Behind The Rewrite With Clarissa Gosling – How To Increase Word Count In A Novel

Behind The Rewrite With Clarissa Gosling – How To Increase Word Count In A Novel

how to increase word count in a novel

How do you increase the word count in a novel when the book is too short? In today’s Behind the Rewrite, author Clarissa Gosling gives us a glimpse into how she fleshed out her YA fantasy Dragon Shift during the editing process. Writing too short is an issue that many writers struggle with, especially after they trim the fat and tighten their sentences. Below, you can see how Clarissa handled this common problem.

Change #1: Add Description

I write short, so before I go through and line edit I have to add in more details. My first draft is a whizz through the story and what happens, but is incredibly light on description. I think this is because I often skim over any description when I’m reading, so the first thing I have to do is go through and sprinkle in descriptions of the characters and the settings. Having a clear picture of what my characters look like is often one of the last things I know about them, sometimes not til I’m fairly well into the editing process. The same for details of the settings. It is only when I’m going through to revise that I search online for images or details that I can use. And in every scene, I aim to include details from other senses as well as what it look like. This adds to the variety and makes it more immersive for the reader. For Dragon Shift, I also chopped the first two scenes from my first draft and the last five scenes to tighten the pacing.

Change #2: Add Emotion

As well as adding in description, I look for ways to add in emotion. I find The Emotion Thesaurus an invaluable resource for this as it gives so many options for ways you can show the emotion of your characters. And showing not telling is the maximum for good fiction. So for every scene I think about the emotions that the main characters are going through and how I can portray that through their actions. Do they bite their lip or cross their arms and frown? And adding in their body language helps to break up dialogue and make it clear who is speaking without saying he said, she said all the time. (Note from Stacy: Also check out my Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions e-book and mini course for another tool about body language and emotions.)

Change #3: Include Specific Fantastical Details

My story is an epic fantasy set in another world with shifters, dragons and magic, so I want to portray that through my word use. Terms for measuring time and distance, the way they talk about magic, etc, these all need to be consistent and some to be different from what we use in the real world. For example, in my story the main way they measure time is with water clocks, so I used the words drib, dram and drogue for increasing lengths of time. It is a reminder that their time measurement is dependent on water when their terms for time are also based on liquid measures. Then I hope that the way I use those words makes their meaning clear in the text. This is a way I can show that there are differences between my fictional world and our real one. These terms add flavour and interest in an easy way, though choosing them so that they are internally consistent with how your world works takes a lot of thinking. And you need to make sure you don’t overdo this. Choose which terms you want to change and then keep others the same so that you don’t overwhelm your readers.

Change #4: Check Consistency

As I go through my first draft I look for consistency. On a large scale this is consistency in things like Point of View. As I read through Dragon Shift, I realised I had started writing the story in first person, but after a few chapters I changed to close third. On going through to revise it, I decided to switch the first section to close third to keep it all the same.

On a smaller scale, this is looking at how things work and what I’ve called them. For example, the main mode of transport in my world, at least for those who can afford it, are magically powered barges that sail through the air. As I had written my first draft I had changed the names of these through the course of the story, so in revising I picked one term (floatship) and used that the whole time.

Change #5: Increase The Romance

Though the main change I had to make was increasing the romance in the story. My first draft went from her first impression of him as a “gangly, pimply boy, a couple of years younger than her,” through very little interaction, to a heartfelt and emotional scene at the end. (I can’t say more about the end scene without giving away too many spoilers.) Needless to say, he is now a couple of years older than her, a bit more attractive-looking, and I’ve elaborated on their relationship through the story as they get to know each other. There are now more scenes where they talk more and learn about each other, as well as showing how they interact during group scenes. Increasing the screen time for the two of them together automatically develops their relationship to, I hope, a level where the final scene is more believable rather than coming out of nowhere.

At least, this was my intention to do. If you are interested to see how well I managed this then read Dragon Shift, the first in my new YA Fantasy series.

Dragon Shift

Want To Read The Book?

Half-bear-shifter half-dragon in a world where dragons are thought extinct, Birgith must face the ultimate test of her shifting ability to be accepted as an adult in the Bear-shifter clan.

