So I had a fun adventure in writing recently. While researching a certain literary agency, I noticed they requested a synopsis in their sub...

So I had a fun adventure in writing recently. While researching a certain literary agency, I noticed they requested a synopsis in their submission guidelines. No problem! I thought. Already wrote one of those!

Until I realized their word count limit was 500 words  and the synopsis I’d written was over a thousand.

Cue the panicking music, hyperventilation, and brown paper bags.

Ugh! I thought. Why were these agencies so determined to limit my creativity? I already had to condense my 53,000-word book into a three-page synopsis; now they wanted me to get it down to a mere 500 words? That was more terrifying than a summary! At least for that I wasn’t supposed to go over everything. I only had to give the reader enough of a taste to entice them.

But a synopsis! They wanted me to describe the whole story and go over all the main plot points in 500 freaking words.

Were they insane?

But then I stopped freaking out, buckled down, and just wrote. And, while it was difficult to say the least, I’ve found that I actually enjoyed the challenge. I found myself grinning as I labored to find the perfect words, the shortest phrases to say precisely what I wanted to say. And when I finally looked over the whole thing, checked the word count, and found that I was actually under 500 words, I actually cheered for myself.

So, initial panic attack aside, working on my synopsis has been quite the enjoyable journey (betcha never thought you’d hear a writer say that). Now, I’m half-tempted to put word count limits on all my projects!

Any of you had a similar experience?

One of the places I went this week (via reading) was a fantastic universe of Greek and Roman mythology: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, the...

One of the places I went this week (via reading) was a fantastic universe of Greek and Roman mythology: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series. 

Description: When Jason wakes up on a school bus hand-in-hand with a girl he doesn’t know (but who claims to be his girlfriend) and sitting behind a boy he’s never seen before (but who claims to be his best friend), Jason starts to get a bad feeling about the day. Throw in a faun for a coach, a couple of angry storm spirits, and a sudden ability to float on air, and the teenager feels like his brains about to burst. Before it can though, two kids in a flying chariot arrive, whisking him (and his newfound girlfriend and best friend) off to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. There, he’ll go on a quest to find a lost goddess, discover the truth about himself, and fight a whole bunch of kid-killing monsters along the way.

My review: 5 stars out of 5. I loved this book! The plot was very compelling with some super awesome twists. Leo, Piper, and Jason – the main characters – were all very interesting to read about, and I really connected with them. I also liked their character development, Jason’s and Leo’s in particularly.

All-in-all, it was a really amazing story, one I definitely recommend.

Comment below about some interesting books you’ve read recently! I’d love to hear about them!

“So what’s your book about?” A question every author dreads and usually answers with a resounding, “....Ummmm.” I mean honestly, how in...

“So what’s your book about?”

A question every author dreads and usually answers with a resounding, “....Ummmm.” I mean honestly, how in the world am I supposed to condense my 50,000+ words down to a pitch I can give you in under a minute? How am I to describe all the intricate plot twists and character developments in just a few sentences? Why can’t I just shove the book in your hands, ask you to read it, and we all move on with our lives?

Because it doesn’t work that way, dummy, my inner editor/alter ego tells me. And people want to have an idea of what the book is about before they pick it up.

Fair enough – to them. But not to me. I now have to find some miraculous way to shorten my beautiful book into a couple hundred words. HOW IN THE WORLD IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE???

A valid question, and I discovered an interesting exercise entirely by accident that opened my eyes to a new way of looking at summaries. A way that will (hopefully) help me keep them concise and compelling.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I do book reviews from time to time. Well, I was applying to be a review columnist on an e-zine, so I actually wrote out a description for the book, something I normally don’t do.

It was difficult to be sure, but far easier than writing a summary of my own stories. And, after reading some examples and going over a couple drafts, I had one I really liked, one I felt captured the major idea of the story and set up the basic plot in an interesting way.

So I started to wonder, why was it so easy – relatively – to write a summary for Origin By Jessica Khoury, and so difficult to write a summary for Sketchy Moments by Yours Truly?

I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t write Origin. I was just an observer, and as such could see through and get down to the basic plot of the story in a single paragraph.

Well, since I can’t exactly change being the author of Sketchy Moments (nor would I want to), I kept thinking and realized that, as a casual observer rather than the intimate author, I didn’t see every little niche and nook and cranny in the story. Instead, I was able to take a step back and see the overall plot for what it was.

And that’s all a summary is supposed to be about.

I don’t have to write down every little thing that happens in my book. In fact, I shouldn’t. Summaries are supposed to set up the basic premise and story structure, leaving the rest to the reader’s imagination – which is hopefully prompting him or her to buy Sketchy Moments immediately. When I get it published, of course.

Have you ever written a short summary – for your own book or for another? How’d it go? Post it in the comments if you like!

Below are both of my summaries, if you’d like to take a look. I know they’re not perfect, but at least they’re a start.

