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by Sandy Tritt
thought writing a novel was hard, huh? Try boiling that novel down to 500
words. That’s what a synopsis is—a mini-version of your novel that
captures the essence of your plot, setting and characters in an intriguing
way. That’s enough to make even the hardiest of writers run for cover. Now
do you want the bad news? Some agents/publishers prefer a one-page
synopsis; others want a more detailed, five to ten page synopsis. My
suggestion? Create a daggone good two-page synopsis and be done with it.
(See Section Seven for a sample synopsis).
How? If you’ve used the Novel Summary Worksheet in Section Eight, you
pretty much have your synopsis done. (If you didn’t use this worksheet in
the planning of your novel, do it now. It outlines your synopsis for you).
In the first paragraph of your synopsis, you must establish the main
character(s), the setting (both time and place), and the focus of your
story (use either your focus statement, or, in a character-driven story,
you can use the character statement). From there, list only the
highlights—what it is that takes your character or your plot from the
opening of your novel to the resolution. Do not introduce subplots or
anyone other than the major characters. Present major occurrences in
chronological order and KEEP IT INTERESTING (easy to say, huh?). Most
importantly, spend a paragraph on the climax and another paragraph on the
resolution. Make sure you include how the character has changed or has
been affected by the outcome in a character-driven novel, or how the
situation has been changed or resolved in an action-based novel.
Here is a list of suggestions:
• A synopsis should always be written in present tense, regardless of the
tense used in the manuscript.
• A synopsis should always be written in the omniscient point of view. If
your manuscript is written in first person, you may mention this in the
synopsis, but still write the synopsis in third person, omniscient point
• The first time you mention a character, put his name in ALL CAPS.
• Always refer to the character by the exact same name (not John in one
paragraph and Captain Starkey in the next).
• Most professionals prefer to see the synopsis single spaced. Check the
agency or publisher you are querying, and if no preference in spacing is
noted, use single spacing here and double spacing on any chapters you
send. Exception: if your synopsis exceeds two pages, double space.
• Be sure to use the full title of the manuscript, either centered in
title format on the first page of your synopsis, or placed in the upper
left hand corner, preceded by the word “synopsis.”
• Be sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors in your synopsis.
After you’ve written your synopsis, let it sit for a couple of days, then
come back to it. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Is it interesting?
Allow some trusted friends (preferably friends in the writing business)
take a look at it. And then relax. Once you’ve written a synopsis, you are
truly a writer.
(from Section 5, Workbook)
Want more great tips and techniques? Our
Inspiration for Writers
Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more
topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and
much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.
(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. September be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
by Winona Rasheed
So, you have your pencil in hand and
writing tablet ready. What do you
write about? How do you begin? Where
do your ideas come from? What
audience do you write for?
Writing for children is exciting,
rewarding and challenging. You can
find great ideas in everything to
enlighten a child and brighten their
From nature that surrounds us, to
the environment we live in, there is
a fascinating story to be told that
can delight a reader, or a listener.
From writing stories using
information from our own
experiences, or by jotting down
ideas from our own imagination, all
plays a vital role in writing for
It is a fact; books are an important
faction in a child's life. Starting
from an early age. Books teach
skills that are important to a
child's mental and social
development. Skills such as,
reading, thinking, communicating,
When you write a story, you are
giving them a chance to escape this
not so perfect adult world that is
already mind-boggling and chaotic to
the mind of a child.
That's what writing for children is
all about, giving them something
that they can relate to and identify
with, and telling it in a humorous
The story you write, rather it is a
fantasy, fairy tale, or informative
nonfiction, could influence a
child's life in a positive manner.
Giving children, characters and
situations that they can look-up to
and benefit from. Stories that
teach, and not give a preachy tone
of voice. Where the main character
is the hero and in the same age
bracket as the reading/listening
audience. Characters learning to
solve problems, interacting with
others, learning right from wrong.
