Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Please Welcome Debra Clopton!

Synopsis that Hook and Sell
by
Debra Clopton

Okay, I confess I’m a Pantser or an Organic writer ( I like this term very much)

Both terms mean that I get it done flying by the seat of my pants OR you could say; on a wing and lots of prayer!!! And believe me that is what I’m doing right now as I write this blog because believe me—blogs and I really don’t get along. But we all have to do what we aren’t good at sometimes and sooo here I am trying to explain my process on Seekerville—you poor poor people. Please bear with me!

As a pantser it is no surprise that I, like most writers HATE to write a synopsis.  Right, no surprise there. But guess what!!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to write long blurbs! (or I guess you could call it a one page synopsis if my blurb runs long J)

Crazy sounding but true! (I also sometimes have a problem with controlling the need to use exclamation marks!) But really, moving forward here—truth is there is just something about coming up with a blurb of my book that turns me on—and that is what I want the thing to do to my editor and everyone else who has to view those paragraphs before the book is bought.  


See, if you can do that, inspire your editor to see the voice and excitement of the book then she can see the marketing potential of it…and that is the most important thing. They won’t buy something they don’t think they can market and sell. So pump up the volume and get excited!

Now, not all books sell on a short synopsis. Sometimes longer synopsis are required, I still write my short blurb first, get that excitement flowing and then use it as my outline and simply expand it. Trying hard to keep the excitement and flavor of that quick 3 or 4 paragraph blurb.

As an example I’ve included the very short blurb that sold my first 1800’s novella AN EVER AFTER SUMMER which will be in A BRIDE FOR ALL SEASONS anthology collection with Margaret Brownley, Mary Connealy and Robin Lee Hatcher coming June 18, 2013



Texas 1870 July 
Debra Clopton

A born killer, Melvina Eldora Smith killed three people before the age of one: her mother giving birth, her father of a broken heart, her drunk uncle in front of a bar with a runaway buggy—her father and her uncle she’s not sure about, but Ellie’s aunt Millicent assures her all three deaths were Ellie’s doing. At the age of nineteen, determined to leave her bad luck behind, Ellie answers a Wife Wanted Ad from a lonely widowed rancher looking for love and a Godly mother for his baby...  

Widower Mathew McConnell’s Wife-Wanted ad leaves no room for misunderstandings—Widowed rancher looking for practical woman to keep house and be a mother to his baby girl—Bible believers need not apply. Mathew and God had parted ways the day Sophia’s mother died. Heart hardened, this is purely business, and he isn’t interested in a Bible believing, frilly woman trying to soften him up talking about God’s goodness!

Thanks to the meddlesome owner of the Hitching Post Catalogue, Mathew, desperate for a mother for his infant, doesn’t know what to do about the beautiful, Bible thumping mistake who gets off the train.

Ellie believes her bad luck has turned and its God’s plan all along for her to end up in Mathew’s life...and she aims to prove it to him—if her good luck holds out and she doesn’t kill him first!  

                                                      ---

There you go, a quick fast paced blurb. But—though small what did it tell you? 

It told the hook. It told the tone of the book, that it would be a fun story. It gave a flavor of my voice (as yours should showcase your voice). Word choice and hook are very important in getting that across. It also told you the goal and motivation of your hero and heroine. And it also told you the conflict of the book and how it comes between them to keep them apart. And then, it told you the ending…sort of anyway, with the last sentence! But that last sentence also promises fun and adventure along the way.

The behind the scenes of this blurb: After a day of struggling to come up with something this blub came to me in a matter of moments but only after I came up with my heroine’s name. (sometimes it just takes a trigger) Melvina Eldora’s name triggered my imagination and boom there it was. Does that happen every time—no. But when I give myself permission to have fun with a story no restrictions or worries about all the details that go into a longer synopsis my creative mind usually comes through quickly!  
The keys: Don’t stress. Enjoy yourself. Let yourself go.


Okay, so that’s how I do it. I checked out some awesome blogs here in the archives of Seekerville and boy did I find some great detailed ones here. As a Pantser this is the process that works for me and has sold for me since my first sale. I hope it sparks some ideas and helps someone out there J to do the same.

Happy Writing!!!!

I have a book out this month (May) Her Unforgettable Cowboy from Love Inspired it’s book 1 of my new Cowboys of Sunrise Ranch and next month (June) my first with Thomas Nelson Publishers in the mail order bride collection A BRIDE FOR ALL SEASONS. I hope you’ll check them out.
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of Her Unforgettable Cowboy

For chances to win books and prizes follow me on:


Check out my website and be sure to check out the contest page for a chance to enter each months prizes and receive newsletters at http://www.debraclopton.com

131 comments:

Melissa Jagears said...

Blurbs are more fun, but then the collective "wisdom" is a synopsis is not a blurb.....I think I'll go back to trying to pass off long blurbs as synopsi, maybe they'll do better. :)

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

I always enjoy your books. You’re one of the LI authors I have been reading for many years.

As a copywriter and copy editor for many years, I have my own view of blurbs, synopses, and plots. I’d like to know what you think of them.

A blurb is like an ad: it is trying to sell the reader on buying the book. It should not contain spoilers. It has the same job as coming attractions do for a movie.

A synopsis is the basic story told in a way to keep the reader’s attention with interesting characters, challenging conflicts, and unexpected turns of events. It should entertain the reader, make the reader eager to know what’s happening next and produce a surprise ending that delights the reader with an emotional mini HEA. Think of the synopsis as ‘doing’ something.

