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Cynnara
March 20th, 2009, 06:26 PM
The essence of the story- and no, it’s not a synopsis!

My stories come to me in the form of movie trailers that hint at what a movie is about. They’re vivid, intense and they grab my attention from whatever else I’m doing. When I jot the story idea down, that’s when the trailer leads into the opening sequence of the story. This is why I find myself writing the first chapter or so of the book before I do anything else. How can I use that movie trailer to work for my writing? If you’ve ever read the back of a book before you bought it- then you’ve read a movie trailer. That’s right; we’ve come to turning our loose idea with hints of what will happen to a fully fledged blurb to hook the reader’s attention. It’s time to get to the essence of our story to give us a framework for our characters.

Many writers that plot will write a synopsis either before; during or after plotting their novel but before they write it. I’m not one of them. I hate writing a synopsis before the story is written and don’t want to do it after it’s written either. To me, it’s nothing but a reduced version of the story I’m telling and I shouldn’t have to tell it twice.

Yet, a blurb is different and very necessary to both my writing the story and to selling it. The differences between the two are night and day to me. I might write my book without a synopsis, but I’d never write it without my blurb! The blurb is a quick look at the story with a hook to make you want to know more. A synopsis is a lean, bare bone story with no dialogue and covering GMC and how things play out.

I know you’re wondering how blurbs have anything to do with role-playing games. The truth is that those blurbs are what make up not just the back of the module, but how the modules that your characters go through are built upon. More importantly, when you’re sitting there as a player character, the DM oftentimes reads a small blurb giving you basic details of scene and setting before allowing you to begin your journey or even during certain parts of it. It’s what helps you to let go of the here and now and see what will happen next through the eyes of the character.

So let’s talk about blurbs. Blurbs–they can get people reading or they can make people pass on by. Yes, many will tell you that a good cover alone is the be-all, end-all of your book hooking readers. Yet, there are those who think a good blurb is the ultimate point on where you can gain a reader or lose one. So, how do you write a blurb that hooks your attention without giving too much away?

First off, there are many kinds of blurbs, not just the one you often read on a back cover. I classify them as High Concept, Back Cover, and the Query/Highlight blurbs. Each of these has a place within publishing both for non-published and published authors. Once you know the basic requirements to write each kind, you’ll find that it becomes second nature to you to have each type ready. Let’s look at the High Concept blurb first since it’s the shortest, and in some ways, the easiest to write.

What does High Concept mean? Simply put, high concept blurbs use already well-known items–books, movies, phrases– together in combination to showcase the essence of your story. An example is how Gene Roddenberry billed Star Trek to the Desilu executives. He called it “Horatio Hornblower among the stars.” This concept caught the executives’ attention and asked him to explain more about it. Another example is my story called Argent Valkyrie. I call it “Manchurian Candidate meets Star Wars with a twist.” If you’re familiar with what the stories are about–you then can see the essence of the story being spoken about. You’re linking familiar themes in a way to give the core gist in less than a minute and have it stick.

So, how do you write a high concept blurb? Sit down with your story–finished or not, and ask yourself a few questions like: What does this story say in general terms? What movie/book/TV show does this story remind you of? (It can be more than one or two.) Is part of the story the reverse of a story that is out somewhere? By asking yourself these questions, you can now put together a one sentence high concept blurb. Play with it, refine it, and watch a few movies or shows to capture the feel of your story better. By having this high concept blurb–we’re ready for the next stage: Back Cover Blurb.

Assignment--- Create a High Concept Blurb for your story idea and post it here.

Red Dragon
March 21st, 2009, 12:28 AM
Hi Cynnara,
Here's my High Concept Blurb:

Scheherazade becomes Miss Marple.

I'm not sure it has the medieval flavour I would have liked, but I can't think of any famous female storytellers of that era or famous female detectives. Nevertheless, it's a start.
Rusty.

Another thought:
Hildegarde of Bingen meets the Scarlet Pimpernel<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>

Cynnara
March 21st, 2009, 01:21 PM
Great start, Rusty. In fact, what's nice is that people will think...a sexy storyteller becomes a detective. Nice touch. Very nice.

