• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Seven Habits of Highly Successful Writers

I forgot all about my “ask a question” gmail account, so without further delay (and questions always welcome):
Hi there
I have just started following your blog.
I am in the process of writing a synopsis for a novel which I need to get finished by 28th February. I would love some hints and tips.
Many thanks

Dear Reader: I know agents differ on the matter of the synopsis and its importance, but I’ve always hated their skinny asses. With fiction, it’s all in the execution, so what can a synopsis tell you? A brilliant one line description is worth gold, as far as I’m concerned. If a writer sends me a synopsis and a few chapters, I just read a few pages of the novel itself and see if the writing interests me. The synopsis is of no use to me. Unless I forgot my sleeping pills.
But why are you writing a synopsis on a deadline? Is this a self-imposed deadline (which I am in favor of)? Has an agent asked for one? If you’re determined to write this god damn synopsis, I would keep the following in mind: speak to the themes more than the plot details. Describe just the two or three most important characters. Pepper the motherfucker with rhetorical questions, i.e. What happens when a brilliant literary agent and blogger falls desperately in love with one of her readers?  Most helpful, go to publishers’ websites and read the copy they squirrel together for their authors. You’ll learn a lot.
Now, for some real tips for writers:
  1. Wash your specs with warm soapy water and dry with a cloth
  2. Floss twice a day.
  3. It is NEVER too late to thank your agent/editor with fruit or flowers
  4. Look up words you don’t know.
  5. Go to at least one reading a month (and buy the book)
  6. Read a poem a day.
  7. Write

10 Responses

  1. “Pepper the motherfucker with rhetorical questions”

    This is why I love reading this blog. Betsy, you fucking rock.

  2. Oh yes!

  3. I echo Matt’s comment. You rock.

  4. Good God that was funny.

  5. Now that is just hilarious! Think I’ll take your advice… 🙂

  6. You’re my all-time favorite writing blogger. I heart you.

  7. Betsy Lerner: You are the bomb and there is no question about this rocking blog! Thanks. Please keep doing this. Brutally Honestly & Sincerely yours.

  8. Ah, a breath of fresh air. Synopses? Don’t screw around with their skinny asses. Okay then. I’ll get back to writing.

  9. Love your opinion and the way you convey it and I also hate synopsis and query letters – some agents ask for a synopsis with the query letter . Wish they did not.

  10. […] A couple of fun links By Paul Greci If you’re in need of laughter, check out Betsy Lerner’s post on writing a synopsis at The Forest for the Trees. […]

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