For example: pretend you’re telling the story of “Pride and Prejudice” around a campfire to a group of girl scouts. Tell the basic story, keep it interesting,and only include the necessary good parts. Tell the story with drama and finish it within whatever amount of time is allowed. How much time you have will determine how many shortcuts you’ll have to take. Also remember that with your story no one knows what's in the story. They only know how good the tale you told is. They don't know what you left out. In other words, you don't have to get everything into the synopsis. Just make it tell a great story.

A plot is a blueprint on how you are going to build the story.

Vince

Please include me in the drawing – a Kindle version if possible.

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing how you tack blurbs and synopses.

I'll add this to my saved pile.

I'd love to have my name in the drawing.
Thanks.

Jackie L.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Ugh yes. Hate synopses here. But I do kind of like blurbs. So maybe I should try this. And it might sound crazy but I have more fun writing blurbs for others than for myself. I've helped with Melissa's blurb a couple times and liked it. Just don't ask me to talk about MY story for more than a page.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Debra! Wonderful to have you in Seekerville! I love the way you start with a blurb and then stretch it into a synopsis, filling in the blanks for the editor. Your voice and the fun of your books is front and center.

I love your books and can't wait to read An Ever After Summer and all of the novellas in A Bride For All Seasons. What a great group of writers!!

Will you and your d/h be at RWA? Hoping to see you!

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

Debra, thanks for being on.
Great post.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Everyone! I'm here now. Remember this is how I do it and nothing says its the right way lol just my way :) And to me that's what you have to do in this crazy business--you have to take in information and then figure out how to process it in a way that makes sense to you and works for you! Okay, lets get to looking at these post. I'm so excited about being here today!!! Thanks for having me Seekerville Whoop whoop!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Melissa,
Yes, just try it. I've had others tell me it has worked for them. I hope it sparks something for you. See my answer to Vince below for a bit more.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Vince!
Yes--Thank you so much for your kind words about my books :) I'm so pleased you've been reading my books for so long! YAY

I agree with your descriptions of the difference in Blurb, synopsis and plot. Right on target. My problem is, plots absolutely don't interest me. I can't sit down and even think about doing one. My mind just doesn't work that way. I work more in abstract as the book is flowing from my fingers. Synopsis are a little better for me but I must force myself to create them. But the blurb. It just works for me. AND yes absolutely when I say blurb I'm not talking about the one on the back of the book. YOu would never want to spoil the book in that way. My blurb is just meant to have the feel of one on the back of a book. The blurb on the back of a book is meant to sell the reader--totally. I've spent hours and hours over the years standing in front of a shelf of books reading blurbs and studying why one causes me to open the book and the other causes me to put it back on the shelf unopened. You have to get that figured out in your mind. But the blurb I write isn't meant to sell to the reader but instead to editor and the other team. It is to spark her mind on blurbs she could write for the book that would sell to the reader. If I can't sell it to the editor the reader will never see it. :)

I used to wish I could plot but I gave up on that lol



Debra Clopton said...

Jackie thanks for being here!!! You're in the drawing.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Naomi,
Girl, you got to do what you got to do :) I bet your synopsis are awesome!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Janet!
Yes I loved, loved, loved working with Margaret, Robin and yes, even Mary :)hehe they kept me straight on many issues. They're wisdom and knowledge of the "old days" amazed me lol!

YES! I will be in Atlanta RWA and Chuck will be with me. It will be so good to see you. I hope if any one here today sees me that you will grab me and say hi!

Debra Clopton said...

Mary! Thank you for hosting my being here today. It is always a blast to be on Seekerville.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Debbie!! What a great post. I enjoyed reading your blurb. It's helpful to see how much you packed into there. Sounds like such a fun story!

Jeanne T said...

I guess first I need to master the art of writing a blurb. I actually find it a little easier to write out the synopsis and then pare it down as necessary. Sigh. Coming up with the blurb is hard for me. :)

I loved this, Debra. Thanks for sharing your process for writing synopses.

Debra Clopton said...

Thanks Missy. LOL there is a lot in those 3 paragraphs. The book was a blast to write and I sooo hope everyone loves it. :)

kaybee said...

I think we need to know how to do both, or all -- you never know what an editor or agent will ask for. I have a real problem with voice -- obviously not one here, but putting my own voice into fiction. Two out of my three Genesis judges mentioned it. BTB, got Genesis back and it was spookily similar to First Impressions -- a 93, an 83 and a 64. TOO funny. Lot of good suggestions, and I managed not to freak out at some of the sterner comments. Thank you Seekerville for helping me gain perspective!
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

My voice problem is due in part to the fact that I do newspaper and magazine journalism for my daily bread...sigh...have no problem with it outside of writing.
Kathy Bailey

Debra Clopton said...

Jeanne T isn't it wonderful how God created each of us differently! Thank you for sharing Jeanne! I think most people do it your way :)But since I truly do not know what is going to happen in my book lol this blurb overview helps me at least get a handle on the feel of it then I can fill in the blanks with details that come to me.

Debra Clopton said...

Kaybee! Let me tell you about my voice. I actually didn't find it completely for about 8 years! It took me 10 years to publish. I wrote more drama type books to start with. I was I love a good book that is intense emotionally! But on a whim after hearing editor Brenda Chin speak at a conference where she said if something isn't working try something new. She was promoting the Love and Laughter line. Soooo I went home and tried to write something funny! Never had done it before. BOOM! My voice shot across the page instantly. So maybe you just need to shake things up a bit and try something a little new.

Now my books are a mixture of emotion and funny and that's me.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Debra!
It sure was fun working with you (Mary and Robin too!).

It sounds like you and I have similar writing styles. All I need is a blurb and opening sentence and I'm off and running.

A synopsis would force me to write the plot rather that let it develop naturally from the characters. But like they say, different strokes . . .

