’t really know until you get your manuscript into the hands of a publisher if your story is unique in their eyes.

All I can say is, good luck.

JenniFer_EatonF

Jennifer M. Eaton’s Appearance on the Writers2Writers TV Show @month9books

Woohoo! It’s finally here!

It seems like forever that I taped this segment for Writers2Writers. What a great experience this was. Looking back to create this link to the segment, I saw that 6,400 people have watched my solo segment, and 1,400 people have tuned in to the entire 30 minute show that my segment was featured in.

That’s a really awesome feeling!

Here is a link to the Writers2Writers YouTube page where you can find more great features to help hone your writing skills.

https://www.youtube.com/user/writers2writers

And right here is my stand-alone segment, featuring my Top Ten Tips for polishing your manuscript before you submit.

Enjoy!

JenniFer_EatonF

Lesson Seventeen from a Manuscript Red Line: Who are we talking to?

      

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

We’ve been on Point of View for a little while now.  No need to break a trend.  This particular publisher harped on it a lot, so here I am passing their wisdom on to you.  The next POV comment they made was to make sure it is immediately obvious when you start a chapter whose POV you are in.

I was a little surprised by this.  One of the things that I admired in the Gold Mine Manuscript, was the beautiful imagery.  The author is so much better at building the “view” of the scene for a reader than I am.  The problem is, that she did it in the beginning of the chapter.  As a reader, you would have to get through the entire description of the room before you found out who was in it.

Honestly, I never even considered this a problem.  I liked it so much, that I even tried a few on my own.  It sounded weird in my novel, though.  My natural instinct was to write “Harris stepped into the room.  Pink cascades of fabric surrounded him.”  Rather than:  “Pink cascades of fabric swirled along the walls, dipping and spinning before the etched windows…etc , etc.

Both of these two examples tell you there was pink fabric hanging from the walls.  One just tells you that Harris was in the room.  This publisher prefers the first example.

This is really not a tough fix.  If you have a flowery, beautiful beginning (Good for you, I stink at this)  Anyway… keep your imagery, but introduce the POV character who is seeing the scene, so we know whose “head” we are in.

Happy editing!

JenniFer_EatonF

15 Second Trailer for FIRE IN THE WOODS from Jess’s POV @month9books @Georgia_mcbride

For this mini-trailer, I went back to the closing statements of the original full-length book trailer. My hope was that this solidifies the story in the minds of people who heard of the book, but also peaks the interest of someone seeing it for the first time.

Again, I am seeing more and more feedback with each mini-video I post on Instagram. I’m not sure if that is because I am getting better at it, or if followers are just starting to get more comfortable with me.

I am having a ton of fun meeting people over there though, and I’m learning about tons of new books.

Anyway, here’s the latest.

Please let me know what you think!

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_JenniFer____EatoN

Lesson Sixteen from a Manuscript Red Line: Cutting down your Point of View Characters

This was a really interesting post to revisit for me, because I have since temporarily abandoned this manuscript. Yes, that it is a HUGE amount of work to set aside, but I realized that I was just not talented enough a writer to take on such a complicated story.  Will I go back to it?  Yes, totally. But only when I’m ready. And only after I can come up with a stand-alone to take the place of the first half of book one. Like I said… this story is wicked complicated, and until I can “un-complicate it” I’m afraid I wouldn’t be doing my idea justice.

Give me a few years and I will get back to it.  For now, Enjoy me pulling my hair out over one of the complications…

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also look at “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

Lesson Fifteen discussed the necessity of cutting POV switching to a bare minimum… but how do you do this?

My suggestion?  Make a list of all your POV characters.  I’ve been doing this as I’ve been editing.  Once you have the list, decide which are really major characters, and which are just there for information.  Here’s my list, and my judgement calls on each character.

1.       Magellan – Main Character – No brainer.  He needs to stay.

2.       The High King  Hmmm.  I think I need him.  Without his POV too much of the explanation of the world is gone.  Only delete if absolutely necessary

3.       Stephen – The villain– Not budging.  I need to get into his twisted homicidal brain.

4.       Castillia – The Goddess – I’ll have to chop some stuff I love, but I think she can go. Magellan is in most scenes, so I can use his POV.