If Birgith manifests any sign that she has dragon blood, she will be killed immediately and her dragon family hunted, as they are feared by all four clans in the continent of Kaitstud. But when the test comes, she is unable to shift at all. So she is exiled and classed as a human, with all the restrictions on her that designation entails. Leaving behind everything she’s ever known, Birgith sets out on a perilous journey away from her forest home to make peace with her dual heritage. A journey to find her hidden dragon family. A journey that puts her life and theirs at risk. Or that will help her embrace who she truly is.

The first in an exciting new series for readers who love magic, adventure and strong female characters.

Buy it on Amazon.

More About Clarissa 

Clarissa has always lived more in the world of daydream and fiction than in reality. In her writing she explores purpose and belonging across worlds. Having never found her own portal to faeryland, she is resigned to writing about fantastical worlds instead. She now lives in the Netherlands with her family, where she writes as much as they will let her. When not reading or writing, she drinks too much tea and has a burgeoning obsession with Bundt cakes.

Visit her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

Gifts For Friends Who Love Writing, Work From Home, Or Yourself!

Gifts For Friends Who Love Writing, Work From Home, Or Yourself!

gifts for friends who love writing

I’m excited to announce that I have a brand new Amazon Influencer store featuring books and products for writers and entrepreneurs. They make great gifts for friends who love writing or who work from home—or for yourself! You’ll find journals, business planners, writing books, home office supplies and decor, tech gadgets and accessories, video and audio equipment, and products to help with the aches and pains that come from hunching over a computer all day. Headaches, eyestrain, backaches, neck aches, carpal tunnel—you’ll find suggestions for all of those ailments and more. I also shared some of my favorite “fun” products to decompress by myself or with my family.

You can check out the main storefront here. Please note that as an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through my links.

Below, I’ve included direct links to the various subcategories in my Amazon shop. I also embedded a series of three Show and Tell videos where I hold up some featured products that I own and do short reviews.

Let me know in the comments which products look the most interesting to you, if you’ve ever used any of these, or if you have suggestions for my lists. 

 

Main Storefront

Books for Writers

Home Office

Household Clutter Busters & Organization

Inspiration, Personal Development, & Journals

Technology, Gadgets, & Accessories

Business Books 

Planning & Productivity

Comfort and Health

Video and Audio Equipment

 Relaxing Hobbies & Games

Books I’ve Published

Again, you can find all of the products featured in the videos (and many more) in my Amazon store.  

Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

Discover The Ultimate Resource On Body Language For Writers

Discover The Ultimate Resource On Body Language For Writers

body language for writers

If you’re tired of conjuring up fresh ways to describe a gaze, smile, or sigh in your fiction, then I’ve got a resource on nonverbal communication and body language for writers that you might be interested in! I just released the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions, a 100-page printable toolkit jam-packed with more than 4,000 emotional phrases arranged into easy-to-digest lists.

  • Put the pages into a binder that you can pull out whenever you need help showing a character’s emotions.
  • Get inspiration when you’re stuck or scenes need more emotion. Use the phrases word-for-word, refine them, or mix & match.
  • Use the blank lines and print extra copies of the page template to add your own phrases and categories.

The toolkit includes:

Overview of nonverbal communication and body language.

Detailed written instructions and examples on how to use the cheat sheets.

A walk-through video.

More than 4,000 nonverbal prompts that span 21 categories and numerous subcategories.

See It In Action nonverbal snippets from published books.

Discussion questions that guide you through finding your strengths and weaknesses.

Bonus nonverbal communication video from the online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable.

The Energize Your Writing Toolkit is just $29. Watch the above trailer for a quick overview and purchase here.

 

Last Chance! Get Over $7,000 In Social Media Influencer Tools For $49!

Last Chance! Get Over $7,000 In Social Media Influencer Tools For $49!

social media influencerPlease note that I am an affiliate and receive a commission on sales. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was a great deal!

If you’re a published author with several books to promote, an entrepreneur, or a small business owner, you’ll want to explore the Social Media Influencer Super Stack.

Increase your reach, influence, and impact on social media with this hand-curated collection of cutting-edge tools and resources designed by industry insiders. ⁠You’ll learn strategies to master YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook Live, Facebook ads, hashtags, and more. You’ll also get trial subscriptions to several products so you can try out the ones that interest you and see if you’d like to make them part of your long-term strategy.

