Here’s a quick grammar tip for today. You’ve probably wondered the rule behind when to use i.e. versus when to use e.g.
Both i.e and e.g. are based in Latin. I.e.stands for id est, meaning “that is.” E.g. stands for exempli gratia, meaning “for example.”
I was reading a good way to remember this, according to the Grammar Girl, is to associate i.e., which starts with the letter i, by “in other words.” Associate E.g., which starts with e, with for example.
i = “in other words”
e = “example”
I’m finally getting around to writing the dreaded novel synopsis. The synopsis is probably the most challenging item when putting together materials in order to be considered for publication. Not every agent I’ve found requests a synopsis. Everyone is different. Some want a query, synopsis, and the first few pages of your novel. Others do not require the synopsis, at least not initially. Everyone will ask for the query, however, so you’ll definitely need to write that.
I decided I would go ahead and write my synopsis even though not everyone requires it. And for those that do require it, I will now be ready to submit to them as well. What I have found is most everyone is different when it comes to advice for writing a synopsis. There does not seem to be a set formula for writing one. Some say to condense your novel down to one to three pages, others say five to ten pages, and still others say length does not matter. General consensus seems to be between two and three pages for the synopsis.
Most everyone also agrees that you should include your major plot points, major characters, and your character motivations. Beyond that, it’s pretty much up to you how you write it.
You also want to avoid simply writing in a chapter by chapter format where you say: in chapter one this happens, then in chapter two this happens. While I think that’s a good place to start, you likely do not want your final synopsis to read in that format. My plan is to start with the chapter by chapter format and then go back and pare it down to two to three pages, blending the major characters and plot points into a seamless summary that reads more like the copy you find on book jackets than in an instruction manual. The chapter by chapter format has also been helpful for me in determining the most important events and characters and giving me an idea of where something might be lacking.
Resources for writing a synopsis:
*Source: WriteToDone.com, guest post by David Masters
Isaac Asimov, one of the big three science fiction writers of the twentieth century, published over 500 books including novels, short story collections and non fiction, making him one of the most prolific writers of all time.
Asked by Writer’s Digest magazine for the secret to his prolific writing, Asimov said:
“I guess I’m prolific because I have a simple and straightforward style.” ~Isaac Asimov
The above article covers 9 points:
- Write in a clear, conversational tone
- Try to get your first draft down quickly
- Start with a question
- Use established structures and plots
- Treat your writing as a craft
- Know your motivation for writing and keep it with you as you write
- Write every day
- Never give up
- How much do you need to write
What are your thoughts on free-writing vs. outlining? Do you like to start writing and let the story evolve as your write, or do you plan out your plot points, characters, etc. before you ever begin your story?
I would say I’m more of a free-writer. Though I may switch to outlining the next time I start a novel. I could have saved myself a lot of time, I believe, because I ended up basically throwing the entire first two drafts in the trash.
Writer’s Corner has a good article on How to Find Interesting Words and Names for Your Fantasy Writing. The article covers the following points:
- Keep a small notebook of interesting names and words
- Maps are an excellent resource
- Dictionaries and encyclopedias
- Foreign languages
- Add a glossary to your novel
- Hearing the words
- Enhance your readers experience
Names of cities on old maps have been especially useful for me when writing my novel. To give place names a sense of authenticity, I’ve used old maps of England and France from the medieval period and simply tweaked them a bit.
Scott Ginsberg has some good advice on disciplining yourself to be a more effective writer. His article 8 (More) Ways to Discipline Yourself to Write Every Single Day – Even When You’re Not in the Mood covers the following points:
1. Shift your attitude toward writing.
2. Rearrange your definition of “writing.”
3. Pick your best medium.
4. Eradicate your belief in Writer’s Block.
5. Stop trying to “find” the time.
6. Avoid creative compartmentalization.
7. Begin writing Morning Pages.
8. Remember the Circle of Write.
I’ve compiled a list of blog topics related to medieval history, historical fiction, fantasy, fiction writing, or industry news. Here’s a brief rundown:
Does the fantasy novel you’re working on avoid the typical writing cliches? Compare your novel against the following Web sites:
Granted, the Web sites are not aesthetically pleasing, but it’s still fun to go through the checklist and see how your fantasy novel matches up.
I guess a question that comes out of all this is: does it really matter if your novel uses some of these cliches? Will that make it any less successful?
“Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)”
A good article discussing the common problems amateur writers face that cause literary agents, publishers, and editors to immediately dismiss submissions. The list includes:
- Flat Writing
- Empty Adverbs
- Phony Dialogue
- No-Good Suffixes
- The “To Be” Words
- Show, Don’t Tell
- Awkward Phrasing
911 Writer’s Block: An interactive site to help you break writer’s block. Press a number for help with a particular area of writing. Exercises include: settings, characters, dramatic entrances, dialogue, commiserate, verbs, calisthenics, killing off a character, endings, and more.
*image retrieved from associatedcontent.com, credit to Writer’s Association