The Chopping Blog

  • Writing a Synopsis 101

    A synopsis is a clear and direct summary of your manuscript that should highlight your engaging protagonist, your emotional arc, the originality of your vision, and the logic of your plot.
  • Just Walk Away

    The day I finish a novel is always the best and worst day. Best, because it’s a relief to finally close a file I’ve read ten thousand times and let someone else have a go at it. Worst, because . . . what do I do now? My whole life has been organized around that imaginary world. Suddenly my real, messy life demands my attention and I can’t use my novel as an excuse anymore.
  • Querying 101 – Ten Tips and a Template

    Finding the right literary agent for your manuscript requires a lot of homework. And then, once you've found someone with aligned interests, convincing them that your project is polished and marketable is another battle altogether. Therefore, if you want to work with the agent of your dreams, make sure you put in the time, effort, and research required to make your dream a reality. Remember, you only get one shot.
  • Driven to Distraction

    Multi-tasking might be a good thing for some professions, but for writers, it’s a death knell. You don’t want to be multi-tasking when you’re writing. You want to be absolutely focused on the one thing you’re doing: bringing to life the picture that’s playing in your head.
  • Dear Writer

    It takes courage to send out your work, as well as a large measure of faith. I’d like to share a secret that might help. Yes, the writing is personal. But sending out your work? Pure business. If you can separate your heart from the business side of things, you’ll be ahead of the game.
  • Self-Publishing: Book Marketing 101 with Dave Chesson

    If you have decided to self-publish your novel, then you have also decided to do your own marketing.  That is no easy task, but with the right support and direction, many people are succeeding in the self-publishing world.  For some, their self-pub success is such that they never pursue traditional publishing. For others, one great self-pubbed title can be the stepping stone to representation and a house contract.
  • “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” ― Frank Herbert

    The end of a story, as well as the beginning, exists as one arbitrary point in time for the characters who are presumably going about their day, unaware that they are about to enter or even conclude a critical and story-worthy segment of their lives.  What I'm referring to is narrative plausibility.
  • The End . . . For Now

    Another thing that happens when you come back to a manuscript with fresh eyes: you spot things like thematic connections and symbols you had no idea were there. Most of this is stuff you did without even realizing it (yes, you are that smart). The trick now is to tease out these connections with a light touch, plant the seeds that need planting—and then walk away and trust your reader to get it.
  • "The best writing is rewriting." ― E B White

    A local theatre troop wrote a brilliant musical called Ride the Cyclone, which ended up on Broadway. A few years ago they held a fundraiser show in which they performed several numbers that had to be cut because they didn't end up fitting the story. This was an eye-opening experience for me. The songs they cut were amazing!