Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Party Game: Synopsis

Alright party guests, ready for day two? If you haven't commented in yesterday's blog, be sure to do so.

I'm going to say Ivy (from Croatia) won yesterday's book. She commented she has visited each guest writer's site. That's impressive. (Ivy, I'll email to work out the details.)

Okay...here we go!

Most writers find writing easy. That's what we do. Writers write. The first nightmarish moment comes when we learn we have to write a synopsis before we start querying literary agents.

This is the American version of how that goes: Synopsis tells the whole story, including the big twist we have told no one about AND the surprise ending - in one page. Yes, ONE page. A synopsis is one single spaced page with one inch margins all around, font size 10 or 11, in third person past tense. The trick is to only introduce the main characters, or like in my stories, group the nuns into THE NUNS, and only tell the key points of the story. This is a good way to learn to cut out flowery goobly-goop.

Finally when that is done, the next illuminating realization is that the story has to be told in one, maybe two, paragraphs in the query letter - and it had better be breath taking. As time goes by it is highly likely you'll be asked for a 30 - 50 word blurb about your story -- usually don't tell the surprise ending in this one.

One day, Jen (see the line up on the sidebar) and I got on the kick of doing these exercises - I think she needed one for her book jacket - then we went over the top and did log lines.

A log line comes from the motion picture industry. Scripts were recorded in a log and there was only one line to write a description that would cue studio people which script it was.

I don't remember what I wrote, but for example on Kathryn's Beach, the log line could be: Woman returns to LA to face her past. See? No kidding. They are short. A whole book in just a few words.

Today's party game is to chose any book from the party prizes in the sidebar, write a log line for the book and post it in the comments. (Kathryn's Beach is off limits - I just did it.) If you are shy, it's ok, I understand just leave some kind of comment every day - it's important in the end.

Okay, off with you, scoot, write me some log lines - you don't have to be a writer to do this. Guest writers are welcome to join in, but you can't do your own book or YOU can do a better log line for Kathryn's Beach. Let's see what we get.

Too shy to write and post a log line, then hang out and party in the comment section. (I really want to see some log lines. Do as many books as you want from the line-up on the sidebar. Let's see if we can get one for each prize book. Trust me, you can get enough info from the author's websites. There is no way to do this wrong. We're just having fun.)

From Ivy, with love and pancake...

Here's one from Glyn...makes him an honorary Californian, don't it!

Okay! It's official! EVERYONE is from California today! (my 'hometown')

I love movies with dancing, all kinds. I love love stories too... here is the last dance for today.

JOY COLLINS is here tomorrow!

The comment section is below this line. Click on the word "comments." That's where you can leave a note. eMail me if you have trouble with this...NadineLaman(at)aol.com


  1. Seeking Sara Summers: "A woman's mid life crisis that has her friends reeling, her world rocking, and her heart aching as she journeys into a new and unexplored future."

  2. Hey Carrie! I knew you were here, but I didn't get to post that I dared you to do a log line. Look how fast you are!

    That was easy, wasn't it. Next do one on a book you have NOT read, like I dared you.

    xx Nadine

  3. I admit that was a good one. Wonder what Susan will think.

  4. You say, 'Most writers find writing easy. That's what we do. Writers write.'
    I disagree. I HAVE to write that's the difference between someone who writes and doesn't write. The secret is making it look easy. I pick up a book by Anne Tyler, ie Patchwork Planet, and I think she is so good in her easy style but I feel certain she worked hard at making it look easy.
    Now one thing I completely agree with you on is the synopsis. I find those really difficult to write.

  5. I have never tried to write a synopsis - too scary! So Glyn, you going to enter and do a log line? Just because Nadine is asleep (bless, asleep in the corner with her party hat all droopy) doesn't mean we have to stop the party!

  6. I wrote s synopsis once. I think it came out to 12 pages. Luckily I never needed it. ;)

  7. A synopsis is hard but I think a query letter is harder. I have always read that a query letter should give a tease for the book while giving the reader a "taste" of the writer's style. I find that to be impossible. My query letters always sound so business-like. They give you nothing in terms of my writing style.
    And I agree with Glyn - I HAVE to write. Soemthing is missing from my day if I don't write something, even if it's only in my blog.

  8. Hello, Joy, Glyn and Jeannine!

    Boy, Nadine will have a lot to catch up wgen she wakes up! :)

    Talking about synopsis and queries-I read all those agent's blogs where they lament on how lame queries they get, and I got the impression that these have grown into genres on their own. They matter more than the writing itself. Luckily, there are pages like Query Shark today. At least it makes it the tiniest bit easier.

