Designing a Compelling Synopsis


Designing a Compelling Synopsis

The following outline was a handout at a class by author DeWanna Pace, who was an amazing teacher. Not only can this be used to write a synopsis, but I’ve found it helpful to provide a big picture view of your story and plot line. This will keep you on track and help you reach the end with your main characters goals and motivation still in mind. It’s so easy to lose the overall structure of a story sometimes and get lost in words that are going nowhere. The story has to keep moving onward with every scene and every section of dialogue pushing the reader to the end.

The opening hook/logline:

Who is the main character:

Ordinary world for the main character:

Trigger event/inciting incident:

Motivation:

Conflict:

Goal:

Conflict:

Genre consideration:

What she learns:

Goal:

Outcome:

Motivation for her:

Conflict/resolution/ending/results:

DeWanna provided these additional tips for romance writers: beginning/jolt into action; complication/conflict; work place/historical setting; kiss; fight; realization of being in love; love scene; self-knowledge/changes in character; and HAPPY ENDING.
If you are writing romance use basic fiction matrix and overlay the romance/love story plotline.

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Reunion


Outtakes 188

Reunion

by Cait Collins

 

I’ve been fortunate to be associated with some very talented writers. Many are still trying for the big break, but they continue to work at their craft. Because of schedules, new places in our writing careers, or new locations, we don’t often see each other. It’s sad, but that’s the way of life. Recently we lost one of the talented writers.

I didn’t know DeWanna Pace as well as many of the writers and published authors in the Amarillo, Texas region. My association with her was limited to conferences and writer’s meetings, but I always believed there was something very special about her. She had this way of making you feel important. When she was talking with you, you were the only person in the room with her. She focused on the conversation and listened. Really listened.

DeWanna was unfailingly kind. She put other people first. I remember the day I was released from the hospital and found DeWanna sitting off to the side in the entry. I stopped to speak with her and learned her mother was being admitted. I asked if there was anything I could do. All she wanted was prayers. In return, she asked if I was visiting someone. I explained I had just been released. She offered to help me. If I needed anything all I had to do was call. Her own plate was full and yet she was concerned about me.

She was a great teacher. When she presented classes at writers’ conferences, her sessions were always well attended. She encouraged young writers. Even though her health was not the best, she kept her commitment to speak at the last writers’ conference held in Amarillo. It was important to her to pass on what she had learned.

This past Saturday, we celebrated the release of DeWanna’s latest book, The Daddy List, at a reception at Barnes and Noble. There was no book signing; just a meeting of people who had been touched by her generosity and talent. I found myself hugging my fellow writers and catching up on their lives and work. The passing of years did not matter; we were writers honoring one of our own. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

One Writer Lifting Others


One Writer Lifting Others

By Natalie Bright

Towards the end of the year, I attended the funeral of a bestselling author from Amarillo. Guided by an obsession for the written word, she not only wrote novels and short stories, but worked as a school librarian, taught writing at the community college, and edited stories for those blessed to cross her path.

Her desire to help others was immeasurable and boundless. I was fortunate enough to have heard her speak several times, and her ability to inspire others is unforgettable. On occasion, I’d receive an email or note card from this lady with just the right message that propelled me onward. My bulletin board is dotted with her little pearls of kindness. Seeing myself through her eyes, I could reach my dreams. She not only motivated us, she made us braver.

In addition to the usual eulogy and music, a dear friend and critique partner of 35 years shared the story of her writing journey. Following that, her son-in-law spoke, and that’s when I realized there was much that I didn’t know about this woman. This young man told us about his “white mama”. As a black man married to her only daughter, he shared how his mother-in-law’s love for him had no limits. During one of the lowest points in his life, he treasures their talks about life and how her faith and belief in him made him a better man.

This remarkable young man’s mother spoke next. She shared how grateful she was to this family for accepting and loving her son during a troubling time in his life. She spoke of having a special bond with this white family that can never be broken and had no color boundaries.

