The Dreaded Synopsis

I need help.

My mind is failing me greatly as I attempt to pen a synopsis for a short story I am writing.

In my mind, the synopsis is soooooo important in avoiding the slush pile. I don’t know this for certain, as I am as yet unpublished although I’m working on the theory that a synopsis is equivalent to a personal statement in a CV.

The personal statement is always read first in an effort to find the applications that stand out. After all, if a company receives 100 applications for a single position then it can be safely assumed that they all meet the basic requirements for the job. Hopefully. Just trawling through them is not going to help in selecting the best candidate though is it? It would be soooooo boring trawling through 100 applications that all read the same.

Step forward the personal statement. This is the only piece of your application that allows you to show that you are a human being, and not just another drab looking application among many. If anything is going to help your application stand out then it’s the personal statement.

I think of the synopsis in the same way. I want so much to get it right and to stand out, but I’m drawing a major blank. The words just won’t flow. I sat at my keyboard for four hours yesterday and managed a mere 300 words, 200 of which I deleted. I went to bed with a splitting headache and feeling thoroughly defeated.

Today I am back at work and will be for most of the week. Hopefully this will give me the time I need to sort my head out and get back in the game.

Sit me down and ask me to write a personal statement and I’ll be fine. I have never, ever been refused an interview for a job in which I needed to submit a personal statement. Why then am I finding writing a teeny weeny synopsis so difficult?

Perhaps it’s because, unlike all the jobs I have applied for in the past, I didn’t really mind if I got the job or not. Now, all I can think about is getting this right.

I would genuinely appreciate any thoughts you may have on writing a synopsis. Do you have a particular method? Do you struggle too?

I am sure I’ll get it out sooner or later, but for the moment, consider this a cry for help.


The English language at its best….

Below is a letter of complaint written by an absolute genius. This has been floating around the internet for a long time, but its still a bloody good laugh. If only we could all write like this.

I obviously take no credit for this superb piece of writing, but offer my humble admiration to whoever did. Enjoy.

Dear Cretins,

I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone.

During this three month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions.

Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative, and seek to rectify these difficulties – or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

My initial installation was cancelled without warning or notice, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive at all, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website….how?

I alleviated the boredom to some small degree by playing with my testicles for a few minutes – an activity at which you are no doubt both familiar and highly adept.

The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools – such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum.

Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After several further telephone calls (actually 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks) my modem arrived … a total of six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it.

I estimate that the downtime of your internet servers is roughly 35%…these are usually the hours between about 6pm and midnight, Monday to Friday, and most of the useful periods over the weekend.

I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 telephone calls on my mobile to your no-help line this week, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highly skilled bollock jugglers.

I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back), that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back), that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off), that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed), that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman…. and several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle-moments to attend to.

Frankly I don’t care, it’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music.

Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

I thought BT were shit, that they had attained the holy piss-pot of god-awful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there?

How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are.

You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum – incompetents of the highest order. British Telecom – wankers though they are – shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy pus-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy.

Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you do likewise, and cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver – any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief – although these feelings will quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps a small measure of bemused rage.

I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cat’s litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you, and your pointless company.

I sincerely hope that they have not become dessicated during transit – they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture.

Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL, and its worthless employees.

Have a nice day – may it be the last in your miserable short life, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twats.

Yours psychotically,

I need a muse (To the tune of Bonnie Tyler’s….)

I have a few writing projects on the go at the moment.

I’m desperately trying to finish my Bridport entry for one. I also have several short stories I want to enter into other competitions and I have one other project of which I can’t say much about at this time. The wife reads this. I think she does anyway. Sorry for all the hush hush. All will be made clear in a few months.

I suppose many wannabe pen monkeys feel this way from time to time. There are simply not enough hours and those that I do manage to take for myself are devoid of any writers inspiration.

I’ve read that to be truly successful, or at least to have any chance of sampling a single iota of success, you have to be a be able to write any time. Otherwise how would you ever stick to a schedule?

So I’m going to go and sit down at my desk now. I’m going to take a bottle of wine with me and then I’m going to punch that keyboard until the word count bleeds. I don’t care what comes out. Who knows? It could be the best stuff I’ve done to date.

