12-Hour NaNoWriMo Write-In at Visual Arts Center

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Sweet Indulgences: Writing Food, Drink, and Romance

February 23rd, 2012

The Writing Show

Thursday, February 23, 2012


 by Troy Howell


 Kind words from panelist Andrew Fox


Maureen EganMaureen Egan is a Richmond-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Washington PostThe Christian Science Monitor,Virginia Living, and elsewhere. Since 2003 she’s written the “At Home” column in RHOME. In 2010 she wrote Insiders’ Guide to Richmond for Globe Pequot Press, adding her quirky take on RVA. She and a partner started Real Richmond, LLC, a food tour business, to help folks navigate RVA’s cuisine and culture. Her blog, Nothing Ever Happens on My Blog, says it all – almost. (more…)

Shelf Life: How Savvy Authors Woo Booksellers & Readers

February 15th, 2012

On Thursday, January 26th, James River Writers presented “Shelf-Life: How Savvy Authors Woo Booksellers & Readers.” Attendees gleaned insights into the many ways books travel from publishers to bookstore shelves, and came away with tips on the ins and outs of the bookselling industry. (more…)

To Make a Long Story Short: Writing a Synopsis That Sells

February 15th, 2012

Ironically, the subject of the May 2012 Writing Show — “To Make a Long Story Short: Writing a Synopsis That Sells” — is challenging to discuss in brief. A record number of attendees came to the Children’s Museum of Richmond to hear a seasoned agent from New York and an accomplished author address the challenges of writing synopses. The panelists were Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management and novelist Stacy Hawkins Adams, and the moderator was Bill Blume, an enthusiast of the fantasy genre.

For the first half of the program, the panelists discussed the difference between queries, synopses, and outlines. A synopsis presents the “movement” of the book. It should reveal the general direction of the plot, the themes, and the development of the characters, and it always gives away the ending. It should also reflect the writer’s voice. In contrast, an outline is an in-depth tool to aid the writer.

Adams noted that the standard format for a synopsis is reminiscent of academic writing: 12-point, double-spaced Times New Roman, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

The second half of the program was devoted to critiquing synopses submitted ahead of time. As Blume read each one, the panelists offered useful advice for both the authors and the rest of the audience:

  • Skip the set-up and go right to the conflicts in the story.
  • Describe how the tension builds. What events drive the plot forward?
  • Provide context: Why should readers care about the world you have created and its characters?
  • Show, not tell. Reading the synopsis should mimic reading the book.

Melanie Carter, JRW Intern, and Charles Gerena

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