Robin Lee Hatcher said...

As another organic pantser, I'm right there with you, Debra. I would rather write a chapter than a synopsis.

But may I say to everyone, Debra's first venture into writing an historical is delightful! Don't miss it.

Bridgett Henson said...

Hi Debra. I'm a huge fan of your books. I haven't gotten your latest so enter me in the contest.

I always said the best thing about Indie publishing is there's no synopsis to write.

I participated in LI's speed pitch and got a request for a full. Yeah Baby! Until I realized they not only wanted the ms she wanted a 5 to 6 page synopsis.

Excitement level plummeted.

So, thanks for some great advice.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Robin and Margaret!!! Thanks for dropping in :) Isn't that cool that we're all pantsers. Mary are you?

And everyone I can tell you when Margaret says she is off and running well this woman is a sprinter...her brain works faster than the speed of light!!! Ideas just flow. I've got a bunch but she's quick draw McGraw. LOL

We all had so much fun coming up with our ideas. I'm a loner when it comes to creating my books so this was a wonderful sisterhood with these 3 gals that I will always cherish!


Janet Dean said...

Yay, Debra! Looking forward to seeing you and your cowboy!! I'm bringing mine. :-)

Fun that you've written an historical. Any concern you'll get hooked? LOL

Janet

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Talk about a HOOK!

This is pawsome!! Thanks for sharing your process!!!

Wonderful to see what works for each of us and how we can take from this and that and make it our own!!!!

(yes - we have a crescendo of !!!!'s)
I love them.

:)

Thanks for being here - your new book, with other wonderful authors, sounds great! All the best!!! And yes please, name in hat may at maythek9spy dot com

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Debra,

I love your take on synopses. I don't have the hate/hate relationship with them most people do, but it's difficult to get the same flavor of the book in that shorter form.

Thanks for the reminder to preserve my voice in the synopsis!

Debra Clopton said...

Bridgett,
I'm so glad you enjoy my bookS! YAY :)

Hopefully this will help you build your synopsis. Relax and have fun. AND remember to keep the romance front and center as you build the synopsis for LI. Get that emotional conflict between them strong and let that undercurrent help steer the synopsis.

So glad you got the request!!!!! Congratulations and all the best :)

Debra Clopton said...

Oh Janet I am hooked and writing the next one! (it was a 2 novella contract) I love it. But my true heart is contemporary but I love the idea of doing more. :)

Debra Clopton said...

LOL May thanks I loved the hook. It hit me the moment I saw Melvina and then Eldora and boom the line Melvina Eldora Smith killed 3 people by the age of one came to me. Then I had to figure out how she did it. lol I love this odd job of writing. I sometimes think God created writers so he could be entertained watching our brains work. lol

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Jan! Thanks for being here. I sooo meant to drop in yesterday on your blog but it got crazy at my house (we had really bad weather my Texas town was in that bad stuff that hit the nation yesterday no tornados but almost)
Praying for all those in OK.
Anyway I'll be reading your blog soon.
Yes keeping your voice in the synopsis is so important.

Sherida Stewart said...

Your post on writing a synopsis is just what I need. I'll be writing one for a contest entry. Loved the example---amazing amount of information in a few words! And I share your obsession with exclamation marks!!!

Please enter me for HER UNFORGETTABLE COWBOY. I'll be looking for A BRIDE FOR ALL SEASONS!

Bridgette, cheers for your full request!

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Sherida--what a cool name you have!
LOL we can't use exclamation marks too much in our book so we have to get them out sometime!!! That's what blogs are for I figure lol

So glad my post might help you!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, Debra, I love your philosophy about synopsises!!! Or whatever the plural of synopsis is. :-) And I love the term "organic writer" because that's exactly what I am! I also hate writing a synopsis. It seems to stunt my creativity when I write it before the book. The shorter the synopsis, the better, I say. ;-)

I love your voice! That novella sounds amazing. I love mail-order bride stories. :-)

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Melanie! I feel the same way you do. And yes I heard someone call herself an organic writer years ago and I loved it. The story grows organically as we create it and I find that fits me perfectly too.
Thank you for liking my voice--the truth is it sounds just like me so that makes it easier to do. I found that the voice I tried to cultivate the first years of my seeking to get published, though it drew attention it didn't stand out. When I went with the real me it worked!

Thanks so much for stopping in. I read your post a week ago I believe about your publisher and was so sorry that happened to you! God has a plan and I hope He's revealing that to you now or soon!

Mary Connealy said...

I'm a panster big time.
I've learned to write a synopsis because, they won't let you sell a book without one!!!!

But it's not easy and my agent, Natasha Kern really sees plot holes and helps me write it right.

She always says things like, "You made your hero sounds like an icky lunatic."
I say, "No he's going to be a cool wildman."
She says, "I trust you to write him that way, but we've got to put him in the synopsis that way."

She's a true gift.

Debra Clopton said...

I'm going to put a plug in here for my FB page. I'd love for you do come over and "Like" my page and be my friend :))) here's the link http://www.facebook.com/debra.clopton.5 and also my website to sign up for my newsletter which has a contest every month to win one of my books!!! http://www.debraclopton.com
also find me on Goodreads for contest too.

Mary Connealy said...

And Robin and Margaret showed up. Hi ladies.

We really had fun with this and, though we keep hoping she stays humble, we know Debra is our secret weapon!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Debra! I too love Debra's books.

And I always love additional help on writing that darn synopsis.

Debra Clopton said...

LOL tooo funny Mary!!!!!!! that comment warrants a bunch of exclamation marks :)

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Tina! Thanks


Marianne Barkman said...