    I have to agree with Glyn, too. It's something that haunts you until you sit and write it down.

    Kindest regards from Croatia,

  9. "Congratulations Nadine, on your epic week, marking the "100th Blog"
    I'd like to be part of the party and offer one of my lovely photo cards,
    made right here in England, to the Author Winner. Winners choice
    of an image of France, England or one of my naughty Cows."


  10. Belly of the Beast: Log line

    "Seeing the murder of his mother wasn't just the start of his revenge, it was the start of an incredible career of crime and retribution."

    Hey - this is fun! Pour me another marguerita - I'm ready to paaarteeeee.....

    Oh Marsha - those cards sounds fun. How do we win one of those?!

  11. Ok, I got lost last night...I fell into the Brandy Bottle, but I'm back now with a log line (did my best given that my heads a bit fuzzy).

    Irene Watson: The Sitting Swing

    One womans poignant journey back in time to face an abusive past and bring healing to her present.

    I think I need the "hair of the dog"...now where did I put that bottle???

  12. Good morning everyone,

    Wow, where do I start? Thanks for putting on the coffee, Ivy.

    *rubs eyes* looks at smiling party goers* Was I talking in my sleep?

    No? Whew! So what are we talking about?


  13. Belly of The Beast by Andrew Revels

    A shocking personal tragedy propels Dominic into a life of crime where he will face the ultimate question... how far would you go to avenge a loved one?

  14. Morning Nadine,

    I know just how you feel but, as my old ma used to say, if you fall off the horse you have got to get right back on there again...or did she say "off the wagon"???Hmmm...will have to think about that one.

  15. Oh wow, you have a great discussion going.

    Jen...I don't think 12 pages is a synopsis...it is, um, well - a short story???

  16. Carrie,
    I have one of Marsha's cards and I love it.

    For the guest writers/hosts - prize giving authors - to win Marsha's prize, you have to get the most people to comment on YOUR day. The author of the day and my comments aren't counted.

    I think it is great to get a little friendly competition going between the guest hosts - don't you?

    Thanks Marsha! Great idea!

    xx Nadine

  17. Re: the synopsis--lol! Hey, I've read some books that had a PROLOGUE that length! :)

  18. Synopsis: I think the trick is to send your synopsis to a fellow[experienced]writer who has NOT read your ms. See if they can gleen the story correctly from the synopsis draft. They will have an easier time of cutting nonessentials from it too.

    My first million synopsis were awful.

  19. Wow - Coffee with Cate's log line was waaay better than mine. Darn, will have to think up some more!


  20. Anyone want a piece of pancake cake? Fresh out of oven, goes perfectly with coffe!

  21. Ivy,
    Mmmm, yes please! Smells delicious. You and Carrie will be swapping recipes before the day is over, she loves to bake (from scratch)!

    Look at the part in purple at the very top of the page...

    xx Nadine

  22. Those loglines are better than anything I've come up with. Nice work!


  23. Just saw it, and emailed you! :)
    You have no music today? I have a wish...it's in your mail!


  24. Say The Word-Jeannine Garsee

    Teenager Shawna Gallagher struggles to find her identity against a backdrop of betrayal, bereavement and family dysfunction.

  25. Hey Ivy honey,

    any pancake cake left? Thinking about these log lines is giving me a huge appetite.

    Great party Nadine!!!

  26. Ivy has the music started! Isn't she a great co-hostess!

    Love ya, kid!

  27. Glyn...thanks for the suggestion, got the old 33 & 1/3 spinning on the turntable now!


  28. Hi, Kate!

    There is still some cake left, though considering the rate at which it dissapears, not for long! Vanilla or cinmamon cream?

    Thank you, Nadine!

  29. Oh yes, I'll have another with lunch (noon here).

    Ella is thinking (seriously) of having a 200th post blog party...let's all be sure to show up. This is really fun having everyone together!

    xoxoxox Nadine

  30. Here's Ella's address:


    Mmmm, this cake is really delish!

    xoxoxoxox Nadine

  31. Just thinking...maybe, oh maybe...on another of your blog anniversaries...Ella and I will be on the "list"?


  32. Oh there's an idea - debut authors' party!

    I'm betting on you two! Have you told Ella what you volunteered her for?

    BIG hugs, everyone!