Total Retail Value: $7,253.87.⁠

Yours today for only $49. But hurry! The deal ends Tuesday, Dec. 1!⁠ You can take a walk-through tour of what to expect in the below video, which also reminds you that two other Cyber Monday deals are expiring very soon:

Writer’s Craft Stack 2.0 – Over $3,300 of writing courses and ebooks for $49. Deal ends 12/1
 
ProWritingAid Sale – 50 percent off lifetime license and 25 percent off annual license for this highly recommended grammar and style checker. Deal ends tonight, Nov. 30. New users who buy through my link can send me their receipt at stacy at stacyjuba.com for 3 bonuses.

Video Walk-Through Of Writer’s Craft 2.0 Bundle – 37 Products for $49

Video Walk-Through Of Writer’s Craft 2.0 Bundle – 37 Products for $49

Below is my 20-minute walk-through of the Writer’s Craft 2.0 Black Friday Super Stack – over $3,300 of courses for only $49! Craft the book of your dreams with this epic collection of 35+ step-by-step ecourses, writing masterclasses, bestselling ebooks, and planning software designed to help you transform your story idea into a page-turner readers will love.

I explain how this bundle came about, how it works, and go over the different products geared toward fiction writers and nonfiction writers. To make it less overwhelming, I talk about which products I recommend that you start with, depending on your level and genre. I also talk about sales for my own courses and how they tie into this bundle. I hope you find this helpful!

Check out the sale here before it disappears on Dec. 1!

Please note that I am an affiliate and receive a commission on sales. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was a great deal!

Video Walk-Through Of Writer’s Craft 2.0 Bundle – 37 Products for $49

Get Over $3,300 Worth Of #Writing Courses For Only $49! Ends 12/1 #Writers

Black Friday for writers
Black Friday has come early for writers! You don’t want to miss Writer’s Craft 2.0, an amazing bundle of tools, training and resources that will help you level up your writing. Craft the book of your dreams with this epic collection of 35+ step-by-step ecourses, writing masterclasses, bestselling ebooks, and planning software designed to help you transform your story idea into a page-turner readers will love.

Total retail value: $3,361.77

It’s yours today for only $49!

Just getting started and want to avoid costly mistakes? You’ll find a proven blueprint to turn your ideas into page-turning narrative here.

Been writing for a while, but lost the fire and passion you once had? You’ll find plenty of ways to re-ignite your love of creative writing (and make it more profitable than ever) inside here.

Or maybe you’re just looking to immerse yourself in the writing craft and learn the secrets of editors, instructors, and bestselling authors. 

Below are images showing just a few of the goodies you’ll find inside this bundle.

This deal expires on Tuesday, December 1st at 11:59pm EST. After that, the deal vanishes.

Click here to pick up your copy of Writer’s Craft 2.0 before it’s gone forever.

Please note that I am an affiliate and receive a commission on sales. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was a great deal!

Black Friday for writers
Buy ProWritingAid On Sale And Get My 3 Bonuses! #writingcommunity #writing

Buy ProWritingAid On Sale And Get My 3 Bonuses! #writingcommunity #writing

ProWritingAid Black Friday

I know a lot of you have been hoping ProWritingAid would hold their annual Black Friday sale this year and have been waiting to buy, just in case. I’ve got good news. It’s here, and they’re going big! And there’s more. If you’re a brand new user and purchase by clicking my affiliate link, and then forward me your receipt, I’ve got three bonuses for you.

Here are the details:

The sale is on now through Monday, Nov 30 at 11:59 PM PST. For any purchases made today or tomorrow, (Nov. 23 or 24) ProWritingAid will donate $5 per purchase to the Children’s Literacy Charity. So, if you know you want to take advantage of the sale, buy now and you can give to charity at the same time.

  • Lifetime licenses are 50% off.
  • Annual licenses are 25% off.

My bonuses for new ProWritingAid users who buy through my link and send me the receipt are:

1. My two-page Overused Words Cheat Sheet, a valuable tool otherwise only available to students in my online course Book Editing Blueprint. This resource will help you to find the overused words in your writing as well as the “padding words” that can be easily cut.

2. I’ll also send you a 42-minute tutorial video that teaches you how to use the Overused Words Cheat Sheet and unleash the power of ProWritingAid and Google Docs/Microsoft Word.

3. My ProWritingAid Cheat Sheet – To help you get up and running quickly, I compiled a cheat sheet of helpful links from the ProWritingAid website guiding you through the set-up and how to use my favorite features.

Okay, so those of you who have been waiting for this sale are probably clicking the link right now. If you’ve never heard of ProWritingAid before, or it sounds familiar but you’re not quite sure what it is, here are some FAQs below.

