Author Spotlight : Dyane Forde

Thanks to Dianna Gunn for this great interview! Author Spotlight: Dyane Forde.

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How Tackling the Dreaded Synopsis Helped Me

The dreaded synopsis.

Yeah, I said it.

I mean, who decided to curse the humble writer with the necessity of creating such a diabolic thing? I haven’t met anyone yet who enjoys writing them, and most people I speak to don’t know how, or struggle to get something decent on the page.

There’s a lot of information out there on how to write one. My issue has always been not knowing how to organize my ideas. What do I include and what do I leave out? When an editor someone asks for a 1 page synopsis and my book is 75k words, how do I whittle it down without missing something important???? Isn’t everything important???

Well, yesterday I gave the thing another shot but only because I had to. Someone had posted that a publishing company publishing big names was accepting submissions and guess what? They require a synopsis.

From the film Psycho

From the film Psycho

So, I searched the Internet and found some great articles, which I will list later. The difference this time, I think, is that these articles broke down the process step by step, added essential bullet questions to focus the thought processes, and added a checklist to be used before the final draft. I pulled what I needed from them and then started to build the synopsis. Cutting the manuscript from 75k to 1.5K was actually much simpler than expected once I applied the tips/notes to a synopsis I’d written years ago. I ended up with something that is the closest I’ve ever had to a decent synopsis.

But that’s just the beginning. Some of you know that I don’t lay out my stories from beginning to end before I write them. My stories and books are exploratory for me, and I like setting out with nothing more than the barest of information to see where I end up. I rarely take notes, and if I do I almost never look at them again. They serve mostly to answer some problem or to clarify an immediate issue. Some people like a cluttered desk, I prefer a cluttered creative mind. To me, once something goes down on paper, the idea loses their luster. So I just take things one step at a time, teasing and developing threads and inspirations as they come. That said, retracing my steps and making sense of what essentially came from chaos is a major challenge, and that’s where the synopsis is a game changer.

It’s amazing how a story that was crystal clear when it was written can fade over time. As I wrote the synopsis for The Purple Morrow, the foundation of the trilogy became clear to me again. As I responded to the questions about the characters’ main conflicts, wrote summaries for the key players and their motivations, defined the stakes, and wrote about how the story concluded, it was like digging through mud and laying hands on a precious stone. In fact, I was relieved to know that despite being born of clutter, the overarching plot and subplots were clear throughout the three books. For example, I was able to see their birth and growth from book 1 to 2 (Wolf’s Bane). Also, the process revealed plot-lines that need development as well as outright plot holes that needed to be dealt with in book 3 (Berserker).

So, what do you think? What’s your take on synopsis writing? What resources have you found helpful? You can post links below to help others visiting the page.

Resources:

Jane Friedman: http://janefriedman.com/2011/10/25/novel-synopsis/

Fiction Writer’s Connection: http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-synopsis.html

Writer’s Relief: http://writersrelief.com/blog/2013/01/5-common-synopsis-mistakes-that-fiction-writers-make/

Thanks for reading!

Author Feature Hosted by Maggie Tideswell

Maggie Tideswell posted my author feature on her blog today, and it came out great! If you want to know why I write fantasy, what it means to me, and my goals in writing my stories, check it out here: Trust me, it’s worth it!

dyane

Also, check out Maggie’s author feature on Dropped Pebbles here:

Author Feature: Maggie Tideswell, Paranormal Romance Author

Mom

Please welcome Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author, to Dropped Pebbles! Today she stops by to share on a subject that’s close to her heart, a piece she entitled… 

I love the paranormal romance genre! 

Let’s face it, love really is all around us and it is love, not money, that makes the world go round. Even when you read a murder mystery or a horror novel, there are romantic elements in it, because people fall in love all over the place and in any kind of a setting. People find each other in the most unexpected or dangerous situations. It is human nature.

People want to be scared. Fear gets the primitive fight or flight response going. And that is where the paranormal comes in. When I say paranormal, I don’t mean zombies and vampires. Creatures with tentacles and many teeth also don’t interest me. Those are not scary and only have entertainment value as far as I am concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I am not putting authors of those genres down, all I’m saying is that those elements are not what I write about. I am interested in what isn’t visible to the eye, things that go bump in the night, ‘nothing is as it seems’, and witches getting up to mischief or doing genuine work to help. And ghosts, of course.What fascinates me about romance is firstly what characteristics attract people to each other enough to fall in love and secondly, what traits keep them in love for a lifetime when one in three relationships fail. This is the mechanics behind relationships, a throw-back from studying psychology at university.

