I sent out 12 partials to Thrillerfest agents this week. They were for two different books, one is my gaming/military thriller, Deadly Mistake, and the others for my mystery/thriller, Blind Power, about a blind woman who’s able to see again after a researcher invents an electronic solution.
The rejection I got was for Blind Power. So the bad news was that it was a rejection. The good news was that I got a very detailed explanation about why the agent didn’t like it. Not enough tension in the first 50 pages. And you know what? He’s right.
Just because I can write a very detailed description about how something works, doesn’t mean I should at the beginning of the book. That’s what I did on this version. I need to suck the reader into the conflicts first, then explain how they got there.
OK, so that was the bad news. The good news is that I know exactly what to do, and while it won’t be easy, it’s not a complete rewrite either.
I want to get started on the next one, but I think I am going to take the time to give this one another shot, and then move on.
There’s a first time for everything, and it’s my turn at writing a synopsis. This is actually a good thing. It means that an agent is interested in seeing more. It means that I somehow got their attention. It doesn’t mean things will go any further, but that’s the next hurdle.
Writing a synopsis is actually a lot harder than I thought. It’s like a query letter in that it has it’s own unique style. It’s basically another hurdle that a writer has to jump over on the way to publication. It might seem contrived, but agents use this for two reasons.
- To get an overview of the manuscript, to see if they like the story
- To see if the writer can write one – similar to the check to see if the writer can create a good query. If you can’t write a query how can you be a writer? If you can’t write a synopsis, how can you be a good writer? Yes, it seems contrived, but it’s one more check to see if you are really ready to be a professional writer.
I talked to an agent at Thrillerfest and picked his brain on the style of a synopsis. It turns out it’s just like back cover copy of a book, with one big difference. The back cover copy is meant to be a teaser, relaying just enough information to get the reader excited enough about a story, so that they want to read more.
The synopsis is in the same style as the back cover copy, present tense, presenting a flavor of the story, but also includes the main plot, subplot, main characters, plot twists, and the ending. That is the hard part, taking a 400 page story and condensing it down to two pages without sounding silly. Even some of the most famous works when condensed to a few sentences, sound silly.
I would love to put up the finished product when it’s done, but I don’t want to ruin the story for you, when it gets published.
I wrote up my Thrillerfest happenings on the author blog where you can find me every Monday.
Go check it out and let me know what you think.
It was hard to top yesterday at Thrillerfest, but I did. One of the early sessions was a panel with David Morrell and Joseph Finder (one of my idols). First I got to spend more time with David Morrell talking planes and plane stories. Then I offered him a copy of my airplane thriller, and he gleefully took it. I emphasize the gleeful part, because I thought for sure that he would probably take it, but never really look at it again. But no, he wanted me to actually sign it…. Ummm Ok…..
I can’t imagine if he will actually read it, and do something with it. (be careful what you wish for…)
Later in the day I got to sit in a panel that included three CIA employees, not really secret agents, but they couldn’t tell me some stuff or they’d have to kill me……
At one point it was me, the CIA agent dude, and author Steve Martini talking in the hallway about different plot scenarios. That was so cool.
If you ever get a chance to come to Thrillerfest, do it.
I really will try to write more details once I get back home as this conference sucks the life out of you like (what’s her name) of the Xmen.
Another great day. Got to meet James Rollins, Gayle Lynds, Albert Zuckerman (OMG, OMG, OMG….. look him up), and had a really good session from Donald Maass on how to make your villain more scary. It was really good, no, I mean REALLY GOOD.
Author David Morrell just got his pilot’s license, so I got to chat with him for 10 minutes about airplanes. It was phenomenal.
Time for some sleep….
Today was actually called CraftFest and was mostly educational sessions. There were a couple of really good sessions by Lee Child and Lisa Gardner, both NY Times best selling authors.
I spent the afternoon polishing my pitch, because, well…. it sucked worse than a leaf blower in reverse. I got to work with John Land, yet another famous author that also works on Hollywood movies. I think he has more energy than the Energizer Bunny.
Met a lot of nice authors, all in my genre, which is just plain cool.
I’m anxious to meet the agents tomorrow. I’ll post up how it went later.
This last week a motorcycle rider friend of mine was injured in an accident with an 18 wheeler. It’s hard when someone you know gets hurt. It’s especially hard when you know that person was an expert at that skill.
My friend had been riding for years, and while she didn’t have zero incidents, the ones she had were relatively minor. This one, was not.
It’s interesting to see how other riders react to this situation.
Riders like to think that they are in control of their own destiny. Therefore, if something goes wrong, the other rider must have made a mistake. They don’t want to think about the situation where an accident occurs out of random chance, because that leaves them vulnerable. Riders like to think that as long as they remain vigilant, nothing bad will happen.
This situation is amplified when an expert rider has an incident. Noob riders wonder how the expert rider could have missed the warning signs and got into the accident. To the noobs, if it can happen to an expert, then the chance of it happening to them is almost guaranteed. The noobs have to assume that the expert rider made a huge mistake to justify the outcome. It isn’t good enough that random chance caught up to the expert, that’s just way too scary.
What I have found is that it usually isn’t a single mistake that causes a mishap. In fact it might not be any mistakes at all. Too many times I have seen a cascade of unrelated, seemingly innocuous events, that all fall together to create a bad outcome. Each of the events by themselves are innocent, but when they are strung together, they create an impossible situation, that not even an expert can overcome.
I don’t know if that is what happened to my friend or not. It doesn’t really matter. I just want to see her back on the road.