Wednesday 23 June 2010

Writing Exercise . . . Random Sentences . . .

Flicking through an old pad, I come across a piece that I vaguely remember writing a few years back. I can't remember what the actual exercise was, but there are two notes written at the top of the page:

"Our vampires are different . . ."
"Coiled within the shadows . . ."

I'm not sure where these came from. They may have been random phrases pulled out of the hat, so to speak, and so had to be Incorporated into a piece. Who knows. anyway, here was the outcome of that exercise . . .

Exercise: Random Sentences . . .

Everything he saw was covered in a thick, sticky layer of dirt. It coated his finders as he brushed them carefully down the bare wooden banister. It felt rough to touch and he removed his hand in fear of a splinter. Cobwebs hung in between the spindles, and each wooden step creaked under the pressure of his weight.

He hadn't imagined the lab to be like this. He had imagined it to be tended and well kept, but then he hadn't seen the professor in a long time. A dank smell wafted into his nose, dust attacking his senses, and he fought back an urge to sneeze. Now wasn't the time or the place to announce his presence.

Not seeing the professor for long periods of time was nothing uncommon. He always locked himself in his lab, working of something. Only his screams of despair or his odd cheers of success indicated that he was still there, but this time it was different. He had been silent for three weeks now - too silent.

It wasn't right.

The professor was Edgar's uncle, forced into guardianship by the sudden and shocking death of his parents. He didn't remember much about his parents, and had been brought up under the strict rule of 'ask no questions.'

He never did.

He had never even been down in the lab before, a lab that had been built in the huge cellar of the house, but now he needed to. He needed to know if his uncle was alright. Silently and dubiously, Edgar reached the bottom of the stairs and slunk over to the desk in the middle of the room. His uncles journals lay open, and he couldn't;t help his eyes as they scanned over the hand-scrawled words. They told of scientific experiments, of failures and successes, but one sentence struck him with horror.

"Our vampires are different . . ."


Something shuffled behind him. Terrified that he had been caught reading something top secret, he whirled around, his lungs gasping for frightened breath.

And there, coiled in the shadows, was a figure. It had an inhuman feel about it and instantly Edgar began to tremble. When he called his uncle's name, no response came, and he began to fear the worst.

But his fear was short lived.

As the creature burst from the shadows, fangs gleaming in the dim light, he knew what his uncle had been doing. He knew his uncle was no more, and knew that this man-made thing had devoured him.

He also knew in that split second that he was about to suffer the same fate.

Friday 18 June 2010

Pic of the Week . . .

Flicking through Google Images as I usually do, trying to decide on a pic of the week. It come to a point where I nearly gave up and went for a safe artist that I already knww . . . when suddenly, out of nowhere, popped a picture that I loved. I clicked on the website, and it opened up this huge gallery of wondrous pieces that kept me captivated for what felt like hours.

The pieces are a mixture of dark, atmospheric, moody, beautiful - and I loved it! I loved them all! In fact, I was so excited that I couldn't quiet decided which one to go for, so I today I'm going to treat you to TWO pics of the week. Aren't you lucky!

The Artist's name is Linda Bergkvist. Flicking through her gallery I realised that I've already come across her before, with a random picture that I once found but couldn't find the name. I was actually given the artists name back then, but never really had the chance to look it up - and then forgot about it. Sorry. But today she's back! And with vengeance!


Thursday 17 June 2010

How To Write A Synopsis . . . I Think . . .

The time has finally come, after the years spent tenderly polishing Gorthian, that a synopsis is needed. I hate synopsis writing, and I get the strange impression that so does everyone else. Everywhere I turn, every blog I read, I'm hearing the same complaints.

Many people don't see the point in a synopsis. Usually they are asked to submit a covering letter, some sample chapters and a synopsis. So if they want sample chapters, why do they need a synopsis? Well, I think that should be clear. The sample chapters are to allow the agent / publisher to get a feel of your writing style, and the synopsis allows them to get the feel of the story as a whole, as opposed to reading the whole thing. Agents / publishers are busy people. They haven't got time to read an entire manuscript to find out whether they like your work. If something is sent in without a synopsis, what do you think will happen to it? Yep, it'll have a date with the bin until the cleaner comes to take it away. They do not have the time.

So, how do you format a synopsis?

Nathan Bransord gingerly wrote a blog post about writing them, but it was a subject he had tried to avoid for a long time. In the end he gave in, battled his fear and put finger to keyboard to type 'How To Write A Synopsis . . .' .

He couldn't give any rock solid advice on how to write them, but did shed a little light on what to aim for. Luckily this isn't the first time I've approached agents, and so I've done research before in the past, and I have a rough idea what is required.

Unfortunately, and as Nathan reluctantly pointed out, there is no right way to write a synopsis. Many agencies and publishers are after different things. Some want one page, some want ten; some want a brief outline, some want a chapter by chapter breakdown. The only advice I can think of giving is do some research into your tended submitee, find out what they want.

But there is a second option and do what I and many others do? Write the outline for your story. Aim for about three pages. If you go over, it's no big deal, as long as it's attention grabbing. Make it heart felt. Don't write 'And then he did this, and she done that...'. Put emotion into it; make the agent / publisher feel what the character has to go through to get to the final climax; grab the agent / publisher; coax them into wanting to take time out of their busy schedule to read and fall in love with your sample chapters. This can then lead to them wanting to read the entire manuscript.

See how much hangs on your synopsis? It's the biggest marketing job for your work; the selling point; make or break. Write a rubbish synopsis, expect a rejection. This is probably the biggest reason why people hate synopsis writing so much. It's not the initial condensing an entire novel into three pages worth . . . We're writers, for crying out loud! That should be a challenge we're willing accept. It's the pressure of getting your synopsis right.

And it's THAT pressure that I'm feeling now. I aimed for three pages, but got five. I tried to cut it down even more, but found that if I did I was loosing the essence of the story. In the end I've come to the conclusion that my synopsis for 'The Calming Of Gorthian' has to be five pages long (well, four and a half - and that's double spaced!).

Only time will tell if it's right or wrong . . . wish me luck.