We all have those creepy little experiences of something moving just at the edge of your vision and when you turn to look, there is nothing there. Or the sound we hear for which there are no logical explanations. And who of us haven’t known what was going to happen next or what somebody was going to say, before it actually happened? This is what is termed déja-vu.

paranormal

People are not always what they seem. It is a known fact that people represent themselves in the best light and what they show to the world is only the tip of the iceberg of their personality. I like to say people wear ‘masks’ to hide their true selves from others, for reasons of their own.

But my biggest interest is ghosts and why some people seem to get stuck on the earthbound plane after death. I even joined a paranormal investigation group, but I am yet to come face to face with a ghost I could have a conversation with. I have been told I look too hard and that was why I am unlikely to see a ghost, but I do experience them. On one occasion I had fallen asleep on the couch and I startled awake with the distinct feeling that somebody was leaning over me. There was nobody there, but the room had been freezing. It was the middle of summer.

Romance in combination with the paranormal is what I write. Instead of placing my characters in mortal danger of burning buildings, an erratic gunman or in the path of a tidal wave, I scare them with what they cannot see.

Cover - CoupleThe first book in my new series about bridesmaids, weddings and honeymoons was published on 1 July 2015. In The Run-Away Couple, it is more Piper’s perception of Marcus that was a bit skewed. To her he was a nuisance because that was how she got to know him growing up. When she thought of Marcus at all, it was to anticipate his next humiliating prank. And now Piper’s sister appointed her and Marcus to be maid-of-honor and best-man at her wedding. Disaster, for Piper at least. And of course there are things happening that scared the whatnot out of Piper. Would it be better for her to keep Marcus with her and risk another prank, rather than being alone?

Want to know more about Maggie Tideswell and her books? Have a look here:

http://maggietideswell.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/LunaMags

Talking Pets – A Flash For The Freestyle Writing Challenge

It has been a while since I posted any writing. The reasons for that are many, but the main two are 1) I’ve been submitting some of the more recent pieces to magazines and whatnot, and 2) I’ve been working like a beast to finish the draft of the third book in my Papilion trilogy (IT IS DONE!). And…I amidt that the fact summer is finally here after a long and horrible winter has lulled me into a kind of comfortable laziness.

But just this morning I was thinking it was time to get back to writing something, anything. Someone was listening because about an hour ago I got tagged by Tanya Miranda to participate in the Freestyle Writing Challenge.

freewritingchallenge

It’s scary to post something written so quickly and under duress (15 minutes with little prep time and not allowed to edit!!), especially while being so rusty. The last thing I wrote was a novel, so massaging the muscle to ease back to flash fiction was tough. But, whatev. When the challenge is laid, you gotta step up to the plate. So here’s my ditty.

Tanya’s prompt: Your pet of many years suddenly speaks human. What does it say?

My story: Communion

I’d always wondered what my dog would say if he could talk. We’d been inseparable for what felt like an eternity. A gift to me on my fifteenth birthday, Pongo warmed my feet every night and blissfully licked me awake every morning. He followed me to the kitchen, sat by my side while I ate, calmly awaiting the scraps of egg or toast or bacon I’d cunningly flip at him when I thought he wasn’t looking. He caught the scraps every time.

I grew up, went to CEGEP. My body and face changed, and even my mother claimed she hardly recognized the well over six-feet tall grown man with a face full of hair, and a deep barrel-chest. But Pongo knew me. Mom said he’d sit by the window long before I returned each day from long hours of study, whimpering and whining before the car turned into the drive. Walking into the house to Pongo’s excited yips while he dumped a red ball in my hand in greeting were the best welcomes around.

Got married. Had a couple a kids. But now, I saw that Pongo was getting on in age. His habits didn’t change except he took longer and longer to get them done. His silky black and brown coat shone less in the sun during our walks, and I even noticed some tufts of grey coming in around his brows and muzzle, just like a ‘real’ old man.

Then one day, while sitting on the porch, my hand on his head, his muzzle in my lap, I noticed his breathing coming less and less even. In fact, he struggled to breathe. I knew it was close, yet didn’t know what to do.

The sun was going down then, dipping just behind the line of houses across the street. And just as the roofs eclipsed the last rays of sunlight, I heard, ‘I love you.’

Then he was gone.

I looked at my beloved dog, best of friends. He was at rest.

Don’t know how he did it, how he’d managed to speak those words. But on the other hand, I wasn’t surprised. I’d known the truth all along because Pongo had saying he loved me his entire life.

****

There you have it. 370 words in 15 minutes. Here are my chosen victims, er, nominees…

Phil Partington

Cairo Amani

Belinda Hughes

Lela Markham

Scott Toney

My Prompt is: Falling down the rabbit hole…

And here are the rules for the challenge:

  1. Open a new document.
  2. Set a stopwatch or your mobile phone timer to 5, 10, or 15 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!
  4. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it’s only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
  8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).

Thanks for reading! Leave your comments below, if you’d like to share your thoughts.  🙂