Both testimonies were heart wrenching. She was living proof that the power of one loving heart can accept and affect others. The resolve of one writer to keep writing can guide others to do the same. Remembering the life of this talented lady makes me proud to be a part of a special writing community, and to have the ability to live and work in the Texas Panhandle.

Rest in Peace dear Dewanna.

In addition to a lengthy career in education, DeWanna Pace also penned twenty books and six anthologies. One of her life-long dreams was to write for HARLEQUIN. At the time of her sudden passing, she was working on a new series for Harlequin Love Inspired.

Update: A book launch will be held in Dewanna’s honor to introduce her most recent book published by Harlequin; THE DADDY LIST. Please join local authors and friends for a life celebration on March 7, 2:00 to 4:00 PM, at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 2415 Soncy Road, Amarillo.

Go West Young Man, Go West!


Go West Young Man, Go West!

By Rory C. Keel

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

roryckeel.com

Go West Young Man, Go West!


Go West Young Man, Go West!

By Rory C. Keel

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Rory C. Keel

PERSPICACITY


PERSPICACITY

by Sharon Stevens

I just hate research. I hate it, HATE it, HATE IT!! Can I tell you how much I hate it. Let me count the ways.

I just start out with one note, one page, one idea and before you know it I am thrown in a million different directions. Take today for instance. We had a gentleman come into our Buffalo Bookstore. He and his wife are retired professors from Buffalo New York. They were in Ireland visiting the national park of the Adair family. They came across information about the Adairs and the connection to the Goodnights, and then found where they could research at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Voila, they were here.

You cannot imagine the journeys our conversation traveled. We talked about the town, the heritage, books, the community here and there. We discussed their passions, our passions and everything in between and found connections with every connection. Unbelievable!

So this evening I was researching in the book “The Panhandle Plains Historical Society and its Museum” by Joseph Hill and came across the word “perspicacity”. I had never heard or seen this word and had no clue what it pertained to. I read it in the context of the sentence but unsure of the true meaning. So of course I had to look it up. And then I had to look it up with the next definition and the next. You know how they have Wikipedia and free this and free that. Well you know the rest of this story. No one needs a rocket scientist to tell you the name of that tune. This means I had to spend the better part of an hour or more going back and forth searching for the perfect definition for my blog that would make the most sense. I AM a writer you know. Well actually I was working on my story for the Llano Cemetery Walk hosted by the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on October 19, 2013 from 3-7:30pm, but that’s another story.

Back to my original thought,… nope,… can’t go there yet until I copy, paste, and file away for future reference something interesting that I found in the book that surely I can use someday, somewhere, in my next endeavor. So proud of me. That time it only took thirty minutes out of my lifetime. And if you are really dying to read, this is what I came across. I can’t help but to share. I know you will find it just as interesting as I did. So sad you can’t make it to the library to look it up yourself so I will do it for you. Glad to do it. Ask me anytime. Glad to be of service. This is what I live for. No trouble at all … “And here we have the pattern that really built the institution-a clear vision of the possibilities, a strong conviction as to its merit, unselfish devotion to a challenging undertaking, a good public relations program, a co-operative spirit on the part of all interested people, an annual fellowship meeting around a banquet table, and a sound and aggressive leadership.”

Before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written the body of the text, just the definition at the top of the page. There is nothing I can accomplish with just one word. It takes all of them put together to make a functioning, viable statement. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, back to research. If there is one thing I need to change in my writing career is that I need to take a topic, follow just one thread, or one connection, for a focused amount of time and immediately get back to the basis of the article. I cannot spend all my time with “research” and neglect what brought me to this idea in the first place. Oh well, I’ll try to do better. I just wish DeWanna Pace and Jodi Thomas had shared how to limit my research time years ago when I took creative writing from them. My life would have been so much simpler.

But in all honesty, I so love research. It brings me such joy! I just wish I could control it more.

And the definition of the word perspicacity…you will have to look it up yourself and choose your own definition. I have too much writing to do.

PERSPICACITY


PERSPICACITY

by Sharon Stevens

I just hate research. I hate it, HATE it, HATE IT!! Can I tell you how much I hate it. Let me count the ways.

