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W2P GUEST SPEAKERS

Katherine Kimbriel

Kathi teaches, and has several F&SF books in print.



10/9/06 6:59:17 PM Opening "Chat Log 10/9/06"

W2PSushi: Our greeter Adam is on line
W2PSushi: Kathi, our guest, is Dragonrain
Dragonrain89: Oooo, intimate numbers. Maybe I can keep track of everyone...
Dragonrain89: Hi, there!
W2PSushi: Carol will note be able to make it this evening, and Morgan's computer is fried . . . :-/
Dragonrain89: I'll give you homework. You can tell them about the book I'm going to recommend.
W2PSushi: good!
W2PSushi: hi Micki
Mallie1025: I guys--just got back from a hellish 7 1/2 ride from upstate NY!!
Mallie1025: Bad car accident had us stuck for hours
W2PSushi: not that upstate is hellish -- just the long drive
Dragonrain89: Do y'all need some info on me, or are we jumping into topic? Uggh -- an accident, or has the weather gone to $#@@?
W2PSushi: let's wait a few and see who else pops into the room :-)
Mallie1025: yes, going up was great--made it in 3 1/2 hours
W2PSushi: Adam :)
BrownDvs: Hey there, Paulson.
Genjii555: hellooooo
W2PSushi: Tiffany! :-)
Genjii555: Hi everyone

W2PSushi: I think we are ready to launch the session
Dragonrain89: So -- what is everyone reading? Fiction? Non-fiction?
W2PSushi: Kathi writes both!
W2PSushi: she belongs to SFWA, yes?
Dragonrain89: That was a "waiting for people" question, but y'all can anseer if you'd like.
Dragonrain89: Yes, I'm a member of SFWA
W2PSushi: looks like we'll go with informal chat and Q&A this evening
W2PSushi: folks, that means she is a REAL writer ;-D
Dragonrain89: Well -- I actually have something prepared. It's on writing a fiction synopsis. Any takers?
W2PSushi: we need advice on that!
Mallie1025: I love paranormal, time travel, shape shifting, witches, sorcerers and a little romance thrown in-easy to please lol
Dragonrain89: Good. First off, I should warn you up front that I have pretty bad arthritis -- so I may be slow responding sometime. And spelling may be erratic, accordingly.
Mallie1025: Nora Roberts just pubbed like that with a vampire in it too!!
Dragonrain89: Mallie, you should like the one I'm blocking out right now. It's a challenge to hit a genre yet be different.
Genjii555: I wish I had arthritis to blame my bad spelling on
Mallie1025: Yes, I dislike pure formula writing and won't write it myself
Dragonrain89: I blame mine on my vocabulary. It's much larger than the words I've ever actually seen written out!
Genjii555: lol
Mallie1025: my keyboard has arthritis as well as me :)

Dragonrain89: Okay, folks -- now that we know we're going to be creative spellers -- what I'd like to tell you about is essentially the "Good Parts" version of a book...
Dragonrain89: ...by Pam McCutcheon. It's called WRITING THE FICTION SYNOPSIS: A step by step approach
Dragonrain89: As I read it, I realized that A) I do the same thing for my "writing" synopsis, but had never used it for my selling synopsis.
Dragonrain89: I should toss in here that I did an article on synopses for WDMagazine. I'm constantly trying to refine.
Mallie1025: There are two?
Dragonrain89: There's Pam's book, which is the most recent. I teach my "good parts" version at cons. Also -- if you know Edge Books from cons, you can order it from Zane.
Dragonrain89: The story from WD appeared 2-3 times, and they recently had someone write a newer article for the magazine cycle.
W2PSushi: Cons = fantasy and SF and genre conventions
Dragonrain89: Exactly.
Dragonrain89: Now -- would you guys like this to be a "I ask questions and see if you've had any of this yet." Or --
Dragonrain89: I can give you a "chunk" of thought, and we can discuss it if so inclined.
Dragonrain89: I am NOT counting the number of people in this room....
Mallie1025: only 9 :)
Dragonrain89: Wicked person.