Mine--- Pirates of the Caribbean meets Star Wars. *grins*

Red Dragon
March 21st, 2009, 04:36 PM
Hi Cynnara,
Thanks.
I like your blurb. It has a cheeky, scary, romantic science fiction feel. Romantically otherworldly. :)

Cynnara
March 21st, 2009, 05:50 PM
Yuppers. What's fun is I could throw in another reference to give it more of a feel. Pirates of the Caribbean meet Star Wars and The Ship Who series with a touch of Treasure Planet. Now you get a bit more of the feel for the storyline-- wondering what aspects will show in it and which might not. You don't have to limit yourself to just 2 aspects, but it does help to get the gist across.

Jeanne Vincent
March 25th, 2009, 04:13 AM
One of those light bulb moments! I finally came up with a High Concept: Murder She Wrote meets American Idol. It doesn't fit my current WIP, but no matter. I think I finally understand the idea of a high concept. And yes, it really is 4:12 am. LOL

Red Dragon
March 25th, 2009, 07:12 AM
I like your High Concept Jeanne,
Murder, puzzle, rivalry, jealousy, youth, music, talent or lack thereof, theatical setting - gosh, it has everything.
You are certainly a night owl. (your 4:12am showed up as 7:12pm (Wed.) on my screen in Australia) Now it is 10:am here and I'm ready for bed.

Rusty

Cynnara
March 25th, 2009, 11:26 AM
Fantastic, Jeanne! The idea is simple when it comes to High Concept-- two themes that help give the essence of your story-- even if there are other tidbits involved. *tosses confetti*

Rusty...you need sleep, woman! Then again, if I lived in the land of Oz...I'd be out doing something like...seeing Ayres Rock or some other cool thing. *sigh* I wanna go to Oz one day. But I might not come home if I do. LOL

lavagrl
March 25th, 2009, 07:41 PM
Okay, I'm going to try a high concept blurb for my book.

Like Anita Blake meets Harry Potter.

Cynnara
March 25th, 2009, 07:52 PM
Nice, Lavagrl! To me, it makes me think-- darker alternate earth with magick and learning involved. So tell us a bit more about the story now. Do the cover blurb!

Red Dragon
March 25th, 2009, 09:27 PM
I wanna go to Oz one day. But I might not come home if I do. LOL

You mean you might get taken by a dingo or a croc or a redback or a copperhead? lol. Do you still want to come? :)

BTW I'm sorry to be misleading. I accidentally wrote 10 am when I meant 10:00pm. Funny though, as it happened, I didn't go to sleep at all. Had a bit of an upset from a neighbour who -- lets say objected --because we want to put up a boundry fence. Very unsettling. Oh well, I should sleep tonight. It's good to have writing to take the mind of unpleasantness in real life and transfer it to fiction. All experiences are 'subject matter' to the writer, aren't they. :)
Rusty.

Cynnara
March 26th, 2009, 01:49 PM
Definitely. Writing helps one to be a bit more...laid back when dealing with people. I have a shirt I wear when I'm in one of my moods-- "Keep it up and you'll be in my next book- dead." It seems to work. LOL

Red Dragon
March 27th, 2009, 12:09 AM
lol.
Thanks, I needed that.
Rusty.

Cynnara
March 27th, 2009, 01:19 PM
One of the biggest things I can seriously recommend for anyone who wants to be published-- never give up and give yourself CREDIT. You've written something, finished something, had something rejected- you're AHEAD of all those who've never done ANY of those things. Celebrate! Buy yourself a shirt dealing with writing. YOU ARE A WRITER. Any of you taking this workshop, you're showing that you want to take those steps to be published. Let me tell you-- my journey to being published wasn't easy but it also wasn't as hard as it could have been for me.

I've written all my life. Hell, I found writing that I did as a kid at my parental units' home when my mom died. Stuff and stories that I had written as a child. When I was teen- I was the geek, the computer brain, the one who knew everything-- and I was writing action adventure with romance long before I knew my own full sexuality. Even after being raped, I STILL wrote.