 

What is ProWritingAid and why is this sale a big deal?

It’s my favorite editing software, and is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. I’ve used the premium version for years and have corresponded with their support team as a customer and as an affiliate.

I am promoting this tool as ProWritingAid is an excellent supplement to my signature online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable, and it’s a resource that I recommend to my editing clients. It’s also great for college students and businesses. 

The sale is a big deal as they only drop their prices once, maybe twice, a year. As an affiliate, I can normally get you 20 percent off, but that’s obviously not as good as the Black Friday sale deal. 

Will it catch every mistake you make? No. It’s impossible for a software program to catch every error. Some manuscripts will still need a copyeditor and/or proofreader. Sometimes, ProWritingAid will even give you bad advice. It’s important to have basic grammar knowledge so you can make an educated decision whether to follow a recommendation or ignore it.

Despite these drawbacks, I still highly recommend ProWritingAid. It will catch many typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors, identify flabby and overused words, and do so much more. If you’re an author, it will help clean up the manuscript so your editors can do their jobs more efficiently, and it may cut down on your editing expenses.

Which plan should I get, annual or lifetime?

Think about how often you’ll use it. Are you a prolific author who churns out a couple books per year? Do you run a business? Are you a college student? Then maybe the lifetime ProWritingAid license would be a worthwhile investment. I found that paying a one-time fee for a lifetime license was a much cheaper alternative than renewing a subscription on an ongoing basis. Getting it now, for 50 percent off, is a fantastic deal!

I might be interested. What do I do next?

 It’s simple. Order through my link: https://prowritingaid.com/en/App/Purchase?afid=7663 Then forward your receipt to stacy@stacyjuba.com and I will send you my three bonuses.

Affiliate Disclaimer: If you purchase through my affiliate link, I will earn a commission on sales.

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

 

varied words

When I read Judy Penz Sheluk’s Behind the Rewrite post, I chuckled as boy, does it ring true! We all have crutch words and phrases that we rely on when we’re talking to others. It drives me crazy when I listen to myself in a podcast interview and hear myself say “you know.” Writers also have to worry about using crutch words in their books. One of my favorite, (okay, overused) words in my own fiction is “as.”  As a developmental editor, I’ve discovered that EVERY writer has their favorite overused words. Judy’s post is a great lesson for beginner writers and a terrific reminder for seasoned authors.

It was while golfing this past summer that I first noticed it. Every time one of my foursome hit an errant shot—and there were many—she’d say, “Are you kidding me?” At first, I found it amusing. After a while, I started counting the number of times she’d say it. I stopped at seventeen.

I remember thinking, at the time, that I could never get away with that in a novel. True, characters have quirks, and dialogue needs to be authentic, but too many “Are you kidding me’s” and the reader is going to find it distracting at best, and annoying at worst. 

That thought was firmly in my mind when I was rereading Where There’s A Will, the third and final book in my Glass Dolphin cozy mystery series, before sending out ARCs and getting the manuscript ready for my proofreader. 

Because I’d already read the book more times than I cared to remember, and because it had gone through four beta readers, I didn’t expect to find any instances of “Are you kidding me?” and I didn’t. What I did find was an inordinate number of “given this or that…” And when I say inordinate I mean twenty-nine. How had I missed those? How had everyone else?

Since the “givens” were scattered throughout the book, I’m going to share six examples, before and after. 

Example #1

Before: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life, given that she had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

After: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life. She had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

Example #2

Before: Emily had hesitated at first, given what she knew about the property’s history. How many people wanted to buy a house where the owner had been murdered, especially since the case had never been solved?

After: Didn’t change a word. Some “givens” are okay, and I thought it worked well in this instance.

Example #3

Before: Emily didn’t believe him, given that he was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

After: Emily didn’t believe him. He was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

Example #4

Before: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, given that she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

After: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, since she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

Example #5

Before: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, given enough time and perspective.

After: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, with enough time and perspective.

Example #6

Before: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence given this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

After: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence with this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

overused words

Want To Read The Book?

Emily Garland is getting married and looking for the perfect forever home. When the old, and some say haunted, Hadley house comes up for sale, she’s convinced it’s “the one.” The house is also perfect for reality TV star Miles Pemberton and his new series, House Haunters. Emily will fight for her dream home, but Pemberton’s pockets are deeper than Emily’s, and he’ll stretch the rules to get what he wants.