Mallie1025: including you lol
FitterthanUdad: ty for the invitation

Dragonrain89: Okay. Silence means we run with the topic. Let's start at A -- Synopsis versus Outline
Dragonrain89: Do you all understand the different between the two, as far as fiction is concerned?
Beccastrat: Yes.
Dragonrain89: (I'm worried about losing posts by making them too long.)
Dragonrain89: Okay -- my summation -- An Outline tells what happened in a dry, detached manner.
Dragonrain89: A Synopsis is a narrative that shows your story’s progress from start to finish...
Dragonrain89: by describing how character development and emotion affect plot development and vice versa.
Dragonrain89: Outlines can be useful, and can be used efficiently to create a fiction synopsis.  But don’t turn one in. ;^)
Mallie1025: ?
Dragonrain89: You want the editor to be invested in finishing the synopsis -- and then your manuscript sample.
Dragonrain89: Yes, Mallie?
Mallie1025: I wonder why telling the whole story in synopsis is helpful--wouldn't leaving a hook garner more curiosity?
Mallie1025: Aren't you just compacting your novel into a short story?
Beccastrat: ?
Dragonrain89: That's a good question. When I started out, CJ Cherryh told me to use a hook. But -- some editors HATE bring left hanging.
Mallie1025: :) well you are a big help!!
Dragonrain89: It's better to have an intriguing hook in your short cover letter -- you can tell things in the synopsis that don't give everything away.
Dragonrain89: There are three or four reasons why Pam makes the suggestions she does for synopsis writing. You can start listing, or I will.
Mallie1025: So you don't need to give the actual ending just the probable one?
W2PSushi: hello Abe & Ellen :-)
W2PSushi: our chat is well underway now
Wellnessmommy: hi sorry i'm late
Dragonrain89: Well, not exactly. You want to try and do two things -- get across the best info on both your book/characters AND your style.
Dragonrain89: Which varies from a 10 page synop to a 2 page synop.
Dragonrain89: Do you need all those lengths? Why not practice on what you have now?
Dragonrain89: I should add that I am trying to use Pam's suggestions in laying out a new book. The book assumes you have a book ready.
Dragonrain89: Oh -- important detail. She knows that we don't all read the same books. So she does three examples from Movies --
Dragonrain89: -- and explains why she chose the details the did.
Mallie1025: I am not sure of the difference between a summary and synopsis--I seem to be able to do the summary--the other--not so much
Genjii555: Can you give us those examples, Dragon?
Genjii555: if there's a way to sum it up......... the three movies
Dragonrain89: That means you're into your characters, and overall that's good. Let's start with why you're going to write this.
Dragonrain89: Bah -- too long. I'll try again --
Dragonrain89: Your agent may use a good synopsis as a “short cut” version --
Dragonrain89: 1.) to help pitch the book to an acquisitions editor.
Dragonrain89: Second -- A good synopsis allows the editor to determine quickly if your book is right for her/his line, and if she wants to read any farther.
Dragonrain89: 1.) .  (Even if she starts with the chapters, she will probably, after getting intrigued, turn to the synopsis to see if you can pull off the story.)
Dragonrain89: Editors can use a synopsis to “pitch” to a buying board and/or the senior editors --
Dragonrain89: -- to convince them to buy the book.
Dragonrain89: Yes, this one HAS happened to me. Brian Thomson really liked my synopsis for
Dragonrain89: FIRES OF HUALA. I wrote that WDMag article about that one.
Dragonrain89: Fourth -- 1.) Synopses can be used to help write the back cover blurb, and/or
Dragonrain89: -- given to the art department for use in developing genre cover art.
Dragonrain89: I know one writers who sends a packet of photoshopped stuff to art directors for her books!
Dragonrain89: Now -- at least one of you is thinking "! This will be as bad as writing the novel!
Mallie1025: yep
Dragonrain89: In other words–yeah, it’s as much work as a good short story, but it MAY sell your novel.
Dragonrain89: And -- I promise you, this is not a hard system to learn. I was ill when I read the book,
Dragonrain89: and I was still able to take an old synopsis, mark it up, and create a new synopsis.
Dragonrain89: It was so good, my agent started sending the book out again!