Had a rare hour off this morning. Loads to do, since today is my turn to supply dinner for the seeding crew, but much rather spend it here on Seekerville. Thanks for a great post, Debra. I am certainly look inning forward to reading and reviewing this novel

Debra Clopton said...

Ohhhh thank you Marianne! Reviews are always so great. I surely do hope you enjoy it :)
Good luck feeding the seeding crew that sounds like a job.

pol said...

Hi Debra good to see ya in Seekerville..Hey "Done your way" looks pretty good from where I sit reading your books...
organic or not they are a-1 plus.
you say you are not comfortable on blogs but looks like a pretty good one to me, thanks for sharing "Your way".
Paula O

Tina Pinson said...

Debra,
perhaps the blurb is easier because it can be fun and synopsis sounds like homework.

:-)

Also wanted to share that I signed a contract for a novella.which for me, miss wordy, kind of like writing a synopsis

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, wow, as another "organic pantser," I find myself in such wonderful company! Thanks for joining us today, Debra!

Oh, yes, the long blurb--love it! The last couple of times I sent proposals to my agent, she suggested I develop series ideas. Honestly??? When I had enough trouble figuring out what's going to happen in the first book???

But I managed 2-3 paragraphs for each successive story just like you described here--something like a cross between a back-cover blurb and a short synopsis. And it worked--both series sold!

The great thing is how much leeway the blurb/synopsis gives me to discover what's going to happen as I'm actually writing the book. And usually it comes close to matching the original idea I proposed. ;-)

Debra Clopton said...

Paula O Thank you. I try :)I'm so glad you enjoy my books and you always make my day!

Debra Clopton said...

Tina! Congrats on the novella! LOL and you may be totally right. Blurbs are fun and synopsis do sound like homework! Especially if the editor sends them back and wants changes :)

Debra Clopton said...

Myra thank y'all for having me here. YES! It works :) lol so glad your series sold!!! Congrats from one organic pantser to the other.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thank you, Debra, for sharing your approach to writing a synopsis. I'm no good at writing a blurb and only slightly better at writing a synopsis. Since I began my latest with an expanded outline after writing a few chapters first, I'm able to write a more in detail synopsis. Wish I'd done this with my first novel. As you say, each must find what works for them. Thanks for reminding me to persevere my voice when writing a synopsis. That's advice I need to remember. Thank you.

Debra Clopton said...

You are welcome Pat! Thanks for dropping in :)I've tried all kinds of ways to try and do expanded outlines and used all kinds of tricks but they just didn't work for me so yes, great we can all do our own thing.

Courtney Faith said...

I have loved your Mule Hollow stories. These ones sound fun too! Clp1777(at)aol(dot)com

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Debra,

Oh, you're book sounds like such fun. Can't wait till it comes out.

I'm sure I've read your LI books, because I read a lot of them. Sometimes I don't pay attention to the author's name unless they're a SEEKER!

Tina P, congrats on your novella! Sounds like a challenge! That's the one thing I don't like about novellas is that most times I want the story to keep going and it ends too soon.

Please enter me for the draw.

Cheers,
Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

DebH said...

i love cowboy stories, not too keen on synopsis writing. i like the idea of blurb expansion for creating the synopsis. will keep that in mind.

would love to be in the running for your book. must wander off to Amazon to put A Bride for All Seasons on my wish list.

Soooooooooo looking forward to reading THAT.

Debra Clopton said...

Debbie thank you for adding Bride For All Seasons to your wish list! Will put you in the drawing for Her Unforgettable Cowboy! Thanks for stopping in :)

Debra Clopton said...

Courtney so glad you enjoyed Mule Hollow! Hopefully you'll enjoy Cowboys of Sunrise Ranch too :)

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Susan,
Most folks know Mule Hollow before they know my name :) lol if you read LI and haven't read about Mule HOllow and the Matchmakin' posse then I hope you'll pick one up! And I sure hope you enjoy A Bride For all Seasons. All the novellas are cool because they are all different. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I've never met a Clopton book I didn't love!!!!

Hey-a, Deb!!!! How's things?????

I'm so glad you're here today, this just makes my week beyond special!!!!

As one pantser to another, I know I have to plan to a certain degree or they don't send me a paycheck... but I've learned so much since joining the Love Inspired team.

And TINA PINSON Do tell us more, Sistah!!! With who/what/when/where/how...

Pretend you're a reporter, chickie and give us the facts, ma'am. Just the facts. (Didn't you love Dragnet?????)

Okay, so Deb, you always amaze me with your time structure, how much you get done. How do you do it? How do you plan your days?

Digging for Pearls said...

I can't wait to read your new Mail-Order Bride saga.

So how did you (and the other authors) come up with the idea of a Mail-Order catalog? Was this something from history or pure fiction? :)

Congratulations on your first historical. Hope you'll have more. :)

Blessings,
Jodie Wolfe

Debra Clopton said...

Ruthie!!! So glad you dropped by. Makes me smile as it does everyone!

Plan my day! I'm almost always at the computer by 6:30 and when on deadline crunch like right now (due on 31) my mind won't let me sleep past 5 sometimes 3 or 4 am till 11 or 12 pm. Not much sleep. This is usually during the last 2 weeks of a book and its actualy my best writing time of the entire book! I work best under pressure.
So anyway, normal days, 6:30 and write mostly all day :) I work off and on all day. I try to get 2000 to 5000 words written. Some days are just better than others.

