So a few days ago, my mum told me that after three years of searching for a new house, she'd finally found one. Contracts have been exchanged. We're not moving too far away from our house in Ruislip, and fortunately it's still within the boundaries of Greater London, though I have a feeling I'm going to be trekking quite a long way to the nearest train station. We're moving in on 26th July. I'm excited and relieved, as Mum loves the house and it's in a lovely location, and there were a few initial difficulties to overcome. Now, however, we're boxing up and getting ready to go. The new house has a small study, which will be mostly mine. I can't wait to have a proper writing space.
I'm still feverishly editing The Bone Season. As I've said in previous posts, the first edit is due at the end of July. It's now July 1st, so I've gone into panic mode. I hope I can get it done before the 26th, as I don't think I'll have time for a few days after that — I'll be busy moving boxes and putting things on shelves. We're in the home stretch!
I did a photoshoot with You magazine last week, which was pretty crazy. I was dressed up in gold, as it's an Olympic issue, and had a kind of sci-fi hairstyle. I was also given a spray-painted gold book to hold. I normally wander around in plaid shirts and jeans, so being put in a gold dress with a gold poncho on top was terrifying. It's twice as terrifying not knowing what the photos look like. Apparently I looked like a 'techno-geisha'. So that's good. I hope. I think. The issue is out on July 22nd.
I've ended up doing an overhaul of the novel, as I wanted to make it darker to heighten the danger to the protagonist. Tonal differences require you to touch up almost every scene so it's consistent across the narrative. It's been tough, but I'm really pleased with the edited MS so far. The relationships between the characters are stronger, and I think there's more of a sense of urgency and danger, which is what I intended from the beginning.
Questions this week:
Can you explain what is a synopsis and how long should it be?
I'm going to use this question as an excuse to talk about agents a bit. A synopsis is one of the things that agents will ask for, and should make up part of your 'agent package' when you send off your manuscript. Generally they'll ask for the first three chapters, a covering letter and a synopsis (sometimes only one chapter is required). Agents receive a lot of manuscripts every day, so you need to make your package stand out. Most likely it will be tossed onto the slush pile until someone in the office has time to look through it. I was on 'slush pile duty' a few times while I was working at DGA, and it's funny how some people think they should present themselves in the package — one man sent a full-page picture of his own face as his covering letter. That instantly put me on edge. The agent doesn't particularly want to see your face yet; they want to see your manuscript.
A synopsis is a summary of what happens in the novel: key points, key characters, the structure of the narrative — basically something to give the agent an idea of who you are, what your novel is about, and why they should represent it. I wrote lots of different synopses when I was trying to get Aurora published, but was fortunate enough to be represented by the first agent I enquired with for The Bone Season.
Agencies differ on how long the synopsis should be. It's usually between one and three pages. Check the agent's requirements before you send the manuscript. The vast majority of synopses will be one A4 page long. It's quite a daunting task to cram your 120,000+ word novel into one page, but it's possible. Cut out anything unnecessary and work out the pivotal points of the story. Here's a simple example: Pride and Prejudice as a synopsis. Make sure the synopsis sounds exciting. The agent must want to read the full manuscript, even if they know exactly what happens.
Do you have a name for the book series yet or will it be called The Bone Season series?
I had a long talk with Bloomsbury about this. Provisionally the series has no name, but in my head I call it the Seven Dials series. That may or may not become official.
Thank you so much for everyone for your continued comments and support. I'm thrilled that so many people are looking forward to The Bone Season.