Dragonrain89: I'm gonna give you a few important things that can help narrow your focus for your synopsis.
Dragonrain89: But -- first -- you may send me a note at Alfreda89/at/gmail.com, and I will send you my eight page
W2PSushi: my last synopsis was a mess
Dragonrain89: write-up of my "good parts" version to get you started.
W2PSushi: they asked for 5 pages and I was all over the place. (I like complex plots)
Dragonrain89: I confess to a healthy terror of synopses. After all -- if I could say it in two pages, why write the book?
Dragonrain89: Being all over the map with a big plot is a common problem. I could name you pros
Dragonrain89: who can get away with no real synopses. But then their editor leaves the house,
Dragonrain89: and they need a new presentation fast!
Dragonrain89: I suggest you start out looking at your story from the bottom line -- who are you writing for?
Dragonrain89: If you don't know your market and target the synopsis to that market, you're sunk. You may also be remembered as a person who wastes postage and time at the wrong publishing line.
W2PSushi: me, F&SF all the way :-)
Dragonrain89: Not a bad plan!
W2PSushi: or maybe quirky literature
Dragonrain89: Read your genre; write your genre.  Want to mix genres?  Focus–what does the story concentrate on?
Dragonrain89: For example -- Mystery with romantic overtones?  SF with mystery overtones?  Romance with magic/fantasy undertones?
PHeeren: I am reading children's literature now
Dragonrain89: Do you want to write a children's book? Or an older children's through YA to adult book?
JnsnAngel: ?
Dragonrain89: Yes, Angel
JnsnAngel: Do you write in present tense or past tense.
PHeeren: both kid's picture books to adult's short stories
Dragonrain89: Ah -- that is hard. Let me see if I can remember what I scribbled down here (legal meds are the pits...)
JnsnAngel: Allen goes to town. Allen went to town.
Dragonrain89: Let me say this -- some people find present tense annoying. "Present tense" becomes period very quickly.
W2PSushi: Paul is finding present tense annoying. He is saying so in that chat!
Dragonrain89: For those of you unfamiliar with my novels -- the Alfreda books are first person.
Dragonrain89: Here's the first paragraph --
JnsnAngel: I wrote one in present tense but it was hard for me. I kept getting them mixed up.
PHeeren: I always use past tense in writing fiction
Dragonrain89: It's very hard -- I had the entire short story TRIAD in next to last version, and a friend caught one slip to present tense.
W2PSushi: fussy
JnsnAngel: I just used present in the synopsis. I am having a lot of trouble with my synopsis. Anxious to get your 8 pages.
PHeeren: are you always frustrated all the time?
Dragonrain89: "I wasn't there when Papa killed the wolf. But then girls usually aren't allowed to hunt them."
JnsnAngel: So you used present tense in your whole novel?
Dragonrain89: Past tense for most books -- I've even seen one written in 2nd person. I think I'm the only one who read the dumb thing...
JnsnAngel: Give me an example of second person.
PHeeren: would you please excuse me? I'm getting very tired so I will retire early, if you don't mind
Dragonrain89: It was a dark and stormy night when you came upon the castle.
W2PSushi: good evening, Tom
W2PSushi: The door will open and you will be astonished!
JnsnAngel: Oh, I don't like it either. Let me understand. You said it should be past tense for most books, but you wrote one in present tense?
W2PSushi: sounds like one of those old computer role-playing games
Mallie1025: My first synopsis had a short summary, a pitch to the target audience and the purpose for the book-all anyone needed to know, nice and neat and in one package--now why won't they be happy with this type of sysnopis--mentor told me
Mallie1025: rip it up and start over :)
Dragonrain89: Or worse, something that makes the reader "You." Very convoluted. Like a dream state for 300 pages.
Dragonrain89: Mallie -- do you want me to try and jump ahead, or take you there in stress?
Mallie1025: whatever you think is best
Dragonrain89: I'll jump ahead for a moment. Pam suggests, and I agree with her, that there are basically 3 types of synopsis openings.
Dragonrain89: To make it easy -- we have The Dive, The Hook, and The Map.