All can be told in an enriching,
humorous, educational story. Making
reading and learning, exciting and
There are different types of books
to write for in the children's
genre. There are picture books,
early readers, chapter books, middle
grade books, and books for young
adults. As the child grows, so does
the content of a good storybook.
Page 2, Writing for Children
From word length, to descriptive
writing in the plotting and theme,
all are very creative and
challenging for the writer.
From concept books, to intriguing
fairytales and fantasies and
informative nonfiction, a delightful
story can be written that the
reader/listener can relish for a
I enjoy writing for children. I'm
sure if you give it a try, you will
love writing for this genre too.
Need more information?
Here are some useful sites to help
you get started.
1. Cory Green Story Tips, by Stefi
2. Recipe for Writing a Story
3. What Makes A Good Story, by Aaron
Good rules to know
4. Information on all aspects of
writing for children.
Free issue of Writer's Digest
Critiques by Sandy
Unlike most editors, I consider my role
to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I
explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how
to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat
business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other
Treat you with respect and compassion.
All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to
improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
Mark your manuscript, correcting
grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where
Highlight areas that are especially
well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
Where appropriate, offer suggestions for
plot development, character development or other areas that could be
Return a two-to-four page written
analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting,
characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks,
etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
If appropriate, recommend reading or
resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
Answer any questions you have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article above.)
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Publishing New Writers,
June, 2004 (no. 506)
Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.
Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions /comments email@example.com.
To subscribe and/or review our archive of past newsletters, go to
The Big Book Market
by Bruce Cook
We writers are
gathered around the publisher’s
trough, hoping our manuscript will get
the nod. We are there in the hope
that: 1) our manuscript can be read by
many and 2) someone will pay us. As
realists, we often opt for the first
when we publish online. As for number
2, the admonition that we write only
for pay tends to fade away with
maturity. Eventually we accept our
But we do want to break the cycle. We would do
anything, it seems. An e-book will do, but nobody will buy one until the
computer gets a floppy screen. We have learned to hate the old Vanity
Press system, and with reason. Now there’s Print on Demand (POD), and for
all its drawbacks, it is not a rip-off. But, even if we somehow manage to
produce our own book, there’s still the bookseller. If the bookstore
doesn’t stock the title we are floundering once again.
After all, publishing, like most other fields, has
monopoly companies which do not encourage new entrants (at least, not the
little ones). After all, the big chain booksellers like Barnes & Noble and
Borders will only purchase books from a distributor. So, like it or not,
to enter the “big market” we have to pay the big bucks for an account at
Ingram, Baker and Taylor, etc.
Alas, there is no guarantee the book will sell even
then. The next thing is to promote the book to booksellers (through R.R.
Bowker, another monopoly), or hope against hope that their first order, of
6 books, will produce enough sales for them to request additional copies
of the book. For, if the book doesn’t sell, the distributor has no need
for it. Case closed.
Let’s recap. When we can’t sell our manuscript to a
publisher, we’ve been turned down by an acquisitions editor who may or may
not have read the proposal. When we can’t sell an e-book, the problem is
trying to get people to read books on a computer screen. When we can’t
sell our POD book, it’s the distributors and booksellers who are blocking
But there is hope on the horizon. Barnes & Noble is
joining a major POD publisher. If this occurs, we will have a way to get
into the marketplace without paying the monopolist distributors, and that
is good. (That puts us into the correct level of competition – attracting
a buyer, and that’s fair enough.)
Now we might object to Barnes & Noble, for they are
using their own monopoly status to remove our independence in selecting a
POD publisher. Buy purchasing or affiliating with one, they are setting
the stage for the destruction of the others. Just like Wal-Mart, Kinko’s,
and Microsoft, the big monopolists rule. In this case we’ll even have a
new monopoly, the POD company selected by Barnes & Noble.
Shall we fight the bookseller as our enemy? For
example, we could wait for the floppy computer screen and start a Napster
for new writers, sharing titles online? Or shall we swallow hard and join
them. Remember our goals. Readers. Compensation. For all its faults, the
Barnes and Noble solution gives us the best of both worlds. The rest is up
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