Simon Wood's Blog
My QUERY LETTERS, SYNOPSIS WRITING AND PITCHING workshop starts May 1st. The call for this workshop came at the suggestion of one of my previous workshop students. The workshop would explore the following:
- Crafting a query letter directed at agents and publishers and how to perform a coordinated agent/publisher search.
- Writing synopses. Yes, I said “synopses.” Multiple synopses are needed for book title because you’ll need a 200-word synopsis, 1-page synopsis, 2-page synopsis and a 4-page synopsis. There’s no such thing as a standard synopsis length…sadly.
- There are plenty of opportunities to pitch face-to-face with industry professionals—both formally and informally—so it pays to have your elevator pitch in your back pocket ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.
So if you want to learn how to interact with the industry and present your story concept effectively, you can sign up here.
My online workshop on Point-of-View writing starts on April 3rd. If you want to learn how to keep your POV straight in your books, here’s what to expect from the workshop and you can sign up here:
Can’t decide who’s the best character to tell your story? You don’t have to settle for just a single character’s point of view. I’ll discuss the techniques and the decisions that have to be made when writing in multiple points of view.
Weaving multiple viewpoint characters in and out of a story is like standing trial and knowing what the judge, the prosecuting attorney and all 12 members of the jury are thinking. Each person is witnessing the same information, but each individual interpretation is different. But it’s not like you can crack into everyone’s mind simultaneously. Even if you could, it’d be impossible to comprehend what 14 people are saying if they’re all talking at the same time.
Allowing multiple characters to tell your story can add depth and insight that a single point of view may not be able to convey. Most stories have plenty of characters with their own tales to tell. Multiple POV characters add depth to a novel. Suddenly the story is being told from the perspective of multiple witnesses, all putting their distinctive interpretations on events. But the inclusion of multiple voices can bring with it its own problems. Those multiple points of view can get out of control and turn the story into a mess. In a novel, just like in a conversation, not everyone can speak at once. There are plenty of ways to give each character a voice without having them talk over one another. Even if you’re only writing from a single point-of-view or utilizing an omniscient POV approach, going through these exercises will help ensure there’s a smooth transition between characters.
- Lesson #1: Creating a hierarchy of POV characters
- Lesson #2: Limit the number of POV characters
- Lesson #3: Pick the right character for the right job
- Lesson #4: POV Toolbox Tricks #1— Use chapter and/or scene breaks & Changing Spaces
- Lesson #5: POV Toolbox Tricks #2—Passing the baton, Mixing perspectives & Using distinctive voices
- Lesson #6: POV Plan Review
My ever-popular online workshop on KILLER SUSPENSE writing starts on March 6th. This workshop blossomed out of a piece I wrote for Writers’ Digest and there’s now interest for me to develop into a book. So if you want to learn how to inject some drama and conflict into your fiction, here’s what to expect from the workshop and you can sign up here:
You’re reading. Your heart is slamming against your ribcage, your fingertips are moist and you turn another page. The protagonist’s back is up against the wall and the antagonist is setting up a trap. You wish you could do something to prevent the protagonist from walking into it, but you can’t. You are helpless, totally at the mercy of the writer. You turn another page.
If you’ve ever felt this way while reading a book, then the writer has done a great job at creating suspense—and if you continue to read all the way to the end, the writer has also done a great job of maintaining it. So how do you, the writer, go about creating the same for your readers? KILLER SUSPENSE reveals the tricks of the trade for creating top notch suspense in your writing, whether it be a cozy or a spy thriller. The intensity might be different but the techniques are the same.
- Lesson #1: Understanding Suspense—Thrillers vs. Mysteries
- Lesson #2: Viewpoints
- Lesson #3: Heroes and Villains
- Lesson #4: Elements of Suspense #1—High Stakes, Pressure Points & Dilemmas
- Lesson #5: Elements of Suspense #2—Time Constraints, Complications, Unpredictability
- Lesson #6: Suspense Plan Review
My ever-popular online workshop on PLOT THICKENERS writing starts on July 11th. This workshop blossomed out of a piece I wrote for Writers’ Digest and there’s now interest for me to develop into a book. So if you want to learn how to inject some drama and conflict into your fiction, here’s what to expect from the workshop and you can sign up here:
Plotting out your novel before you begin is a great exercise. Your story is thought through with no bad logic or unnecessary scenes. This process doesn’t have to be some drawn out and creativity killing affair. I’ll teach you some fast & effective techniques for plotting a novel from beginning to end. Don’t run out of ideas or pad out your novel again. The presentation includes my famous color-coded plotting spreadsheet.
Plotting shouldn’t be viewed as a passion killer that destroys any chance of spontaneity and creativity. Plotting is a very creative process. You’re creating the whole story in short form, providing a skeleton framework that will have the flesh put on during the writing. What can be more motivating than when you have a complete outline for your novel to guide you from “once upon a time…” to “…and they lived happily ever after”? And what can be more demotivating than coming to a grinding halt on a manuscript 30,000 words shy of your target with nothing left to say?
There’s a lot to be said for plotting and why it is a great help to the writing process. With this workshop, students will develop the skills for producing well thought out plotlines and use my outlining style sheet for creating simple “at a glance” outlines.
- Lesson #1: The importance of plotting and outlining
- Lesson #2: Breaking down the story
- Lesson #3: Identifying the pieces
- Lesson #4: Arranging the pieces
- Lesson #5: Maintaining consistency of character and voice
- Lesson #6: Reviewing the outline
I’ve scheduled my writing workshops for 2023 and they are as follows:
- PLOT THICKENERS (Starts February 6th)
- KILLER SUSPENSE (Starts March 6th)
- SHIFTING POVs (Starts April 3rd)
- QUERY LETTERS & SYNOPSIS WRITING (Starts May 1st)
- SHORT STORIES (Starts June 5th)
- AUTHOR PROFESSIONALISM (Starts July 3rd)
Course details and how to signup can be found here.