5.       Instructor Candor – The only one who really knows what’s going on in the story– Cut only as a last resort

6.       Prince Harris – Main Plot line character – He has to stay.  No budging

7.       Tome – Minor character – Delete most of his POV.  See if I can get away with the one small section that contrasts with Prince Harris at the end of the book.  I can delete that if I must, but I like the contrast of rich and famous compared to poor pauper.

8.       Jerric – Delete POV.  Easy to use other characters.

9.       Minthius – Minor character – Delete and rewrite in the King’s POV since they are in the same scenes.

10.    Dacailin’s Son – Ha!  I can’t even remember his name!  He only had a small POV for information only. Delete.

11.    Matt – Could probably remove his POV, but at the end, it has to be there.  Fight for this one.  If I lose his revelation at the end, I think it confuses the novel.

12.    Harris’s Mother  – Informational only – Giving a sentimentally weepy okay to delete.  I can explain the horrors of the Stanton Castle through Steven’s POV (Although with less emotion.  Ugh)

13.    Red – Transition character for Harris – Delete (**sob**) No need to get into her head since we will never see her again in this novel.  Delete the scenes in her POV entirety.  Erghhh!!!!!! (Her first two scenes with Harris will stay-they’re in his POV)

14.    Matt’s parents – Only one scene – Delete and let Matt overhear it

15.    Meagan – Girl Power – She only has a small POV section at the end of the novel as everything gets sewn up.  She’s the girl, though.  I know I might be asked to get into her head more.  Right now I am avoiding it by using Magellan, Stephen and the King in most of the novel.  Might be able to get away with leaving it like it is.  (I can be hopeful, can’t I?)

Wow—That’s 15 points of view!  I didn’t even realize it.  I never even considered that this may be a problem.

So, here are the stats after I broke them down:

Necessary POV:

1.       Magellan (MC)

2.       Stephen (Villain)

3.       Prince Harris (Main Plot Line Catalyst)

4.       Meagan (Girl Power)

POV that I’d like to keep

1.       Instructor Candor

2.       King

3.       Matt

POV that I can remove

1.       Castillia

2.       Tome

3.       Jerric

4.       Minthius

5.       Dacailin’s Son

6.       Harris’s Mother **weep**

7.       Red **painful**

8.       Matt’s parents **possible loss of sentimentality try to keep sentiment in the re-write**

So, I have four POVs that need to be there.

Eight POV’s can easily be eliminated. (Not that it won’t be work) The characters will still be there, but the scenes will be told from someone else’s perspective.

I’m left with three more POV’s that I really want.

The King is intrinsic to the beginning of the story, and the end.  No other POV characters appear in his scenes.

Matt is intrinsic to the end of the novel.  He is “alone” in the Pre-climax scene where a revelation happens for the reader.

Candor moves the story forward in the middle.  He is the only character that does not lose his memory for most of the novel.  I might be able to remove him.  I’d just rather not.

POV characters that will remain:

1.       Magellan (MC/Protag)

2.       Stephen (Villain)

3.       Prince Harris (Main Plot Line Catalyst)

4.       King (Overall Story Driver)

5.       Meagan (Girl Power) **One POV scene at the end only if I can
get away with it**

6.      Matt (The “best friend” – Only in the third act)

So, this is what I’m going to cut it down to.  I am hoping that this will fly, and they do not ask for more cuts once this gets into the hands of a publisher.  Each of these characters have a big enough role that I think a reader can identify with them in their POV.  The main POVs will be Magellan, Stephen, Harris, and the King.  Matt and Meagan’s POV will be near the end.  (Which I know is a “no no”, but I am going to try to bend the rules a bit)

For all intents and purposes there will only be 4 POV’s in the first 350 pages.  Matt pops up around Page 350, and we pop into Meagan’s head in the tie up chapters at the end.

Hopefully, by removing the ones that were obviously there just as info-dumps, I will be able to slip in a few extra without it being noticeable.  (Yeah, I know.  Wishful thinking, but I can try.)

Good Luck!

_JenniFer____EatoN

An eight-second trailer for FIRE IN THE WOODS @month9books @Georgia_mcbride

I cut my timing even closer on this one. This was mostly a test of a new software upgrade that came through. I messed with it, and when I saw the effect I was floored. I got a very nice response from this, and it is only a whopping EIGHT SECONDS long!  Super quick, but I think it gets my point across.

What do you think?

 

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_JenniFer____EatoN