While Pemberton racks up enemies all around Lount’s Landing, Arabella Carpenter, Emily’s partner at the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, has been hired to appraise the contents of the estate, along with her ex-husband, Levon. Could the feuding beneficiaries decide there’s a conflict of interest? Could Pemberton?

Things get even more complicated when Arabella and Levon discover another will hidden inside the house, and with it, a decades-old secret. Can the property stay on the market? And if so, who will make the winning offer: Emily or Miles Pemberton?

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Judy

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreaks & Half-truths, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. 

Visit her around the web:

Website/Blog

Facebook 

Twitter 

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Celebrate Indie Author Day With The Author Encounter (And Me!)

Celebrate Indie Author Day With The Author Encounter (And Me!)

Indie Author Day

I’m excited to be leading a workshop on Nov. 7, 2020 as part of The Author Encounter’s Indie Author Day celebration. If you’re an indie author or industry professional, The Author Encounter has tailored this day to you. Free and open to the public, this event will offer pre-recorded webinars, live panels, and workshops on topics such as the costs of self-publishing, ISBNs for self-publishing, how to get your book in libraries, audiobook production, marketing tips, and Pinterest for authors.

My session is titled Self-Editing Secrets: How to Simplify the Editing Process and Not Break the Bank. Registration is required. You can sign up here.

This event will be part of the fifth annual Indie Author Day event. In the past years, nearly 300 libraries hosted thousands of authors across the United States and Canada. This year, high participation is expected again. This is an opportunity for the indie community to come together to help self-published and independent authors learn and get discovered.

“Publishing your own work is more viable today than ever before and the Independent Book Publishers Association is honored to support those who choose this entrepreneurial path,” said Angela Bole, IBPA CEO. “Indie Author Day will provide a chance to discuss publishing options, learn best practices and celebrate successes with a tribe of forward thinking writers, publishers and librarians.”

In addition to the activities that will be happening nationally, The Author Encounter will enrich its programming with selected workshop videos produced by Indie Author Day sponsors from around the world. A panel will include Shay Baby of the Brown Book Series and DC Gomez of Inside the Minds of Authors. There will also be bonus content from the founders, Bethany Averie, YA author, and Nan Jenkins, virtual assistant.

Beyond this annual event, the Indie Author Day community offers programming on both the indieauthorday.com and the indieauthorproject.com to help libraries and authors stay connected throughout the year.

The main focus of The Author Encounter is increasing visibility for authors and creating super fans through unique theme events. It’s free for published authors to join. For more information about the event, click here.

To learn more about the national Indie Author Day, visit indieauthorday.com.

 

Behind The Rewrite With Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Weaving In Authentic Details In Fiction

Behind The Rewrite With Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Weaving In Authentic Details In Fiction

Mystery author Nancy Lynn Jarvis gives us a peek into her editing process in today’s Behind the Rewrite. Nancy shares five of her biggest changes, which include inserting and fact-checking small details. Adding these authentic details in fiction can flesh out your book and make your story world come alive, but it’s important that they’re well-researched. Below, read about the changes Nancy made in her novel The Funeral Murder.

Change #1: Trimming Overused Words

Most of us have favorite words we overuse which are difficult for us to recognize. In The Funeral Murder, I discovered my word was “so.” Occasionally it was a deliberate use of the word as a particular character’s speech pattern, but most of the time, I simply used the word where it wasn’t necessary. During the editing process, I deleted over half the times I used the word to make the book read better.

Change #2: Maximizing Tension

I tend to like details and research which works well with my protagonist, Pat Pirard, because she started the series as a law librarian, but when it comes to writing a dramatic confrontation-with-the-killer scene, I needed help. Fortunately, I have an accomplished tension-writer as a friend. She read the scene and made suggestions. Reworking the confrontation made it faster paced and more threatening.

Change #3: Adding Descriptive Details

My protagonist sometimes enlists the help of her best friend for capers when questioning suspects. Syda Gonzales, Pat’s BFF, is an artist in search of her medium and is game for anything Pat suggests. I get to make Syda dress the part. Figuring out how Syda looks at any given time is fun and enriches her character. I often change details about her during rewrites.

Change #4: Researching Authentic Details

I want what I’m saying to be accurate so I research, research, research. When I think I have details down, I pick up the phone and call an expert and then edit to include their precise expertise. It’s always fun to do. For The Funeral Murder, I was able to find out how and where my villain could procure batrachotoxin. It turns out it’s not easy to come by which was great for the book.