Origin by Jessica Khoury: Pia, the girl who can’t die, has spent her entire life in a hidden laboratory allowed to know only what her Uncle Paolo will tell her. Because he created her and raised her to believe that she's the future of humankind, Pia never questions his wisdom. Until the night of her seventeenth birthday, when Pia sneaks out of her compound, exploring the surrounding jungle for the first time. There, she meets Eio, a native boy with glowing eyes and a secret about someone she loves. Together, they discover the dark truth about Pia’s immortality, and the girl is forced to choose: either the life she was created for or the life she sees in Eio’s eyes.

Summary for Sketchy Moments: After the most humiliating incident of his life, Elliot Sharpe moves to yet another foster home armed only with his sketchbook, his locket, and the determination not to like his new family. At all. The only thing Elliot wants is a break: some time off from being the butt of every joke and a few weeks where he doesn't have to hear the words "Home Kid" even once. Then the Blanchards are welcome to send him along to the next placement, and they can all go about their merry way.

But then it starts to seem as if the family actually cares about him and Elliot finds himself liking them in return. And when he comes painfully close to losing the little girl he has come to love as a sister, the boy must choose: run for the hills before things get ugly or risk being hurt worse than ever before.

This week, something super cool happened to me: I won a writing contest! On Sunday, S. Alex Martin proposed a flash fiction contest about ...

This week, something super cool happened to me: I won a writing contest! On Sunday, S. Alex Martin proposed a flash fiction contest about “unseasonal snow,” because it was still snowing where he lives. I'd never done anything like this before, but I decided to try my hand at the contest and wrote a 500-word story in the form of a letter. I read it over again the next day, edited it to the best of my ability, then sent it off, even though I wasn't sure if it was any good.

But then I got an email Tuesday saying that I’d won! And I did a little scream and cheer right there at my computer. Well technically, it was a whisper-scream since it was like 10:00 at night, and if I’d really screamed, most of my family would’ve been too ticked-off to congratulate me.

But anyway.

I’m uber excited about this, especially since it’s the first time I’ve ever won a contest, and I wanted to share my story with all of you. So without further ado, here it is! 

The Snow Spell

So a little bird told me you’re wondering about the funky weather. Well, because I’m bored and it’s against the Wizard Rules, I’ll let you in on the secret – if you’ll keep this a secret.

It all started last fall. I was sprinting across the Sahara, running from an angry desert troll, and praying for a weather midget – any weather midget – to show up sometime soon.

Just like that, Jasmine, the weather midget, appeared before me. Her eyes flickered to the monster several sand dunes behind us. “Troll again?”

“How’d you guess?”

“Cut the sarcasm, Chaton. Otherwise, I won’t help you.”

I forced myself to stand, ignoring the football-sized stitch in my stomach. “Yes, ma’am.”

Her eyes flashed. “‘Ma’am’ me again, and I’ll definitely let him kill you.”

I, for once, shut the heck up.

Jasmine lifted her hands, muttered a chant, and then the snow came, soft white flakes fluttering down from the October sky. I smirked, wondering what the humans thought of it. Did your weathermen freak?

Anyway, I whipped around, watching the desert troll as the snow enveloped him, freezing the cracked, dry skin. He raised his fists, roaring once at the sky, then fell down flat in the snowy sand.

I shook my head, starting for the creature. “How can something so big be defeated by something so small?”

Jasmine shrugged. “They’re born from Sahara sand and live their whole lives in a hundred degree weather. Sudden cold shocks their systems. Is it dead?”

“Knocked out, I think,” I said, when I reached the still giant. “Not dead, but still,” I turned back to her, “I think you can stop the snow.”

No response. “Jasmine?”

She wouldn’t meet my eyes. Instead she jerked them around, staring at the snow and the sky. “There may be a problem with that.”

I quirked an eyebrow, smirking again. “Problem? No.

She glowered, eyes turning to inky pits in her anger. “The spell... may have been too powerful.”

Okaaay... “Well, how long’s it gonna snow?”

Still wouldn’t look at me. “Dunno.”

I thought about laughing, but cold as it was getting, the situation wasn’t so funny anymore. With no other options, Jasmine and I trekked across the desert until we found an abandoned hut to hole up in. Jasmine said it’d likely be over in a few minutes, but it kept snowing and snowing...

And, as you humans say, the rest is history.

So now Alex, you know why we’ve got all this stupid, fluffy, white stuff. The storm moved from Africa to America and will continue across the world until it runs out of steam. But count your blessings. At least you’re not stuck with a ticked-off weather midget who suddenly can’t control the weather. Hope you’ve got a warm coat, because this thing’s not stopping anytime soon.

Sincerely, Chaton Swift.

P.S.: This message should self-destruct after ten minutes, but I’m not sure I got the spell right. Let me know, yeah?

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