Dragonrain89: I'm trying to break this up for your log memory --
Dragonrain89: First -- The Dive is just what most of you are thinking. You dive right in and start telling the story.
Mallie1025: angel, writers like Demille write only in first and are quite good--not everyone can pull it off
Dragonrain89: But there are hints at how to do this efficiently, and to grab the editor's interest.
Dragonrain89: FIrst person is very hard to do -- I did my first three novels in third person multiples -- no more than six POV major and minor, was my goal.
Dragonrain89: In first, you have to discover the "voice"; and decide why you want to do this -- the Senior Editor at HP called and asked me why I wanted first person, not third.
Mallie1025: I am proficient in first because I did many years of non-fiction
Dragonrain89: I explained my reasoning -- I tried to do it in third, and it wasn't as strong a book -- and he said fine. NOTE this -- he said first person is harder to sell to casual buyers.
Dragonrain89: But he didn't try to talk me out of it. He liked it that way. But he wanted me dedicated.
JnsnAngel: So the synopsis and novel should match in tense?
Mallie1025: Yes, while I can write well in first, I don't like to read it much from others
Dragonrain89: Angel, no -- most people do the synopsis in present tense. But here's a suggestion (I do this on tired days.)
Dragonrain89: Write the synopsis in third person, when you have examined the notes from this, and get your hands on a copy of the book. (Request it from inter-library loan, if you must.)
Dragonrain89: Then -- convert everything to present tense. Yeah, a pain -- but sometimes much easier than trying present tense, and slipping in and out of tenses.
Mallie1025: good idea!!I do the opposite when trying to write fiction in third
Dragonrain89: I left a word out, sorry -- write in third person past Tense -- THEN convert to present tense when you're ready to try it.
JnsnAngel: You are so right. I guess I need someone else to read it and see if I messed up.
Mallie1025: Okay--so we have the Dive--now about The Hook and map?
Dragonrain89: It is good to have fellow writers who are serious about a good book and being good crit partners. It's not the same thing -- and I think you always need someone like that.
Dragonrain89: the Hook is, the writer creates a sentence or short paragraph that captures the essence of their story
Dragonrain89: and states it up front to intrigue the reader or set the tone. One they've done that, THEN they Dive into the story.
Dragonrain89: You're all giving me the "Oh, crap, here comes theme" look. Not that bad, I promise.
W2PSushi: LOL
Dragonrain89: In fact -- I did it before I knew this technique, with HIDDEN FIRES. Here's the first paragraph from the novel.
Dragonrain89: "He had spent a hundred years seeking the woman called Silver; he still didn't know if he was going to kill her."
JnsnAngel: Very good!
JnsnAngel: Did you use the same hook in your synopsis?
Dragonrain89: I could have put that as a hook -- hinting at longevity treatments, etc. --
Dragonrain89: and then start into a tale of a young man who thinks a freetrader betrayed his freetrader parents.
Dragonrain89: We see from both sides -- and nothing is that easy --
Dragonrain89: I could have used it as a hook. But I sold that book before I knew her system. Basically, I've been using her system all along -- but I'd usually try to condense wrong.
Dragonrain89: This is late for y'all. Shall we continue, or try another time? I should at least give you the Map --
W2PSushi: I see most of the gang sticking close to their monitors. :-D
Dragonrain89: The Map is what it sounds like -- when you have a LOT of backstory or major characters, it's hard to get that smoothly into a ten-pager, much less a five pager.
JnsnAngel: Please do tell us the map.
Dragonrain89: Continuing...you actually use subheadings at the beginning of the synopsis. Pam chose the perfect story for The Map -- STAR WARS.
W2PSushi: ah!
W2PSushi: why oh why did I not learn of this a month ago??? ;-D
Dragonrain89: She demonstrates BACKGROUND -- general about the forces of good and evil -- then gives thumbnail sketches about Luke, Han, Leia, and Darth Vader.
Dragonrain89: (Paul, if what you did works for that editor, you're home and have time to make up something for the art department!)
Mallie1025: So theme and premise would go in map section?
Dragonrain89: Then, she even uses PROLOGUE: as a header, and finally STORY:
Dragonrain89: Actually, theme and premise are going to go on a log you're going to make for each book you want to do in this system.