  33. Believe me, that party will be a party no one will EVER forget! :)

    I haven't told her anything...are we thinking the same? :/

  34. Ella's ears must be burning. Hope she'll stop by tonight!

  35. oH I do hope she comes. Text her?

    I'm popping out to the sandwich shop. BRB

    We'll grill (again) later. Mi casa es su casa! (I'm not really bilingual and probably spelled that wrong, keep in mind my Brit friends are trying to teach me ENGLISH - then I'll be bilingual - maybe).

    xoxox Nadine

  36. Carrie, I absolutely LOVE the log line you came up with for Seeking Sara Summers.

    You rock!

  37. Hey Susan *hug* I'm glad you're here.

    Just came back from the sandwich shop, let me get you a plate...and introduce you around...


  38. Hey Nadine,
    Your book came in the mail today. I can't wait to read it.....although I'm already a fan of everything you do. Blog parties?! You really have some great ideas.

  39. OooH HUGS! I'm glad. I think this party is FANtastic, thanks to everyone.

    (Just be glad you don't have to live with me...)


  40. Hey Andrew! You're back...I didn't see you slip in again.

    (Aren't backdoor friends the greatest!)

    xx Nadine

  41. *music begins* (see above)

    *dances* off to the patio with an arm full of warm fluffy towels from the dryer for the swimmers playing water volley ball...


  42. Argh! I want to play water volley ball!

  43. Well sure, honey! We have tons of swim wear ...enough for everyone. C'mom...I'll show you. There is a real cute one, I think you'll love it.

    Here we go! *dancing off...*

  44. Hey! The neighbors called, we can use their pool too! Whoo-hoo!

    *mumbles to self* log lines?

  45. Ok, I'm bloated on pancake cakes and cinammon cream (thanks Ivy). No water voleyball for Kate :-( ...it's past my bedtime here in the UK.

    Enjoy the party you lucky people and keep those log lines coming.

    See you for Wednesdays session. XXX

  46. Nite Kate! Sweet dreams. See ya in the morning!

    I'm going to take a few minutes and do a couple of housekeeping items on the blog. If you try to post comments in the next few minutes and it doesn't work, try again in a few minutes. Nadine

  47. Hey, where is everyone? I just got here and all I find are deflated balloons, piles of confetti, wet towels and drunks with tummies full of pancake cake lying in the corners. Oops, I spy Nadine - poor baby - across the room cleaning up the mess with a broom. What kind of revelry has been going on here? Guess I will have to quit these lunches out with the boys and start staying here where the real action is.

    Anyway, I am throwing down the log line gauntlet to all of you who skipped right over the non-fiction books on the list. *slap* gauntlet hitting the floor ...

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson:
    The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success

    "Writers discover success and avoid humiliation through the joys of clean copy."

  48. Hi Cathy! Good day at work?

    Mind Starting N'Sync again? I was just thinking about a log line for Carolyn's book. Shall I play? I've read it, so this might not be fair...

    Here goes: Editing tips, techniques, and shortcuts.

    She has a good tip about using search...

  49. Cathy, I can just see the wheels turning in your head. You are already hooked on blogging, aren't you?

    It's fun, if you don't take yourself too seriously, and make it fun to read... Your first blogging tip from me.

    XX Nadine

  50. Here's a bit of [interesting] trivia for you. 1. Cathy, Joy, and I live in the same town.

    2. Fred Baby's used to live at the beach I used for Kathryn's Beach. His book is set in Las Vegas, but it has some connection to Seal Beach too. (Isn't that cool?)

  51. 3. Carolyn H-J and I have both lived in two of the same cities, and haven't met in person.

  52. whew...took a little nap. I feel like I'm at the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon.

    There's an idea for you...some duo cleb blogger could blog during the telethon.

    Feel free to take the idea and run with it...

  53. I'm still dancing! Replaying all the party music...I have the Muppets stuck in my head.

  54. Its a real end of the school holidays summer song that I remember from my youth when I was in my teens and I knew nostalgia then.
    (BB's 'Do It Again' in case anyone's wondering)

  55. Hello Glyn!
    You gonna hang around for 15 when the new post appears?

    I've been on YouTube and MySpaceMusic dancing. I love movies with dance scenes... might post one last song for today..

  56. Morning!

    Wednesday, 8:45, I'm ready or the next party day. Here is my log for Jeannine's Say the Word: When being perfect is worse than being yourself. A teenager's way to discover the real beauty of soul.

    You're right, this is tough....

    See ya later!