Odd Hoops

The past week has been hec­tic. I’ve been put­ting togeth­er mater­i­als for the Curtis Brown lit­er­acy agency — I’m know I’m aim­ing high — and it requires jump­ing through the odd hoop. The most dif­fi­cult is the syn­op­sis. I don’t know wheth­er I have a men­tal block when it comes to writ­ing these bloody things, but I find them sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult. After a couple of drafts that girl­friend com­plained weren’t funny (i.e. they did not rep­res­ent the style of the book), I had a eureka moment: write the syn­op­sis in the style of the main char­ac­ter, and in the first per­son. I did so this after­noon and, presto, I have a fairly enga­ging single-page syn­op­sis that should give a faith­ful impres­sion of the tone and con­tent of the book. That, togeth­er with my open­ing let­ter, my writer’s CV, reviews of Déjà Vu, and the first three chapters of Proper Job should be suf­fi­cient to interest any agent in the manu­script itself — but, of course, there is a num­ber of factors over which I have little con­trol. How mar­ket­able am I? How easy is it to pitch my book (since an agent might be doing this to a pub­lish­er)? I’ve tried to anti­cip­ate these ques­tions in my let­ter — without mak­ing it too dense — but, at the end of the day, I think the writer’s primary respons­ib­il­ity is to pro­duce simply the best piece of fic­tion he can, and I think I’m approach­ing this stage.

One piece of news: An acquaint­ance of mine, Sol Nasisi, has launched a site for writers and read­ers called TheNextBigWriter. Bias alert: I’m not entirely unin­volved with the site, so check out oth­er opin­ions before you sign up! The site is a writ­ing work­shop in that writers sub­mit pieces for review. However, writers can only post to the site once they’ve accu­mu­lated cred­its from review­ing oth­er writers’ work. But writers are guar­an­teed to have their work reviewed. Works receive a score, and those works that are num­ber one at the end of the month are passed on to ‘star review­ers’ (pub­lished authors) for a lengthy cri­tique. One thing to note is that it costs money to join — 39USD per year — though there is a free 90-day mem­ber­ship for the first 100 people to sign up. Apparently, each year (in June) the best nov­el on the site will be awar­ded a 5000USD prize. There are also more fre­quent short story and poetry awards. Check it out if you’re inter­ested. It looks like a good oppor­tun­ity to get some con­struct­ive reviews.

A couple of blogs to men­tion: Nienke Hinton’s blog is called The Writing Life, and in it she describes the ups and downs of writ­ing her nov­el. Good blog; I wish her luck. Eric von Rothkirch (note to self: Ian Hocking is such a dull name; I need a pseud­onym!) has got a blog going in which he describes the pro­cess of story devel­op­ment, also in real time. They cer­tainly look like a couple of inter­est­ing blogs. I’ll be sub­scrib­ing to each to see what they get up to.


Written while listen­ing to Oxford Town from the album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” by Bob Dylan

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

One thought on “Odd Hoops”

  1. Oooh. Great idea about the ‘char­ac­ter’ writ­ing for your syn­op­sis! I’m sure you’ll do well with it!
    I like your name. Easily iden­ti­fi­able, with a nice ring to it. 🙂

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