Mallie1025: Now I am confused--was with you so far
Dragonrain89: Okay -- we're jumping ahead over knowing true word count, finding markets,etc.
Beccastrat: Goodnight guys. Sorry to leave before the end.
Dragonrain89: I think what is confusing you is you're talking about making a topic sentence (to use an evil college term)for theme. But we need to see if spent out for us -- and indirect for the editor.
Mallie1025: So map would be more character and setting sketches?
Dragonrain89: Try setting up a preliminary worksheet to organize your thoughts. (Pam includes one in the book you can copy -- )
Dragonrain89: Yes, Mallie -- at least at the beginning.
Mallie1025: Ok--I am back on track again
Dragonrain89: Back to Star Wars. You're stating part of the theme up front -- the clash of light and dark.
Mallie1025: In the hook?
Dragonrain89: I'm not kidding about this being as intricate as a good short story. But once you learn it, you'll try to think of characters, etc., in this style.
Mallie1025: I write short stories so that's ok--just need to know the set-up
Dragonrain89: No -- in The Map. Theme will probably be mentioned, indirectly, in all three styles. Here is one thing you can do to help focus you.
Dragonrain89: Think of creating a Log Line. Remember the old chestnut about if you can't fit your idea on the back of a business card, you haven't focused your idea?
Mallie1025: No but it makes good sense
JnsnAngel: I was trying to think of the theme of my story. Decided it is. True love is worth waiting for.
Mallie1025: would that be like "Love conquers fear"?
Dragonrain89: Yes! Angel's there!
Mallie1025: I was referring to the business card them
Dragonrain89: In Hollywood, we’d call this the “high concept,” the hook that will interest people in your story.
JnsnAngel: Not exactly. I can't end the sentence in a preposition.
Dragonrain89: It may be the idea that generated your story in the first place.
JnsnAngel: Only kidding.
Mallie1025: True love is worth the wait
Mallie1025: :)
JnsnAngel: Very good Mallie. Thanks.
Dragonrain89: No one sees this prelim sheet except you -- whatever works. Here are three things it needs.
Dragonrain89: Your log line should either have, or imply, three things:
Dragonrain89: Character -- who the story is about
Dragonrain89: Goal:  What the character wants
Dragonrain89: Conflict: What’s keeping the character from reaching her/his goal.
Dragonrain89: Your log line needs all this so you know where you're going!
JnsnAngel: Then you give them the summary?
Dragonrain89: Here's one for Romancing the Stone: A timid {conflict} romance writer {character} must save her sister {goal} in an adventure like the ones she writes about.
Dragonrain89: What's another one? How would you do Star Wars?
Dragonrain89: Everybody relax on summary! It's coming -- but you're gonna craft a synopsis -- and they're gonna be good.
W2PSushi: yeah!
W2PSushi: star wars , , , hmm
Mallie1025: I sure hope so--the query is a snap compared to it
W2PSushi: (sorry, long day as work -- the Force is not with me at the moment! ;-)
Dragonrain89: Here's one for my unpublished mystery BLIND TIGER:
Dragonrain89: @#!!$
Dragonrain89: An artist {character} must discover who is playing “ghost” {goal} in the
Mallie1025: Young man(character) must defeat(conflict) his nemesis to find himself(goal)
W2PSushi: aspiring Jedi must save lady he does not know is his sister
Mallie1025: Been a while since I saw the movie :)
Dragonrain89: historical “speakeasy” she is converting into a B&B
Dragonrain89: before the dirty tricks escalate into murder {conflict}.
Dragonrain89: These aren't bad for starter log lines. Here's what Pam suggested:
Dragonrain89: A ragtag band of rebels {character} are the only hope of
Dragonrain89: saving the universe {goal} from incredible evil {conflict}.
Dragonrain89: See what I mean? As you distill, you see what the pole star is. And keep swinging back.
Mallie1025: Impressive!
W2PSushi: larger plot vs. personal aspect
Dragonrain89: Those three things again -- character, goal, conflict. Trifecta!