Change #5: Taming The Cat!

The final edits I made were centered around Pat’s cat, Lord Peter Wimsey. He’s a bit of a hero in the book and because what he does stretches reality for what a cat might do, I needed to make sure his movements were reasonable and feline-like. Wimsey is based on a long dead cat of mine who definitely would do what Wimsey wound up doing for another animal.

Want To Read The Book?

In The Glass House, the first book in the PIP Inc. Mysteries series, Pat Pirard, recently downsized Santa Cruz Law Librarian, needed to find a new job in a hurry. She printed business cards announcing she was Private Investigator Pat and crossed her fingers, hoping she could earn enough money working for attorneys as a PI to survive.

Pat’s first investigation went well, so she’s excited when she gets a call from an estate attorney who offers her a second job. The attorney tells Pat his client died at a funeral and he needs help sorting out who is entitled to inherit her estate. 

Pat quickly discovers the dead woman’s past is as complicated as her estate. And when an autopsy indicates she had two deadly toxins in her body when she died, Pat’s new case becomes not only complicated, but dangerous.

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Nancy

Nancy Lynn Jarvis left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC. Currently she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

Visit her website and follow her on Facebook.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

How To Write An Effective Query Letter And Synopsis For Your Book

How To Write An Effective Query Letter And Synopsis For Your Book

how to write an effective query letter and synopsis

My editing clients often ask me how to write an effective query letter and synopsis. Thank you to the team at QueryLetter.com for offering to write this guest post which outlines the difference between a query letter and a synopsis and shares some tips for how to write each of them. I’m sure you’ll find it informative. Remember, there is a free blurb unit inside the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook Group. Once you’re a member, you can download the toolkit, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb. Your blurb will become an important part of your query letter.

What’s The Difference Between A Query Letter And A Synopsis?

The publishing world is difficult. Your work isn’t over once you finish your manuscript. In fact, finishing your book is just the first step to populating bookshelves with your masterpiece! You’ll need to decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing, but if you want to see book stores stocked with physical copies of your book, traditional publishing is your best option.

In most cases, to pursue traditional publishing, you need to work with a literary agent, who will represent your manuscript and pitch it to publishers. Landing a literary agent can be a challenge, however. When doing research on pitching your manuscript to agents, you’ll come across terms such as “query letter” and “synopsis,” which may be unfamiliar to those new to publishing.

In this post, we’ll take you through the key differences between query letters and synopses and offer some tips on writing both.

What Is A Query Letter?

When you pitch your manuscript to a prospective literary agent, the most important element is your query letter. Your query letter is your chance to introduce yourself and your manuscript to the literary agent and explain why she should be interested in representing your book. The key purpose of a query letter is to intrigue the literary agent into requesting more info about your manuscript, and your query letter thus represents your first step in the publishing process.

Query letters are short, no longer than one page, and provide only a brief overview of your manuscript and your author bio. Since your space is extremely limited, you’ll need to make every word count. Essentially, you have only a few sentences to sell your book to a prospective literary agent.

What Is A Synopsis?

Whereas the query letter focuses on the whole picture, meaning you, the agent, and your manuscript, the synopsis is concerned with your manuscript alone. In essence, a synopsis is a one-to two-page description of the entire plot of your book, including the ending. It gives a prospective literary agent an in-depth glimpse into your plot and helps her determine whether your manuscript may be worth a full read.

Sometimes, literary agents ask prospective clients to submit a synopsis along with a query letter, but in most cases, the synopsis is the second step in the publishing process. In general, if you manage to pique a literary agent’s interest with your query letter, she’ll follow up by requesting a synopsis, and if she likes your synopsis, she’ll request your full manuscript.

How To Write A Query Letter

Typically, a query letter consists of two main parts: the hook and the pitch. In the hook, your job is to draw the agent’s attention with an interesting opening sentence that captures the essence of your manuscript. The pitch elaborates on the hook, providing an overview of your manuscript in two to three paragraphs that may include mentions of comparable books on the market. Finally, your query letter may include a brief author bio describing your experience and reputation—for example, if you have previous publications.

The main purpose of your query letter is to succinctly sell your manuscript. Condensing your 80,000-word manuscript into a few sentences can be difficult, so it’s better to start small and build up. Start by summarizing your plot in one or two sentences and build off that, adding only the most relevant and intriguing information. Take some time to consider the main themes and questions your manuscript deals with to help you best summarize your work.

