Monday, June 30, 2014

"Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

The synopsis has been finished and its text applied to the back cover. That was a couple weeks ago. Been meaning to post about this. This synopsis took some time to write, and since my editors haven’t taken a look at it, it is still considered a rough draft. There’s a lot packed into Fable Avenue’s second installment, and there’s a lot to the synopsis. But no worries, it’s not overwhelming. Fifty-seven years has passed since The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn’s conclusion, and Fable Avenue is an established culture residing in Brooklyn, New York (with other branches of its cultures throughout the United States and abroad). This bit of information was important to start off with when it came to the synopsis, and I decided that should be the synopsis’ opening. Next, I needed information on the two main characters and a little backstory on where they are when the reader opens the first pages. I thought that was more interesting than giving an overview of Fable Avenue’s African conjure culture. It started to look like an encyclopedia entry. So, I did away with that and kept the first few sentences as a setup to the years that’ve passed since The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn, and from there, I went into the two main characters and their journey together.
At one point, the opening text was cut from the synopsis I’d written, but it felt like something was missing. There were no set of words that grounded the curious reader on where this book was about, especially considering this is book two of a series. The text was reapplied when there came the wonderful trouble of getting the synopsis to fit on the back cover of the book. When I saw that there was enough space, I put the first few lines back in. It looks good and reads well.
But, many writers dread the write-up of their project’s synopsis (and most usually have someone else to write it). Personally, I can’t wait for it. It’s cliché for a writer to make the joke that if they could sum up what they’d written it wouldn’t be a 200-400 page book. Even though I’ve made the same joke from time-to-time (just to be funny), I actually love writing up any current literary project’s synopsis. I’ve always been inspired by the opening crawl in the STAR WARS movies, they themselves inspired by the opening crawl in adventure serials ofthe 40s and 50s, like FLASH GORDON. In the beginning was the Word, from movies all the way back to early stage plays from ancient times, there’s always been a quick, intense set of words as exposition to pull the audience in.
I also love movie trailers, and I believe that the synopsis is the literary form for the visual movie trailer. It’s the first set of words cast to immerse an audience into whatever world awaits them. I love movie trailers so much that I have a few of them on my iPod. And I don’t mean the actual visual. I have the audio. I even have trailers from movies I don’t like. It wasn’t the case of I got so involved in the trailer that the movie didn’t live up to it. In fact a couple of the film trailers I got stored on my iPod I wasn’t interested in and even knew the movie wasn’t going to be as exciting (for me). But I listen. I listen to the trailer’s music. I listen to the sounds of the movie and dialogue, and I get into how it all syncs up and creates an emotion. And it’s that when it comes to what I’m looking for in a synopsis: A dazzle of words that draws a curious reader in, and captures the emotion and tone of the book, but doesn’t oversell or overhype it. When you get into the book you see the synopsis as correct, what it was hinting it, what it was keeping from you. What it was proposing. What it delivered and left up to the book to expound on.
Now, let’s just get this out of the way and say it. A synopsis is exposition. And many writers fear exposition because it’s often considered bad writing. A lot of movies that use opening voice overs or words are really bad, and to be honest, if we’re dealing with a fantasy, it’s always put up against Star Wars’ opening crawl. What can also make any written form of opening narration bad is if expository dialogue was chopped or edited away and put into what’s being explained to the audience. So how do you make sure your synopsis isn’t boring? Well, I have no formula to give. I can only lead by example and talk about what gets me going to sum up 4-500 pages in a couple two-t’ree paragraphs or shorter.

As a quick UPDATE, if you're struggling a bit with your synopsis a simple template can be: 1) a hint of where your main character is at start of story. 2) what he/or she (or they) come across that advances his or her arc/plot, and 3) a hint of where the story will go, enough to lure in the reader's curiosity. Then you can give and take from that, expand as you see fit. Also, as an exercise, write a synopsis for your favorite movie/ or book.
What I can say is this: It’s your prologue, and you get to be the satyr to introduce your tale.
b write black

Monday, June 2, 2014

Under Cover

There will probably be a few tweaks, but for the most part, the cover has been finalized. The cover evolved, and then it split into two monsters, which, on closer inspection, were good companions and blended into one. I like the cover’s look, and it continues the simplicity of The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn’s cover while also adding its own flavor and announcing the second title of The Fable Avenue Saga. I started doodling the cover around January 2013. It coincided with me straightening up the notes I had for this next installment, turning the first act of this book into an outline. I always had a vision, but I also looked at other book covers to try and bring that vision more into focus.

I’m particular about my covers. In a very pretentious way, lol! I want a “classic” feel to my works. I’m not trying to make the book something it’s not. The Ronin Poetz is my fanciest cover. The art by Ray Cosico is spectacular. But it doesn’t scream ‘faux graphic novel’ with its drawing. It’s stripped down, rugged and rough like both the story and poetry that makes up the narrative. And it’s inspired by Star Wars posters. But it makes its own statement outside of its inspiration. I had fun working with Ray Cosico, and had a lot of fun putting it together. He knew what I wanted the cover to look like, and he had the knowledge on how to make the cover be its own, separate itself from its inspiration.
I wasn’t 100% focused when first approaching my other covers. A Company of Moors was the easiest concept, and by that time, I had something. 12 Stories High was the hardest. I always wanted a classic feel for that one, but I didn’t get it until this final iteration. Code-47 didn’t hit home either with its first swing. But as I started to really understand what I wanted (i.e., a classical approach, vintage, something that looked like a classic book, simple in its design), I went back and arrived where 12 Stories High is now (perfect, in my opinion). With Code-47, I was inspired by heist films and books. And the ones with the greatest influence were the simple designs for the Ocean’s movies.
When it comes down to it, I like the simple covers. I prefer the title being the heaviest thing that exists in the space. And though this cover will go through some more tweaks, the layout of it all is finished.

So what’s in other news? I’ve finished tightening all the acts of the manuscript. Now it’s all in the hands of the editors, and I’ll probably get the first blood-drenched, red-inked, manuscript massacre toward the end of the July. We’ll start our meetings. We’ll go over the edits and suggestions, and they’ll be applied. A second run through will be done throughout August, and we’ll have a first printed proof early September.

Over the weekend, a new teaser for Book II was created. It will be showcased after copyright.

b write black