I just start out with one note, one page, one idea and before you know it I am thrown in a million different directions. Take today for instance. We had a gentleman come into our Buffalo Bookstore. He and his wife are retired professors from Buffalo New York. They were in Ireland visiting the national park of the Adair family. They came across information about the Adairs and the connection to the Goodnights, and then found where they could research at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Voila, they were here.

You cannot imagine the journeys our conversation traveled. We talked about the town, the heritage, books, the community here and there. We discussed their passions, our passions and everything in between and found connections with every connection. Unbelievable!

So this evening I was researching in the book “The Panhandle Plains Historical Society and its Museum” by Joseph Hill and came across the word “perspicacity”. I had never heard or seen this word and had no clue what it pertained to. I read it in the context of the sentence but unsure of the true meaning. So of course I had to look it up. And then I had to look it up with the next definition and the next. You know how they have Wikipedia and free this and free that. Well you know the rest of this story. No one needs a rocket scientist to tell you the name of that tune. This means I had to spend the better part of an hour or more going back and forth searching for the perfect definition for my blog that would make the most sense. I AM a writer you know. Well actually I was working on my story for the Llano Cemetery Walk hosted by the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on October 19, 2013 from 3-7:30pm, but that’s another story.

Back to my original thought,… nope,… can’t go there yet until I copy, paste, and file away for future reference something interesting that I found in the book that surely I can use someday, somewhere, in my next endeavor. So proud of me. That time it only took thirty minutes out of my lifetime. And if you are really dying to read, this is what I came across. I can’t help but to share. I know you will find it just as interesting as I did. So sad you can’t make it to the library to look it up yourself so I will do it for you. Glad to do it. Ask me anytime. Glad to be of service. This is what I live for. No trouble at all … “And here we have the pattern that really built the institution-a clear vision of the possibilities, a strong conviction as to its merit, unselfish devotion to a challenging undertaking, a good public relations program, a co-operative spirit on the part of all interested people, an annual fellowship meeting around a banquet table, and a sound and aggressive leadership.”

Before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written the body of the text, just the definition at the top of the page. There is nothing I can accomplish with just one word. It takes all of them put together to make a functioning, viable statement. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, back to research. If there is one thing I need to change in my writing career is that I need to take a topic, follow just one thread, or one connection, for a focused amount of time and immediately get back to the basis of the article. I cannot spend all my time with “research” and neglect what brought me to this idea in the first place. Oh well, I’ll try to do better. I just wish DeWanna Pace and Jodi Thomas had shared how to limit my research time years ago when I took creative writing from them. My life would have been so much simpler.

But in all honesty, I so love research. It brings me such joy! I just wish I could control it more.

And the definition of the word perspicacity…you will have to look it up yourself and choose your own definition. I have too much writing to do.

PERSPICACITY


PERSPICACITY

by Sharon Stevens

 

I just hate research. I hate it, HATE it, HATE IT!! Can I tell you how much I hate it. Let me count the ways.

I just start out with one note, one page, one idea and before you know it I am thrown in a million different directions. Take today for instance. We had a gentleman come into our Buffalo Bookstore. He and his wife are retired professors from Buffalo New York. They were in Ireland visiting the national park of the Adair family. They came across information about the Adairs and the connection to the Goodnights, and then found where they could research at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Voila, they were here.

You cannot imagine the journeys our conversation traveled. We talked about the town, the heritage, books, the community here and there. We discussed their passions, our passions and everything in between and found connections with every connection. Unbelievable!

So this evening I was researching in the book “The Panhandle Plains Historical Society and its Museum” by Joseph Hill and came across the word “perspicacity”. I had never heard or seen this word and had no clue what it pertained to. I read it in the context of the sentence but unsure of the true meaning. So of course I had to look it up. And then I had to look it up with the next definition and the next. You know how they have Wikipedia and free this and free that. Well you know the rest of this story. No one needs a rocket scientist to tell you the name of that tune. This means I had to spend the better part of an hour or more going back and forth searching for the perfect definition for my blog that would make the most sense. I AM a writer you know. Well actually I was working on my story for the Llano Cemetery Walk hosted by the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on October 19, 2013 from 3-7:30pm, but that’s another story.