Use others’ query letters to inspire you, as well. With a quick Google search, you can find thousands of query letter examples, so do some research into what kinds of query letters have successfully landed literary agents for other authors in your genre. This will give you a better idea of how best to structure your query letter for success.

Finally, always personalize your query letter. You can find out more about the agent you’re pitching to by browsing her social media or website, which will likely reveal her interests and the books she has represented previously. If it’s relevant, include this information in your query letter while explaining why you think this particular agent is a good fit for your manuscript.

How To Write A Synopsis

As with a query letter, your primary goal with your synopsis is to succinctly summarize your manuscript in a way that intrigues literary agents. A synopsis gives you more room than a query letter: Typically, a synopsis should be 500 words, or around two pages, unless the literary agent specifies another length. This affords you enough words to explain the main points of your plot and give the agent a solid overview of your story.

Think of a synopsis as an abridged version of your manuscript. It tells the same story, but all the details are cut out. It simply moves through all the key plot points. It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, just like your manuscript. A good way to build a solid synopsis is to start by condensing each chapter into one or two sentences. From that, build a comprehensive synopsis with a clear narrative arc that explains the major plot points.

Your writing style matters in your synopsis, too. Keep things clear and concise—no flowery prose or wordiness. At the same time, don’t just mechanically explain each event. Use your personal style and make the literary agent feel something. Your synopsis should be a mini version of your manuscript, not an emotionless description.

The Importance Of Feedback

Aside from helping to proofread your query letter and synopsis to eliminate typos, a trusted writing colleague, beta reader, or friend can be instrumental in providing feedback that helps you detect issues with clarity or style. A polished query letter and synopsis will maximize your chances of success, so seek out and incorporate as much feedback as you can, finding ways to improve your query letter and increase the intrigue.

If you don’t know where to start in terms of writing your query letter or synopsis, reach out to the team at QueryLetter.com. As experienced industry professionals, the QueryLetter.com team knows publishing inside and out, and they work with authors to help them navigate the challenges of the publishing world and get their books out on bookshelves.

Alina Adams’ Behind The Rewrite: Back And Forth With HarperCollins @IamAlinaAdams

Alina Adams’ Behind The Rewrite: Back And Forth With HarperCollins @IamAlinaAdams

 

HarperCollins new releases

I remember hearing New York Times bestselling author Alina Adams speak at a conference about her figure skating mystery series many years ago. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Alina through social media, and when I heard about her new release, The Nesting Dolls, I knew that if she wrote a Behind the Rewrite post, it would be packed with information. Alina touched on five important areas to consider during the editing process: structure, narrative voice, title, prologues, and the importance of sympathetic characters. I think readers will be fascinated to learn how she struggled with choosing a title for her book. It also struck me that she included a prologue in her novel. I usually advise clients to be careful with prologues as many don’t work, however, Alina’s prologue is an example of one that was successfully executed. Below, you can learn more about the editing stages of The Nesting Dolls and how she went back and forth with her editor at HarperCollins, a big 5 publisher. 

My historical fiction novel, The Nesting Dolls came out on July 14, 2020 from HarperCollins. It tells the stories of five generations of Russian Jewish women, taking place in Odessa, USSR during the 1930s and Stalin’s Great Terror, Odessa, USSR in the 1970s during The Great Stagnation and the Free Soviet Jewry movement, and present day Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. 

My editor bought the book in June of 2018, but it took over a year of back and forth edits for the manuscript to be finalized. Here are the top 5 changes that were made:

Change #1: Structure

The Nesting Dolls is told in three different sections, the 1930s, the 1970s, and 2019. In the original manuscript that I submitted, the story flowed in intertwined chapters. I.e. Chapter One: Daria 1934, Chapter Two: Natasha 1973, Chapter Three: Zoe 2019. The first change my editor made was for me to restructure so that we got all of Daria’s story, then all of Natasha’s, then all of Zoe’s. (Even though, for one rewrite, I convinced her to let me try it backwards, first Zoe, then Natasha, then Daria. I thought it might make it more intriguing, but, in the end, we went back to the chronological version.) My father is happy that we did. He says he gets too confused reading stories told out of sequence. (And speaking of my father, watch him explain how to make vodka from potatoes – a key part of The Nesting Dolls plot – here!)

