My Books

The Most Difficult Kind of Writing

January 31, 2017

 

Some time ago, in an effort to put a little fire under a friend of mine in her job hunt, I offered to help her with her resume. At which point, with uncommon honesty, she told me that I absolutely suck at writing resumes.

 

Huh.

 

I suppose I should have guessed given that when I applied to my current job with a contracting company, the recruiter sent my resume back to me with notes for improvement, and a sample resume from someone who actually knew what they were doing.

 

I also suck at writing synopses, also called blurbs, also called book descriptions. Whatever you call them, the point is that I suck at writing down what my books are about in ways that make people want to read them. It makes sense that I would suck at both book descriptions and resumes, because they're quite similar. They should be brief, clear, and intriguing. They should make someone feel that whatever is being sold to them, whether a book or a person, is what they or their organization needs.

 

After receiving Bryan Cohen's book, How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis, as a Christmas gift, I felt inspired to revamp my book descriptions. It was really, really hard. I'd like to go through a couple of examples, and hopefully you'll agree that I improved them. But, I could never have done it on my own, even with the help of Bryan's book. One thing he emphasizes is that you should get feedback on your synopsis before using it. I got feedback in two ways--from personal friends and from posting the synopsis to a Facebook book marketing group and asking for advice. I've rewritten or newly written four synopses in the last few weeks. The most eye-opening thing about the feedback stage, and the thing that really hammered home to me just how bad I am at writing these, was that several times I thought a synopsis  was already great before I asked for feedback and then it was completely ripped apart. The sign of true incompetence is not knowing that you're bad at something.

 

Anyway, here are a couple examples of synopses that I updated:

 

Goblin Fruit--So as I've clearly stated, I'm no expert on these, but what I hope changed between the original and the replacement was that the story became a lot clearer with fewer superfluous, confusing details, and it became more personal, emphasizing the high stakes situation that the main characters must deal with. The change between the first draft of the replacement and the final draft was relatively minor, basically getting rid of the first sentence, but I think it made a huge difference in how understandable it was.

 

Original: What if the "drug epidemic" actually WAS an epidemic? What if you could catch an addiction as easily as you catch the stomach flu? What if the drug you wanted more than anything in the world would turn you into a zomibie, able to move and eat, but not think? 16-year-old Clara's mother is a catatonia patient, a.k.a. zombie. So is Audrey's brother. Together, they're desperate to find a cure before it's too late. Their only clues are in the 150 year old poem, "Goblin Winter."

 

First Draft Replacement: Clarity lives in a zombie hospital with her father, a doctor, and her mother, a zombie. When Clarity was just a baby, a drug turned her mother into a Catatonic, a mindless, shuffling shell of a person, a "Zombie." Although, Clarity likes helping her father take care of his patients, it's not easy making friends when you live with zombies.

 

Clarity finds an ally in Audrey, a girl filled with grief and guilt over her recently zombiefied brother. Soon after the girls meet, Clarity starts to see goblins and fears she may be losing her mind. To make matters worse, her mother's condition begins to rapidly deteriorate. She's dying.

 

With nothing but a cryptic clue from the poem, "Goblin Market," Clarity and Audrey will risk their lives to cure the zombies they love.

 

Final Draft After Feedback:  When Clarity was just a baby, a drug turned her mother into a Catatonic, a mindless, shuffling shell of a person; a "Zombie." Although Clarity likes helping her father take care of her mother,it's not easy making friends when you live with a zombie.

 

Clarity finds an ally in Audrey, a girl filled with grief and guilt over her recently zombiefied brother. Soon after the girls meet, Clarity starts to see goblins and fears she may be losing her mind. To make matters worse, her mother's condition begins to rapidly deteriorate. She's dying.

 

With nothing but a cryptic clue from the poem, "Goblin Market," Clarity and Audrey will risk their lives to cure the zombies they love.

 

A Singular Second--This is a brand new science fiction book that I hope will be out quite soon. As such, there's no original. When I asked for feed back on my first draft, it was pointed out to me that my three paragraphs don't seem very connected to each other, and it's unclear what Derek and Carlton have to do with the disaster. I decided just to focus on the main character, which made it a lot more understandable and relateable (I hope!)

 

First Draft: In the not too distant future, Carlton, a monk, walks into a bar and meets the girl of his dreams. He isn't about to let some pesky vows keep him from pursuing a relationship with her. But his membership in a religious order is the one thing that's keeping him safe. He owes a lot of money to dangerous people, and if the other monks reject him, his creditors will use violence to collect.

 

Derek, a high school student, is stunned when his crush walks into class completely naked. Thanks to the virtual reality contact lenses his classmates are wearing, he is the only one who sees her nudity. He thinks he's the luckiest guy in the world, but the girl's possessive, rich, and powerful boyfriend plans to turn Derek's dream-come-true into a nightmare.

 

A prisoner is interrogated by a disembodied voice and shown evidence of a great disaster about to befall the world. Carlton, Derek, and the entire planet may be hurtling toward destruction. If you like dystopian sci-if with a humorous twist, this book is for you.

 

Final Draft:  Derek, a scholarship student at a ritzy high school, is stunned when his crush walks into class completely naked. Thanks to the virtual reality contact lenses his classmates are wearing, he is the only one who sees her nudity. He thinks he's the luckiest guy in the world, until the girl's possessive, rich, and powerful boyfriend turns Derek's dream-come-true into a nightmare.

 

Hurt, humiliated, and having lost the hope of a brighter future, Derek contemplates revenge against his cruel classmates and the uncaring school administration. But when he hears a mysterious voice telling him not to go through with his plan, Derek realizes that someone is sending him messages directly to his brain. Derek's decision whether or not to follow the voice's direction may have far greater implications than a simple conflict with a schoolyard bully.

 

 

What do you think? Am I getting better? I hope so. In my writing career, it seems like the better I get at things, the more I realize just how bad at them I am. That may be an exaggeration, but it seems like I'm constantly barraged with another thing I need to change, or try, or improve. It can be overwhelming, but I try to take one step at a time, and do what I can when I can.

 

Speaking of which, I just did something I've been procrastinating. I made a Patreon account so that if you'd like to support my writing with small monthly pledges and get some great perks in return, you may. (I figure that the writing I had to do for my Patreon page will improve with time, too. Alas, its another example of the very kind of "selling yourself" writing that I've just demonstrated I'm terrible at.)

 

Here's the link to my BRAND NEW PATREON.

 

And check out my BOOKS.

 

And here's a link to a RANDOM PREVIOUS BLOG POST.

 

Please reload

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Subcribe
Recent Posts

February 11, 2018

Please reload

Search By Tags
Please reload

Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic

FOLLOW ME

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

© 2023 by Samanta Jonse. Proudly created with Wix.com

This site was designed with the
.com
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now