Saturday, September 27, 2008

Synopsis on Demand

I just wrote a one-page synopsis for my meeting with an agent at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference I will be attending this November. I surfed around, looking for brief instructions. I figured that what I think a synopsis should be and what others think is likely quite different. So, I did what I most hate doing. I asked for directions.

Well, there are a gazillion web pages out there with advice. And I’m betting most of the writing books I have offer some insight into synopsis writing as well. In the end, I went to Nathan Bransford’s blog and found his blog entry on writing a synopsis. He said what I already knew, that there is no one way to write one.

So, here’s what I did. The only instruction for this synopsis was that it be confined to a single page. I prepared a single-spaced page with three sections:

The Story

The Characters

The Format

I don’t know if this is right or wrong, whether it’s what an agent would consider a good synopsis, whether it will make anyone want to read my book. I especially hope it does the latter.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back It Up

When I was married (about a hundred years ago), my now former brother-in-law took it into his head to write the great American novel. He had saved a ton of money, so he quit working, rented an office, furnished it with a typewriter, desk and safe and commenced writing. The word, typewriter, should tip you off that this was before the time when everyone had one or more computers and this thing called the internet where we could move things all over the world.

The brother-in-law was a smart guy and took himself and his work seriously enough to ensure he had a backup. He made a copy of his work and asked us to keep it in our apartment in the event a fire or something unforeseen occurred to eliminate the original in his office. I think it was an honest to God carbon copy. When was the last time you saw one of those? When was the last time you saw a typewriter eraser? Or a...well, I digress.

Now, it's so easy to have multiple backups of our work and that ease makes it all the more common for us to not do it. Oh, it's easy. I can do it any time. I don't even need to say that, if you don't back up your work, you should. There are a lot of ways to back stuff up, though. One important factor that still holds true from the brother-in-law and carbon copy days is that it's important to have a copy in some geographic location other than your home. We think of our computers going to sleep and never waking up. But loss of home or office is another angle. So, making a copy by printing it out or copying it to a disposable drive or to a second computer is not sufficient.

If you print your work, save a copy somewhere other than where your computer resides. But there is a much better way to handle copies. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the simplest and most accessible way of moving documents to a storage place for safe keeping. Most internet accounts include storage space. If not, get a gmail account. Google to the rescue. Gmail offers an easy, accessible, free place to store work. You can access it from any web browser, and it never goes away. The question of whether or not we want Google to have that much information about our lives is another question, but for a quick backup of something, just attach the document to an email and send it to yourself. See? Easy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Midnight Sun - What a Scam!

The only thing I hate more than being lied to is being taken for an idiot. Stephanie Meyers discusses on her web page her feelings around Midnight Sun being leaked to the internet. Understandably, she talks of feeling violated and robbed. She states that she is so distraught that she has decided to postpone the book indefinitely.

Okay, that's when I got a little suspicious. This has publicity written all over it. And it's a cheap shot. The publicist who talked her into this stunt should be fired. First, her reaction makes me picture a two-year-old, flinging herself on the floor, refusing to walk another step. Second, it makes me feel manipulated.

I'm not saying that the book wasn't leaked, although I think that's a possibility. I'm saying that Meyers and her publisher are manipulating her readers by withholding. What's the best way to make a teenager want something? Tell her she can't have it. They're creating greater demand. And it's going to backfire.

She's lost me as a loyal reader. This book will show up, and it'll sell like hotcakes because of the controversy and anticipation created by this event. I'll buy it when it shows up in a second hand bookstore, unfettered by any obligation to provide its writer or publisher with royalties.