Dragonrain89: I must be honest -- grinding down my 120,000 word mystery to that one line...
Dragonrain89: ,,,took a long time -- like an hour.
Dragonrain89: It's not your imagination -- this is using old skills in new ways.
Mallie1025: Can you give link for Pam's book again--writing this all down
JnsnAngel: Burton Andrews fall unintentionally in love with his bestfriend's widow after he died saving Burton's life.
Dragonrain89: Yup -- but I want to compare Star War's LogLine to her suggestion for theme.
JnsnAngel: Is that Character, foal and conflict.
Dragonrain89: You guys are already there -- Good will triumph over evil.
Dragonrain89: So -- yes, you will be slipping this into the synopsis, but you may not spell it out.
Dragonrain89: WRITING THE FICTION SYNOPSIS: A step by step approach by Pam McCutcheon
W2PSushi: We have a Buy Page on our web site
W2PSushi: if it's on Amazon we can post its cover with a direct link
W2PSushi: or to the Publisher directly
Dragonrain89: Gryphon Books published it -- ISBN 0-9654371-1-6
W2PSushi: works either way, but we get a (tiny) cut from Amazon ;-D
Dragonrain89: I recommend it. DOn;t let it overwhelm you --she helps you make cheat sheets!
Dragonrain89: You may want to try this as an experiment for y'all, and compare stuff -- or even better,
Dragonrain89: if you've got written books, and have read each other's stuff -- all of you try to do this
Dragonrain89: for one manuscript -- then see if it works for you!
Mallie1025: this has been most enlightening--thank you!!
JnsnAngel: Thanks so much for taking your time. You will be hearing from me for the 8 page synopsis.
Dragonrain89: Last thought -- she gives you a little page of letter definitions to use when trying this out (like TH for theme). Copy the page and keep it at your elbow!
Dragonrain89: Good writing to you all. If you want to see what I've done -- before and new -- the chapbook has the story I did for the Zelazny memorial, and a new Alfreda story.
Mallie1025: Do you have a website link?
Dragonrain89: It's on my web site. Paul -- link to it from YDP, will you? Don't know if they give you a cut -- but we get nothing for an Amazon sale.
BrownDvs: Goodnight everyone.
BrownDvs: It was great having you here, Kathi.
W2PSushi: Thanks,, Kathi
Mallie1025: Yes I have learned more about synopsis than ever before--still hate it though :)
W2PSushi: I do the W2P site but not the YDP one :)
Dragonrain89: Oops...lost it. www.ke-kimbriel.com
W2PSushi: who *is* the webmaster for YDP, is it Lynn?
Mallie1025: got it--lovely site
Dragonrain89: Yes --
W2PSushi: this will all be in the Log, of course
Mallie1025: gotta go guys--most excellent chat
Dragonrain89: Thanks for your attention. I hope it wasn't more than you wanted to know.
Mallie1025: It was but I needed to know lol
Dragonrain89: But this book saved me when I thought I'd forgotten how to write.
Dragonrain89: 'Night! Thanks for inviting me!
Mallie1025: Nice meeting you--perhaps we will see you again soon
Mallie1025: night all stay safe
Dragonrain89: I have to check that I didn't misspeak myself before vanishing...
W2PSushi: you could never do that :)
W2PSushi: well, dinner time here
W2PSushi: thanks again -- this went very well I think
Dragonrain89: I hope so. I couldn't tell if this was concentration or blank stares. ;^)
W2PSushi: LOL
Dragonrain89: Thanks -- looks like most of this is right. The Good Parts gets you farther along -- then the book to follow!
W2PSushi: the rhythm of chat rooms is different
W2PSushi: you get used to it
W2PSushi: I have dear chat friends who I have never heard their actual voice
W2PSushi: but when we do meet,, it's like old times right away
Dragonrain89: Yes -- I know people who meet chat friends 1/2 way across the country at a midpoint.
W2PSushi: well my wife awaits -- better scram! Will ask more Yard Doggies soon
W2PSushi: if they want to chat here
W2PSushi: thanks again :)

10/9/06 8:41:10 PM Closing "Chat Log 10/9/06"


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