Then I got married in 1990. He wasn't...conducive to me writing. So, I did what any other person would've done- I read. I watched movies, I had a journal that I jotted things down in. Then in 1999, I moved to Florida-- with the idea of him coming down. Which is when hell broke loose and I knew I was getting divorced. As I was drowning myself in more books, my kids talked about what they wanted to do when they grew up-- and I realized- they were settling for what they thought was more possible, not their true dreams. I realized I had to make mine to show them that they could make theirs.

So in 2000, I began the writing to get published. A LOT of false starts, a lot of research, a LOT of workshops and books and an occasional college course. In 2001, I finished writing my first story-- and had Silhouette request it. Now, it was a paranormal-- before they allowed paranormal elements in-- but the editor, Lovely Leslie, as I call her-- gave me a chance. Had I been able to reduce the gods in the book, they might've taken it. But it was a start-- I had my first rejection- I was on my way.

In 2003, I had gone to Writers Weekend, a fantastic writers retreat/conference for those interested in romance and in sci-fi/fantasy. I met some great editors, some awesome agents, and people whom I consider good people and mentors. At the end of that, someone told me that they were opening up a publishing company and to submit something to them. So I did....and I sold my first book.

What you need to know though is this-- between 2001 and 2003, I realized the true market and future of books was going to start and BE in epublishing. Little did I know once I got published, there would be a chance to bridge from epublishing to print publishing. No, I wasn't lucky enough at that time (I had a breakdown) to be one of those lucky ones-- BUT at the same time- I did receive interest and asked to submit to a few places that loved my ebooks. For which I'm grateful.

What does this mean for you? Don't give up- find your voice- find a way to write more, write better, and develop your own following- and definitely take yourself to ebooks first-- if it's viable for your writing and genre! Why? It's the wave of the future-- and with specialized POD prints that various ebook publishers are doing-- you can be in print as well!

*climbs off soapbox* Now-- where were we? LOL

Eva Lefoy
March 27th, 2009, 04:57 PM
Cynnara,

I'm still in the totally confused stage of novel writing. I'm better with the short stories. But some day, the light may switch on. It's probably different for everybody.

Cynnara
March 27th, 2009, 05:02 PM
Right now, short stories and novellas are wanted. If you can write them--- DO SO! Changeling Press and other places take anything between 8k and 28k. That means IF you've got something smoking and rocking- you've got a chance to make a go of it. Give yourself a chance. Don't worry about writing long- just write as it comes. Eventually, you'll learn to add in subplots and other GMC stuff to lengthen the stories further for a deeper storyline.

Eva Lefoy
March 28th, 2009, 01:15 AM
OMG, that is so like a load off my shoulders – a novel-sized load that is, to be exact.


Maybe right now in my writing “career” (coughs distinguishedly) I’m not really a novel writer. Maybe I’m more suited to the ss format. After all, as a reporter I already write that way for a living.
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Does that mean I can quit following all those NY book agents on Twitter now? (What a relief!!!)
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BTW, I took your advice and checked out Changeling Press. It looks like the stories they publish are pretty diverse and I saw a couple of author names I recognized on there too. So…maybe that’s not such a bad route to go, eh?
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Now that you went through all the hard work of showing us how to lay out a novel! But there’s no rule that I can’t apply the same plotting techniques to a ss is there?
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Thanks,
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Yakkity

Cynnara
March 28th, 2009, 01:18 PM
Oh gods, plotting out a short story or novella is even EASIER! You limit yourself to one or two GMC points-- one for each character-- and then use the same points I showed you-- plug them in.

Honestly-- build yourself the epublishing route first. Get your reader base and then make your way to NY. Angela Knight, Morgan Hawke, Vivi Anna, Michelle Bardsley and more ALL started that way. In fact, it provided NY with a reader base that they didn't have. Honestly the other thing about epublishing is this-- you'll find that your stories that aren't ready for NY-- because NY isn't up to speed on things-- WILL find homes in the epublishing field. They're more open to various ideas, not just one. They're willing to be the ones to SET the trend, not jump in mid-bandwagon. It makes writing for them a freeing experience.