Back to my original thought,… nope,… can’t go there yet until I copy, paste, and file away for future reference something interesting that I found in the book that surely I can use someday, somewhere, in my next endeavor. So proud of me. That time it only took thirty minutes out of my lifetime. And if you are really dying to read, this is what I came across. I can’t help but to share. I know you will find it just as interesting as I did. So sad you can’t make it to the library to look it up yourself so I will do it for you. Glad to do it. Ask me anytime. Glad to be of service. This is what I live for. No trouble at all … “And here we have the pattern that really built the institution-a clear vision of the possibilities, a strong conviction as to its merit, unselfish devotion to a challenging undertaking, a good public relations program, a co-operative spirit on the part of all interested people, an annual fellowship meeting around a banquet table, and a sound and aggressive leadership.”

Before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written the body of the text, just the definition at the top of the page. There is nothing I can accomplish with just one word. It takes all of them put together to make a functioning, viable statement. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, back to research. If there is one thing I need to change in my writing career is that I need to take a topic, follow just one thread, or one connection, for a focused amount of time and immediately get back to the basis of the article. I cannot spend all my time with “research” and neglect what brought me to this idea in the first place. Oh well, I’ll try to do better. I just wish DeWanna Pace and Jodi Thomas had shared how to limit my research time years ago when I took creative writing from them. My life would have been so much simpler.

But in all honesty, I so love research. It brings me such joy! I just wish I could control it more.

And the definition of the word perspicacity…you will have to look it up yourself and choose your own definition. I have too much writing to do.

BOSTON


BOSTON

“Every step tells a story”

 Freedom Trail

By Sharon Stevens

 

So many years ago I took a creative writing class at Amarillo College from Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace.  In the first class Jodi asked us to write a story about finding a shoe. The friend that had encouraged me to take the class had told me about this so I was prepared…somewhat.  I debated and contemplated day after day about what I would write. The whole six weeks of class I worried about my shoe. I have taken three creative writing classes since that time, as well as also attended writing conferences, and joined the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the country. And I still hadn’t prepared my thoughts on shoes.

Jodi explained that the best advice she ever received was, “Put feet to your dreams.”

And I couldn’t quit worrying about my shoe.

Some time ago I watched a Native American storyteller, Eldrina Douma, share a story at the Branding Iron Theatre at WTAMU about finding a moccasin, and that this was the spirit of her grandfather reminding her of home. After her performance I asked her what gave her the insight to share such a story and she said she had taken Jodi’s class and this was what she had written about the shoe.

A few weeks ago I was watching a news program about Boston and across the screen I glimpsed one of the road signs for their Freedom Trail exclaim, “Every step tells a story.” I was so moved by this simple statement I wrote this down and referred to it over and over and over again, never knowing what an impact these five words would hold for me. And I could NEVER fathom that they would connect to a tragedy in this dedicated and patriotic city.

There are no words to explain or describe a story such as this. You can write every thought using all phrases and dictionary definitions and still you can’t come up with anything close to the memories the whole world will suffer from now on.

At the bookstore we had a family attending New Student Orientation at WTAMU and the mom asked about crime in our community and whether it was safe. You could see as the weight lifted off their shoulders as I explained how closely our campus police, sheriff and police department work together. The dad explained that they lived close to Virginia Tech and they didn’t want to ask, but since we shared about our community so freely they were greatly relieved. Another visitor came into our store and when I asked her where she was from she was very evasive. She said they were from Colorado and after much prodding she explained she was from Aurora Colorado. She just didn’t want to say as whenever she shared she got funny looks and had to tell everyone what she knew.