We are very busy, like most folks, and so I have school activities, and church activities and family time and I just work around everything with my writing. But I'm very dedicated to my writing and know my schedule so many times I just have to say no and hole up. This year especially is going to be a grueling writing year (a blessing but demanding) so I lIVE by my wall calendar! It goes everywhere with me. lol yes a wall calendar in this high tech world I take a wall calendar with me. It has my life on it clearly written out. The beginning target for each book for they year inked in. Goals, expectations, and wordcount needed to reach the targeted end date for that book. Then the next books start date usually two days later. I have a book due on the 31 and my editor told me to take 2 or 3 weeks extra no problem. But it is for me :) and my next project so for me everything but finishing that book (and doing this blog and promoting for the May and June book--which are clearly written in ink on my calendar!)

lol are you sure you wanted to know all that!!! Thing is I know I'm not alone. I know that Margaret, Mary and Robin have been working similar schedules. I do not know if they work the hours I do. They may have control over that. lol I don't I'm kinda out of control on that.
Whew I need a coke after explaining all of that crazy stuff!

Pam Hillman said...

I think it's safe to say that we all love you and your books, Debra! Your Mule Hollow series was just adorable!

And feel free to use all the exclamation points here in Seekerville that you like.

Captain Jack uses them for firewood for the bonfires on Unpubbed Island. :)

Elaine Manders said...

The light bulb finally came on for me. It's easier to write a blurb or a synopsis before you write the book. I can see why. I've spent the last 3 weeks writing a synopsis for a big Seekerville critique and have 21 different ones. The one page looks like a plucked chicken to me because I have all those little details floating around in my head.

In the future I'll write the blurb, the synopsis, the proposal, the pitch before I write the book.

Thanks, Debra. Please put me in the drawing for your cowboy book. I read everything about cowboys and I'll be buying A Bride for all Seasons. Your blurb alone sold me.

Debra Clopton said...

Thanks Pam :) lol I have given Captian Jack enough firewood to last all winter!

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

I didn’t mean to make you sound old! Because everybody is young to me.

Thanks, I think your answer has been the best I can ever remember receiving here on Seekerville.

I really need to pay attention today because I have a Pantser/Plotter post coming up! And the pantsers are winning big time! The soil in Seekerville is perfect for pantsers.

I’m a plotter. I’d rather create a detailed plot than write the book. That’s not good for breaking into print. I just took a great plotting course. We used an Excel spreadsheet and plotted the whole story, scene by scene, all conflicts, motivations, character bios, ARCs, everything. It was amazing. I can look at that spreadsheet and see the whole story. Godlike: I see it all happening at the same time. But now that the whole story is created in my mind, and has been played in my mind several times, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for actually writing it.

I’m an architect … not a construction worked. I think a plotter is like the guy who loves watching great football games on video tape after they have been played. While a pantser only watches live sporting events. Of course. the pantser is going to watch a lot of lousy, disappointing games that way. Just like the organic writer, who like an organic garden, is going to spread into many places that are not good for their roots nor does their natural fertilizer provide the most aromatic ambience.

I’m sure that pantsers, like blondes, have more fun.

One question about the “Her Unforgettable Cowboy.”: this is a novel, right? And not a biography of Mary’s husband. (That’s the frist thing I thought of when I saw your cover.) And, I know this is two questions, but does the full name of your heoine, Melvina Eldora Smith, appear often in the story? Because, I’ve been reading Love Inspired books since they came out (even subscribed for years so I would not miss a one) and I can’t read ‘Eldora’ without seeing ‘Elnora’ (aka Lenora) pictured in my mind. (Another blonde!) That’s a little bit too crafty.

Vince

Debra Clopton said...

Elaine! Thank you :) I worked really hard to entertain readers with An Ever After Summer :)

And I totally agree with what you are saying. Sometimes after the book is written you know soooo many details it makes it hard.
Good luck!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Congratulations on the novella contract, Tina Pinson. Who did you sign it with? Cause I'm nosey!!!!

See and a novella IS a novel to me. I write lean.

Debra Clopton said...

LOL Vince! You didn't make me sound old :)
I'm glad you liked my answer. WOW thank you.

And wow I could never do that on a spreadsheet. I have tried to sit through workshops where they explain that and my eyes glaze over and my mind takes a hike! lol and I would loose interest too.
But I think its cool for those who do it.

As a pantser many people think we wander off in all kinds of wrong turns. But I don't. When I write I write from beginning to end and very seldom waste anything. My mind stalls me almost instantly on a subconscious level and I've learned that when words aren't flowing that I've done something wrong. I immediately backtrack and read the last chapter and usually see what I did. So for me I work straight through like a movie :)

Lol I didn't use Mary's husband :)maybe next time!
And I also think of Lenora's alter ego Elenora when I think of Eldora :)
and oh yes, Vince I try to always have fun!
I would love to read your blog when you write it. You'll have to tell me where it will be.
Love talking with you.

Tina Pinson said...

Thanks for the congrats on my new endeavor everyone.

Susan,

I think the only reason I'm able to do this one is I'm writing the novella as sort of prequel to a story I already finished, otherwise I probably would have kept on writing and writing.


Ruth, thanks... the details are as follows. it will be released through Helping Hands Press in November. It's part of the Murray Pura Cry Freedom Civil War Series. Kathleen Maher and Carrie Francett Pagels already did novellas and they gave them my name.

:-)

It set in the coalfields of Kentucky, and is about a family who is trying to deal with the hardships and while hoping their father's name doesn't end up on the conscription list.

I'm considering Black Rain or in honor of Elvis Kentucky Rain...

haven't quite got that far yet, The continuing story is called Winds Across the Rockies.

Natasha Kern said...