Change #2: Narrative Voice

In the original draft, Daria and Natasha’s sections were in the third person, past tense, while Zoe’s was in first person, present tense. Since she was the modern character, I thought it would give more immediacy to her story. My editor felt it didn’t allow us to get to know Zoe as well as we did Natasha and Daria, since she was not the best judge of what she was actually thinking and feeling and, more importantly, what effect her behavior was having on others. In this case, she felt we could understand Zoe better if we observed her, rather than letting her tell us about herself.

Change #3: Title

The book went through multiple titles. I’d initially called it, Love Is Not a Potato. Because that’s the first line of the book and refers to the Russian expression, “Love is not a potato. If it goes bad, you can’t throw it out the window.’ (It rhymes in Russian and, as we learned from The Lego Movie, everything is true because it rhymes.) My agent thought it sounded like a children’s book. So I changed it to Mother Tongue, because a big theme in every woman’s story is communication, both the political – in the USSR, saying the wrong thing or even speaking the wrong language could get you deported to Siberia – and the personal, parents and children not saying what they mean, or misunderstanding what is said. My editor thought Mother Tongue sounded like a nonfiction title. We wanted a title that suggested Russia, as well as love, family, and relationships. Unable to think of anything, I turned to Facebook, where one of my friends offered The Nesting Dolls. Nesting dolls are dolls where one is inside the other, inside the other, inside the other. It was perfect, since, inside everyone, are all the family members who came before, and what they lived through. They’re what make you, you!

Change #4: Prologue

The Nesting Dolls always had a prologue. (Don’t listen to those who say a book must never have a prologue. I love to read them, so I write them – when it fits the story.) But, in the original draft, the prologue merely set the scene and introduced some of the characters we’ll get to know later, in the present day. My agent suggested making the prologue more compelling by incorporating the story’s climactic dramatic event – the potential exposure of a deeply held family secret – as a tease, to whet the appetite for the drama to come!

Change #5: Likeability Factor

Some of my characters are more likable than others. One, I was told, came off as particularly abrasive and unsympathetic. She mostly complained about her life, blamed other people for it not working out the way she would have liked, and dismissed those who wanted to help her. My editor’s notes were very specific about making her more of a character to root for. I did it by making her more proactive, more heroic in the actions she took, and more aware of other people around her. I added more difficult challenges for her to overcome to show that she was a good person at heart… she just had a tougher time being vulnerable than most. She’s still not the most loveable person in the world, but trust me – she’s much improved!

how to title a book

Want To Read The Book?

The Nesting Dolls is a historical family saga set in the USSR is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. A Book Club Reading Guide is also available

Spanning nearly a century, from 1930s Siberia to contemporary Brighton Beach, a page turning, epic family saga centering on three generations of women in one Russian Jewish family―each striving to break free of fate and history, each yearning for love and personal fulfillment―and how the consequences of their choices ripple through time.

Odessa, 1931. Marrying the handsome, wealthy Edward Gordon, Daria―born Dvora Kaganovitch―has fulfilled her mother’s dreams. But a woman’s plans are no match for the crushing power of Stalin’s repressive Soviet state. To survive, Daria is forced to rely on the kindness of a man who takes pride in his own coarseness.

Odessa, 1970. Brilliant young Natasha Crystal is determined to study mathematics. But the Soviets do not allow Jewish students―even those as brilliant as Natasha―to attend an institute as prestigious as Odessa University. With her hopes for the future dashed, Natasha must find a new purpose―one that leads her into the path of a dangerous young man.

Brighton Beach, 2019. Zoe Venakovsky, known to her family as Zoya, has worked hard to leave the suffocating streets and small minds of Brighton Beach behind her―only to find that what she’s tried to outrun might just hold her true happiness.

Moving from a Siberian gulag to the underground world of Soviet refuseniks to oceanside Brooklyn, The Nesting Dolls is a heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive story of circumstance, choice, and consequence―and three dynamic unforgettable women, all who will face hardships that force them to compromise their dreams as they fight to fulfill their destinies.

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Alina

Alina Adams is the NYT best-selling author of soap-opera tie-ins, romance novels, and figure skating mysteries. She was born in Odessa, USSR and immigrated with her family to the US in the 1970s. Visit her website at: www.AlinaAdams.com, on Facebook at: AlinaAdamsMedia, on Twitter at: @IamAlinaAdams, and on Instagram at: IamAlinaAdams.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

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