And since you ARE a reporter-- here's a special hint- use your reporter abilities within your storyline. Think about "How Much for Just the Planet?" ST book. They had section of fake "articles" within the story to help give information without having to info dump it to the reader. That gives you a special talent not all of us have!

Eva Lefoy
March 28th, 2009, 03:13 PM
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Cynnara,
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So, you are saying, use the same story structure as above? Just make it shorter?


Is there a certain length that a work has to be in order to include all the above items? Is there a minimum?
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I find that my ss’s are less plotted and more situational and centered around internal conflicts for the POV character. Would you suggest expanding that?
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For me, the whole NYC thing is scary! I didn’t know that Hawke had started out in e-publishing, but that is heartening news. I’m thinking of ordering her book off Amazon. The cheater’s way to write romance. Maybe I can find some good plot ideas for ss in there.
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Dang! I looked, but don’t have that particular ST book. Was it TNG or TOS? (sounds like a TOS title to me) I’ll have to buy that one. I like the idea of using newspaper articles for story feeds. It would be good for foreshadowing, I think. Especially since the third estate tells everybody only half the story! :)
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Thanks for the suggestions.
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Yakkity

Cynnara
March 28th, 2009, 04:53 PM
TOS-- be warned the book is HYSTERICAL!

Notice on the turning points-- how there are 8 of them. In a shorter story-- you can condense them down to 5-6 if not down to 4. The idea here-- set it up, have only one major point to be resolved that's reflected in BOTH characters, then hit the black moment and resolution all in one. *grins* It sounds tough-- BUT-- it's easier now that you know the general properties of GMC.

Think of it like this-- you have a character who wants the love of a lifetime- but is scared silly of the idea of only having ONE person to have as a soulmate. You bring in another character who has had a lifetime or more of having all those people and finally only wants ONE. There's your instant GMC. He wants her- she's his One. She wants him, but she's afraid she'll miss the ONE if she settles without more experience. Boom, then you set up an opening that perhaps tells her-- the ONE is on the way-- perhaps a tarot reading? Then you have them meet, perhaps have some nookie, then part-- her trying to figure out if it was just sex or was there something to the reading. Him going-- she's the one. I can tell. The sex proves it. I can't let her go. Then you're ready to bring up the showdown and the resolution. Perhaps an old flame. Or someone who has the powers of seduction more so than the hero. Tada. Shorter novella, and able to rock and roll.

In a full length novel, you normally want to hit at least 2 GMC points for each major character...with shorter novels, you want at least 1 GMC per character and perhaps a second one that overlaps on them both. That way you have depth, but can use the others that border external rather than internal-- so you can use it to move the plot forward more.

Reduce the number of GMC points to shorten any story. You want to write longer, you add them in. The best way I have it set up-- 1 internal for every 2 external. So if you want a LONG book-- you might want 2 internal, 2 external and one that overlaps. That gives you at least 3 subplots you can work in the storyline. :D

Does that help at all?

Eva Lefoy
March 28th, 2009, 05:59 PM
Oh crap! For me, this class will be about how to add a couple more plot points to a short story then. Or three, to be exact. LOL.
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*goes back to the drawing board*
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But seriously, maybe if I learn to juggle four I can eventually learn to juggle 8 plot points. At least that’s more than I have.
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Thanks!
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Yakkity
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P.S. The cover is a hoot! Love that confused pursed-lipped Kirk look!

Cynnara
March 28th, 2009, 06:34 PM
Trust me, if you can read a couple of pages in it-- you'll just DIE. *snickers* It's one of my favourites. There are 2 books that don't have Kirk and company as the main characters, but they're HUGE influences on the characters. The first is Battleship and I can't remember the other one- but they have the characters of Piper and Perrin, another half-Vulcan. And one who has blonde hair. VERY good books if you can get a hold of them!


LOL some people need to learn to write longer, some need to learn to write shorter. Some people just need some guidance so they know what to add and when. It's all the fun when you're the writer. LMAO