Man, that says a lot about my talent doesn’t it?


Head in the Cloud

WordPress for the iPhone?

Sure I’ll give it a go. I like the ability to be able to write as the mood takes me. Also, I’m finding that writing on the iPhone is really really easy. The physical act of tapping into a keyboard is what I mean. I love how the phone switches to landscape mode as I turn it on it’s side, presenting me with a full qwerty keyboard. This is great!

I read a few reviews about this app before I downloaded it and they didn’t look to promising. I have to say that I don’t know what the problem is. Writing on this thing is so easy. Now I just wish inspiration would come as easy.

As per usual I’m sitting in a carpark in my ambulance. I’m a coiled spring, just waiting for someone to dial 999 so that I can launch onto action. I am so bored.

Or at least I was. I’ve only just worked out that I get free wifi via The Cloud as part of my iphone package. Now I can sit here and watch endless YouTube. Better than that even, I can sit and research my next app acquisition! This is precisely how I stumbled across the WordPress app actually.

I used to use WordPress on my blackberry but it was hard and difficult endeavour – tapping away on it’s tiny little buttons… Oh the hand cramp was so bad after a long typing session. Thank god for the iPhone and WordPress, working seamlessly with me to bring sheer blogging ease and bliss.

Yup, I think this is the start of a beautiful threesome.

M 😉

I say, my head hurts awful bad…

I spent the whole day writing today. I had to really after stumbling across a short story competition the day before yesterday.

Ideally I would have liked to have spent a little while boozing and pondering an idea. Then I should of liked to spend a day or two bashing it out in draft before leaving it in a drawer to fester for a month or so.

That would have been ideal.

Yet life’s not fair like that is it? So, I spent all of today bashing out a random story, stressing and generally being rather unpleasant to be around. Got the damn thing finished and submitted though. Yeah biiiiatch!

So its in now and worrying about what I did or didn’t do won’t matter a damn. Sure I might re-read the submission I sent, probably several times. I may even find some glaring grammatical errors but so what? Practice is all it is at the end of the day.

I hold little hope for my effort but I’ll still watch the forum with interest to see who did do well.

I go now to mope and generally feel sorry for myself.

Bye for now.

M 😉

On Plot

I have been giving a lot of thought to this infuriating concept they call plot.

It seems to me that aspiring writers the world over are sitting in bars and cafes mulling over a million ideas, discarding most and running with others. They get excited when a new idea seems to be panning out well – they blast off maybe a thousand words with barely a moments respite. They construct an entire outline within a few minutes interwoven with various sub plots and interweaving arcs and laugh to themselves at the thought that this is the one – this one will be a novel.

Then reality rears its irritating face and spits in your creative broth.

Your idea has been done before.

Not only that but as you research a little more you discover that not only has it been done before, its been done better.

Or has it?

Maybe their plot was a little better but that does not mean that all is lost.

Let me explain.

The chances of coming up with a completely new idea that has never been done before are few and far between. Its not impossible of course. Not by a long way. After all, we are only hindered by our own lack of imagination.

My point is that instead of waiting for that blockbuster idea to crop up and rock the Earth with its originality, I suggest you just write.


Need an example do you? Okay, let’s take Twilight.

Now first and foremost I have to say that I am not a fan of Twilight. Vampires, Ms Meyer, do not bloody well sparkle.

Books and stories about vampires and werewolves have been done a thousand times over. What makes Twilight different is it’s point of view. The world is seen through the ideas of a teenage girl, bubbling over with teen angst, lust and general girly emotion. It fulfils a niche in the market by anyone’s reckoning.

That’s all that Ms Meyer has done differently. She has not come up with some earth shattering plot. No, instead she’s just told and old story from a different point of view.

Her characters are interesting and the underlying feelings of lust and want keep readers turning pages.

So why not give it a go?

Take a well known myth or fairytale and change the point of view. When you do this you’ll notice that your characters, particularly your protagonist, will have a very different goal than the one you previously associated the story with.

Just a thought. What do you think?

M 😉

Share the Love

I want to say thank you to a fellow blogger. As is the life of those who aspire to write, its only natural you’ll take the odd knock and feel as though your not getting anywhere.