Debbie, you really DID write a winning blurb which was certainly neededat the time since you had not written historicals before and I knew you would be a perfect member of the Brides team!!! I love the phrase "organic writer" and I'm going to start using it. And I too overuse exclamation points and Julie loves to tease me about that!!!! :-)It is a hardship of being organic that synopses are necessary and seem a better option than writing an entire ms on spec to interest editors. On the other hand, I hear other agents say often that they hate the one pagers because the blurb has been polished to a fare the well or edited by writer friends and hard to see the writers voice in it-- so Debbie's advice to let your own vice shine is great.

Julie Lessman said...

DEBRA!!! SOOOOO good to see you here, my friend and WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

LOVE the hook for An Ever After Summer: "A born killer, Melvina Eldora Smith killed three people before the age of one" -- GREAT JOB!!

And you are SO right, the best kind of writing is when we let go and just have fun. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Debra Clopton said...

Tina that sounds so interesting! And deep with research. I've found I'm terrible with research but am learning with the help of my friends :)

Congratulations!

Debra Clopton said...

HI Natasha! Everyone Natasha is responsible for pushing me into this novella :) and I am so grateful. She set me up see (she is sneaky)--when your agent comes to you and says she's set it up for me to have the opportunity to be included in a collection with Mary, Margaret and Robin-well, I might be busy but I am not stupid soooo I JUMPED at the chance and made room my schedule and have loved every moment of it. And yes, I knew I had to come up with something really good :) and God was faithful to give it to me. Thanks so much Natasha!!!!!!

Nancy Kimball said...

Debra, loved it! I agree, blurbs are way more fun! (See, I too struggle with overusing the exclamation point.) Love the Love Inspired cover by the way. ;-)

Debra Clopton said...

Hello Julie-Thank you friend!
We all love to write or we wouldn't be doing it. So don't let stress over something steal the fun of it. :)


Kav said...

Woohooohooo! Guess what's on the top of my TBR pile? Her Unforgettable Cowboy! Can't wait to dig in!

I am resigned to being Seekerville's only synopsis flunkie. It's not my fault. I have synopsisitis. It's extremely uncomfortable and catching -- so stay back.

You make synopsis writing look so easy. :-( I am soooo doomed. I will try your blurb method but...I still think I'm doomed. That ominous rumble you hear is from the synopsis raincloud hanging over my head. Doomed. Doomed. Doomed.

Debra Clopton said...

Thank you Nancy!!!! Join the Exclamation club lol!

YES isn't that the best cover! I loved it the moment I saw it. The behind the story is that I sent them pictures suggestions and in order to portray what I was looking for I had to send a picture of the barn in the background , another picture of the flowers in the pasture and a different picture of the entrance gates (combining two that I really liked) and then a picture of the road and lol then this gorgeous cowboy. OH and a sunset from my back porch that looked like a sunrise :) and out of alllll of that the art department hit a homerun and came up with this cover. They are good. I've been seeing others covers and they too are beautiful. I just had to really work to get all those elements to them. To show them my vision.

Debra Clopton said...

Kav! Whoop whoop can't wait for you to read Her Unforgettable Cowboy. It has gotten great reviews so hope you like it. It was extremely fun and nerveraking coming up with new characters and still keeping the feel of Mule HOllow in some ways. YEs readers if you love Mule Hollow I didn't jump ship I still recreate that feeling here. But I get to open up to new plot ideas with Sunrise Ranch.

NOW, think positive, let your creative mind open up say a prayer first. Remember I said on a wing and prayers! You can do it :)good luck!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

2000 to 5000 words a day blows my mind. I mean I CAN do it but wow, I don't very often.
I know you said it's just toward the end and that does go faster because usually you can see exactly where you're going and head there full steam ahead at that point.

But still, I'm impressed!

Mary Connealy said...

HI NATASHA!! The fifth member of our writing team.
Thanks for stopping in.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Mary.
Yes, my daily goal is always 2000 words. But toward the end I have to stretch it up toward 5000. Tooo many 5000 word days and my mind is mush. lol I literally can't form words in conversations. Its quite funny!

:) and yes Natasha is the 5th team member!!!

Annie Rains said...

I love your blurb! Your book sounds like alot of fun!

Thanks for today's post and the awesome advice!

Debra Clopton said...

Thanks Annie :)

Heidi said...

I can't wait to read the new book! I love your series :)

Myra Johnson said...

I should have remembered you're also Natasha's client, Debra! Isn't she the greatest?

Waving to the best agent ever!!! So glad Natasha understands and appreciates us "organic writers"!

(And exclamation points, too!!!!!!!)

Amber Perry said...

Debra! Thank you SO much--I loved your post. I enjoy writing and have always thought it was less of a writer because I prefer "pantsing", but now I know, if you can do it, I can do it and its OK! Thank you again-I would love to be entered to win your book! God bless!

Debra Clopton said...

Heidi Thank you! So glad you love my series. (My sweet daughter in law is a Heidi :)

Debra Clopton said...

Yes Myra Natasha is awesome :)and she really is a queen of exclamation marks too lol !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Amber I KNOW!!!! I went through that too. But there are some really biggy names out there who are plotters so be free (can't think of them right now but there are :) So--relax and let your imagination fly.
You are entered in the drawing.
God bless you too.

Donna said...

Debra, I too love Mule Hollow! I can't wait for A Bride of All Seasons! Please enter me for Her Unforgettable Cowboy.

I've wondered if any of you have turned in a synopsis, only to find the story wants to go in another direction. What happens then?

Mary Connealy said...

Hi
I just ate two boiled eggs for lunch.
It was a mistake.

Debra Clopton said...

LOL I ate that for lunch yesterday Mary! Mine were great :)

Debra Clopton said...