Someday a family connected to each of these tragedies may step into our community looking for a safe place to rest. As all those who witnessed the Boston bombing and the kids grow, and leave their homes, we may be the ones they turn to as they journey through life. They may come to the musical drama TEXAS or our Panhandle Plains Historical Museum or any of our countless museum or attractions. With the new marketing campaign of “Make Memories in Canyon” they may travel to our area to find a sense of fun or a moment of peace. Who knows?

The Freedom Trail will forever be marred with the blood of those killed and injured. And of course the trail itself is a reminder of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War. And even though the trail may be miles away from the actual bombing, as far as our hearts are concerned the whole city will be connected with pain and ugliness.

I just hope and pray that families will once again walk in the trail of freedom, but that no one ever again has to write a story such as this, and that NO ONE has to follow in the footsteps of the bomber, or the victims, or their families.

I just don’t think I could walk a mile in their shoes.

From the Freedom Trail website…. Though the Hub was filled with marvelously well-preserved historic sites — ranging from Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church to the Old State House and the Old South Meetinghouse — there was no organized route linking these gems together. So in March 1951, Bill Schofield, columnist and editor for the Herald Traveler, wrote to suggest that citizens get together to create the link that would tie the story of the American Revolution together making it easy and enjoyable for residents and visitors. Businessmen and women, elected officials, and non-profits worked together to designate a walking trail on Boston’s sidewalks in front of 16 historically significant buildings and locations. What to call the new path? Rejecting Puritan Path, Liberty Loop, and Freedom’s Way the group settled on the Freedom Trail. Now a national brand, trademarked by the Freedom Trail Foundation, it sets the standard for historic trails.

SWORDDRILL


SWORDDRILL

Sharon Stevens

I was so sorry to have missed the last Panhandle Professional Writers meeting due to a family emergency. Jan Epton Seale spoke several years ago at a conference at WTAMU, and it was such a joy to hear her stories. I purchased one of her books and stuck it in my bag. The next day my husband, mom and aunt would be making our yearly trek to the family homestead in East Texas for a reunion, and then for the Sunday service at the little country church. This book would be something to take along for the trip.

After we got on the road I pulled out the book, explaining the story. Jan’s father was a Baptist preacher and her book contained poetry and snippets of family and community life in a small town. I was encouraged to read out loud. Could be it was to keep me from talking. Either way the miles began to pass as I started turned the pages. One of the chapters had to do with Sword Drills. We were Methodists except for my husband, and he instantly remembered this Baptist tradition. The kids in Sunday school would line up holding their closed Bibles in front of their chest waiting for the signal. The teacher called out a Bible verse, and the child who was first in finding chapter and verse won the drill.

This led each of us to reminisce about memories growing up. We shared about Church picnics, (fun whatever the faith), Baptism (sprinkling versus dunking), fire and brimstone (the Methodist church doesn’t have too many pulpit pounding services.)

When we arrived at the church my great aunt was sitting in her pew with several friends clustered around her. I took Jan’s book and began circulating among those gathered at the church. Each one signed the inside after I told them I would be giving it to my aunt after the service as a gift and record of the memories of our time together.

My aunt was over ninety years old and she sent me a letter telling me how much she enjoyed reading and rereading the stories and remembering each person at the church that day. I was assured by her family that she cherished this until her death years later.

As writers we may not know the journey our stories will take when they are published. Who can fathom how far they may travel? Just think, Jan Seale wrote her book from a Baptist standpoint of her childhood memories, but it was shared several years later to those with a common faith. I so wanted to tell her at the Panhandle Professional Writers meeting how much this book meant to me, and how I shared it with others. I know that to a writer there is no greater accolade.

Recently I saw a facebook post encouraging people to write fan letters to five favorite authors. There are so many in my life that I need to write to. Loula Grace Erdman, Jodi Thomas, Natalie Bright, DeWanna Pace, and now Jan Epton Seale, are just a few out of thousands on my “bucket list” that deserve to be honored. I know that it will take a lifetime to list them all, and then another to put words to paper. How can I ever find the write words? So little time and so many thoughts.

But, when I do finally sit down to focus on the task at hand, in the back of my mind, with each note written, I will always remember Jan, and the sword drill.