Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ya Gotta Have A Gimmick

I've been humming that number from Gypsy where the other strippers give
advice to Gypsy Rose Lee before she goes out on stage the first time.
Sometimes I arbitrarily break out in show tunes, but this time there
was a good reason. I was working on the synopsis of my novel.

Somehow, I managed to write a good enough synopsis of Chaos Magic that the editors at Torquere Press asked to see the novel, and bought it, but I thought of that as a

From the way writers groan about the dreaded synopsis, I'm
convinced that writers secretly believe their MS gets accepted despite
the synopsis, not because of it. So even though I theoretically know
how to write one, I spent a lot of time reading advice on how to do it.
Every piece I read said, "You have to start with a hook." Thus the show

A synopsis is a selling tool that offers the editor the
distilled essence of the novel. But here's where it gets tricky. The
writer has to focus on the audience. If the editor buys romance, the
writer should emphasize the love story aspect. That might not be all
that's happening in the novel, but that's the market the writer is
aiming for. The same novel might be pitched to a publisher who buys
mysteries instead, so that version of the synopsis should dwell on the
mystery in the novel and downplay the romance angle.

I wrote the first draft of my synopsis without thinking about the audience
simply because I need to have something to polish before I could polish
it. I knew the first draft sucked, but it was a starting point. Since
then, I've been concentrating on the publisher and trying to decide
what approach is most likely to catch his eye. That's where the gimmick
comes in- hook him with a theme that I believe will interest him and
then give him the distilled essence of the story from that perspective.

I spent a lot of time today working on the hook and cleaning up my first
draft so that it doesn't suck so much. It still needs work, but I think
I finally found the right pitch.

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