Thanks Donna!!! Yes, I have done that. I've done a synopsis that I loved but then when I actually started working on the book there were elements that just wouldn't come out on paper like I wanted. So I changed it up and then explained it to my editor. But I can't promise that would work that was just my experience. Maybe others will speak up about it.

CatMom said...

Hi Debra! I can feel your enthusiasm just in your post today, LOL. You are so cute!

Thanks SO much for sharing with us--I confess I also do NOT like writing a synopsis (the word alone makes me feel nervous *sigh*). So I really appreciate your sharing what works for you--sounds great.

Please put me in your drawing...your blurb hooked me enough that I do want to read this story! (So even if I don't win the book I'll purchase it *grin*).

Enjoy the just-baked Georgia Peach cobbler and Pecan Praline coffee cake (both still warm from the oven). Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

Vince said...

LIGHT BULB MOMENT

Hi Brenda:

You wrote:

“When I write I write from beginning to end and very seldom waste anything. My mind stalls me almost instantly on a subconscious level and I've learned that when words aren't flowing that I've done something wrong. I immediately backtrack and read the last chapter and usually see what I did. So for me I work straight through like a movie :)”

Wow! Did this comment ever cause a “Light Bulb” moment. Pantsering can be done in many different ways. Some methods may often lead to failure while other approaches could well increase the chances for success.

The key question then is not ‘are you a pantser?’ but rather, ‘how exactly do you pantser’?

TINA: How about a post on “How to Best Pantser Your Way to Publication”.

Hold on! Maybe that should be the question I ask the Seekers for my post!!! I already have Debra’s answer. Of course, this take on the subject might best be written by a successful pantser like Mary or Myra. (I’m not sure I should be writing an ariticle on how to become a better pantser. : ))

DEBRA, btw: The Philosopher, John Dewey, wrote whole cloth, from start to finish, and did not want to edit his work. (Except typos). If something was wrong, he’d start all over again and rewrite the whole piece. This made the article an organic whole rather than a synthetic combination of parts. Perhaps you should be defined as a ‘straight line’ pantser. (As opposed to a ‘butteryfly’ pantser).

Back to work. The plot thickens.

Vince

New York: Just because we've gone all day without this city/state being mentioned.

Debra Clopton said...

Pattie! I was starving and am really brewing my afternoon pot of coffee so cobbler and coffee cake sounds scrumptious!!!!

I'm glad you liked my blurb! Good luck with yours. And if you see me this year at RWA like last year please grab me and say hi!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Louis L'Amour's son, whom I have talked to and had as a guest back a few years on Petticoats & Pistols, said his dad wrote in a 'stream of consciousness'. He just ran the book off beginning to end and sent it off....after he was established of course.
Very little editing.

Mary Connealy said...

Vince you know the answer from me. If I run into a roadblock...I just shoot someone.

It's surprisingly effective.

Debra Clopton said...

Vince yes so true. I think on both ends. Plotters and Pansters both face failure or success. The ultimate task is to get past the obstacles that are keeping you from getting the book written. Getting the book written is the ultimate goal.

I've always had the same mind toward this as Nora Roberts. You can't edit a blank page. Get the words on paper.

So pantsing or plotting it believe is really unimportant for folks to focus on. Just get the book out there. Jump in--the waters fine :)
















Debra Clopton said...

Mary, shoot!!!! I've heard you say that before and I need to shoot someone. I have never done that!

Mary Connealy said...

Well the bullet doesn't have to HIT them, Deb. So it's not THAT violent!

Mary Connealy said...

I also really believe that a lot of this is just semantics.
I think plotters fly by the seat-of-their pants when they need to.
And pansters have more of an idea where they want to go then they realize.
An author might lean one way or the other but we all do a lot of both.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well you have to admit, after hanging around Seekerville today, organic does sound a lot nicer than pantser.

Organic.

Organic.

I like it.

I sound healthier and toxin free already.

Debra Clopton said...

Okay so I didn't mean to get violent. I like the idea of the bullet missing the person.

I agree with you completely on the semantics. WE all do a little of both...though plotters may not want to admit it :)

Debra Clopton said...

Okay so I didn't mean to get violent. I like the idea of the bullet missing the person.

I agree with you completely on the semantics. WE all do a little of both...though plotters may not want to admit it :)

Debra Clopton said...

lol Funny Tina! I'm not toxin free--Caffeine loaded--yup!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

We're shooting folks? Pantsing folks? And no one mentioned New York?

Vince, darling, it doesn't count if you FORCE it... A few bars of "New York, New York" with Old Blue Eyes would have been more organic...

(Ruthy bursts out laughing in upstate)

But I do love hearing about New York, Dahlinks!!!!!

"New York is where I'd rather stay! I get allergic smelling hay! I just adore a penthouse view... Dahling, I love you but give me Park Avenue!"

Green Acres, sitcom, way back when!!!

Silly, funny show.

We pantsers must stick together. Deb, I'm impressed by that word count, too, wonderful! And yeah, when Natasha calls... Or snaps her fingers... or e-mails... I listen! Because I don't think I've ever met anyone more knowledgeable in the field of writing.

And I'm hyped on caffeine, too, so I'll join the toxic crew. Although a blueberry cobbler is staring me in the face and I'm ignoring it

That's some pretty good penance right there!

Debra Clopton said...

Green Acres is the place to be! Green acres is the place for me!!! On a ranch in Texas! lol (that doesn't rhyme but its the truth.

I'm really curious about what most folks word count is? I am always floored and amazed by these folks who write 5000 to 10,000 words in a day. OR more. And they are out there. I mean again, look at Nora she used to average 10 books a year and that was a combination of 60,000 word length and 80,000 or bigger books combined. HOW do they do that?