Most will persevere, keep going, and rise above it, content in the knowledge that its all just part of the process.

Yet it helps to have others who are in the same boat as you, perhaps on a similar journey offer a helping hand and some friendly encouragement.

I want to extend a thank you to the author of a blog called The Good Twin. Although it was likely only a passing comment left on my page, it made my day. Incidentally it was also for a post that received the most views I have ever had.

So thank you, Josh.

As a result of this kindly chap stopping by my site, I have returned to blogging with a renewed vigour. Long may it last.

In way of payment I am going to make an effort to read more blogs in my area of interest and try and share the love a bit. I feel good and I’d like to spark that same feeling in others. Especially those who diligently tap away at a cold keyboard, a ghost to the world but for their fleeting bursts of creative output.

I feel for those people, and I’m going to find them.

Share the love people.


Tools of the Trade

I’ve decided to go back and learn the basics of the English language.

It occurred to me the other day as I was listening to an audio cd about how to write good English. The author was one William Zinsser, and to be honest the guy really knows his stuff. His honesty and no nonsense approach to writing really struck a chord with me and I feel the guy talks a lot of sense.

He talks about a writer’s tools – the words we use, use of grammar and punctuation. These are tools we gather and learn to use as we grow as writers.

After listening I was left feeling two things. The first was that I had not gathered many tools during my relatively short and sporadic writing life. The second was that those that I have acquired are blunt, not fit-for-purpose and even, I dare say, broken.

So I’ve decided to go right back to basics. I’m currently re learning from scratch all about nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunction, pre positions, adverbs, and all sorts of other crap I didn’t even know existed.

My hope is that I will at the least fill my toolbox with fresh, new, and purpose ready tools that will allow me to form good coherent sentences.

At the end of the day I want my writing to be clear, simple and easy to understand. I don’t want to fill my pages with unnecessary clutter and make my readers experience a boring one.

So that should take care of the basics. After that its all down to experience. The only way to improve is to keep plugging away and getting those words down on paper or screen.

You can see where this is going can’t you? I have been lazy. I have not shown the self-discipline necessary to be taken seriously as a writer.

Well, there’s only one way to change that.


At Long Last….

I’ve done it. I’ve finally finished my submission to the Black Library.

It’s such a strange feeling. I have about as much chance of getting anywhere with it as anyone else I’d imagine, and may even never hear anything of it… but at least I’ve tried.

I feel really good at having finally completed and submitted something that I’m kinda pleased with. So good in fact that at this moment I really don’t think I care if it does well or not. Okay, of course I care. I’m just happy with the achievement as it is right now.

Anyway, its time to get back to the land of the living.

Bye for now.

M 🙂

Is there a muse in the house?

I am having a bloody awful time writing today. The words just won’t come. Or is that the problem? Maybe, it’s the idea I’m stuck on. I am desperately trying to submit a few stories to the Black Library’s open submissions thingy yet I just can’t seem to come up with a good idea. I could damn well scream.

This morning I woke up with a fucking blinding idea. I thought to myself ‘This is the one! This is the one I am going to submit because it’s just so freaking awesome.’ I must have compiled maybe a page worth of notes in under five minutes. I’m not talking random ideas either. I’m talking a beginning, middle and end. I’m talking full plot outline baby. Everything was going to be alright, I could almost feel I was catapulting myself into a better life via my Trebuchet of awe-inspiring talent.


At some point after I had compiled my notes I went to take a shit. Nothing strange there. I took a book though. I mean I always take a book, but this one shattered my whole mornings work. Well, you know… that whole five minutes of notes. I have read just about everything I can get my hands on that has been printed by the Black Library. I was supremely confident I knew all of the major events in the 40K universe, all the major characters, plot lines, story arcs… the fucking lot. Yet, the book I sat down on my throne to read this morning was a collection of short stories only recently compiled by the Black Library. I started reading the first story and my world dropped out of my arse. Literally in fact.

That was my fucking story!

Well, apparently it was their fucking story. Imagine if I had sent the bloody thing off. I’m fairly sure I would have been done for plagiarism. They were that similar.


Oh well, there is always tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be visited in my sleep by this elusive muse person/thing. We’ll have to see I guess.