Then I know others who average about 1200 steady words a day 365 days in a year and I just added it up! That's 438,000 words in a year. That's 8 books of 55,000 word length...hmm....okay I think I have just come up with a new goal for myself lol.



Connie Queen said...

Checking in late today and I missed a lot.

I'm unpublished, so I may change in the future. When I write a synopsis, the first few times I just write the basic story and everything I know has to be in there. Then I re-write it to make it more fun and appealing.

Ya'lls word counts are killing me. I don't think I could type 10k/day even if it was written out for me. 2k I could do if I work all day.

Your book sounds wonderful. Please put my name in the hat.

Debra Clopton said...

Connie great you got to check in! Word count is crazy! I couldn't type more than 5ooo in a day no way!

You're in the drawing :)
Keep it steady and good luck with becoming published!

Debra Clopton said...

I have to run to youth group (we lead the youth at our Cowboy Church) so I'll be back! Don't want anyone just checking in to think I've left the building. I'll be gone for a couple of hours though. :)see you soon.

Chill N said...

DEBRA!! Debra! Debra!

You have NO idea how much you helped me today. I'm an organic writer, too. Was editing along, totally enjoying my story ... and then slowly but surely I started losing interest and I couldn't figure out why. Took a walk. That didn't help. Had lunch. That didn't help. Answered email. That didn't help.

And at long last I visited Seekerville and here you were with the answer:

>>My mind stalls me almost instantly on a subconscious level and I've learned that when words aren't flowing that I've done something wrong. I immediately backtrack and read the last chapter and usually see what I did.<<

I went back, read, and immediately realized what wasn't working. Even better, I realized why.

Huge thankful hugs to you! Sending best wishes for what promises to be a super book.

Nancy C

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

“Vince, darling, it doesn't count if you FORCE it... A few bars of "New York, New York" with Old Blue Eyes would have been more organic...”

That might be true for those out in the sticks but in the city, we’re more direct. We believe you should ‘try force first’.

Besides, every time I think of 'old blue eyes', I can hear him singing “Chicago, Chicago, the town that Billy Sunday couldn’t shut down.” Anyway he was from Hoboken.

Vince

Debra Clopton said...

Nancy!!! I'm smiling really big. I am sooo glad to help lol. I'm thankful that I learned this about myself fairly early. So glad to help you out. :)this deserves a few more !!!!!!!!
Happy writing!

Lyndee H said...

I love this, Debra! Really great examples and advice. I'm working on synopsis/blurbs right now and your post couldn't be more timely. Thanks!

Lyndee H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyndee H said...

It was removed because blogger posted it twice. Honest. ;)

Natalie Monk said...

Haha! What a fun blurb! I love it! I have a bit of difficulty writing them and/or a one page synopsis.
I tried it once and the feedback was, "You should read more back cover blurbs, because it's not supposed to tell the ending." I tried it again and the feedback was, "You didn't say how it ended. Learn how to write a synopsis." LOL.

I've definitely been confused on the difference and when each should be used. But this post helps a lot. Thanks Debra! And I look forward to reading your story.

Debra Clopton said...

Lyndee I'm so glad I could help! Good luck to you :)

Debra Clopton said...

Great Natalie!
I hope you read some of the comments above too. The one where I answered Vince first thing this morning. I think his comments about what each is were great! And then I told why I do mine this way! Those comments explain things even more.

Doing blurbs my way are for an editor--though I use this particular blurb as a promo too because I didn't actually reveal the ending. Believe me there is a lot more to the actual ending.

Glad I helped! Good luck :)

Natalie Monk said...

I did see those comments, Debra. Clears up a lot for me. I'm excited to try your method of blurb-writing now. :) Thanks!

Debra Clopton said...

Awesome Natalie :)

Debra Clopton said...

Okay yay, just got the new contest up and running on my Facebook page. For a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card head over to the FB page here is the link :)
http://on.fb.me/17rNSeT

Mary Preston said...

I do like Organic rather then Pantser.

I'd love a copy of "Her Unforgettable Cowboy" thank you.

jubileewriter said...

I found this very helpful. I'm a panster too. I am going to pull out my synopsis and review it for the points you mentioned here. Thanks.

Ben and Phyllis said...

I enjoy your books, Debra! Thank you for sharing this article here on Seekerville :)

Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks Debra,

I resonate to your writing style and detestation (coined a new word, maybe) of summarizing- I was facing coming up w/another synopsis this a.m. Last time, a Seekerville-ite helped me a lot w/one, and I'm hoping the JOY I felt when it finally came to me will inspire me quicker this time!!

Thanks for sharing...encouragement for today.

Gail Kittleson

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!
Sarah Richmond
sarahrichmond.12@gmail.com

Barbara Thompson said...

Debra, I think you are great! Love your books! Please enter me in your contest!
Thank you,
Barbara Thompson
barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

Crystal Benedict said...

I found Debra as a new to me author last year and I am so glad to have such a wonderful author. I am reading Her Unforgetable Cowboy right now & loving it!

MinDaf @ Aol.com

Melanie Pike said...

I am going to have to come back and reread this when I'm not bleary-eyed from a 3-day church leadership conference! But I saw that you had shared on here, so I wanted to tell you that I just read NO PLACE LIKE HOME and loved it. :) Over the past few years I've read most of the Mule Hollow books...just not in order (I get most of them from thrift shops; my book budget is not very big, although my DH and I loooove books). I just liked your FB page, too.

I also need to write my synopsis so will definitely come back and see if I can glean some wisdom from your post.

And please toss my name into the ring/hat/cat bowl for a book!

Blessings,
Melanie

Michelle Fidler said...

Please enter me in the drawing for the book. Haven't read any of your books yet.