Crit partners are GOLD – and just as hard to find. You have to find people who are equal or better writers than you, and who want the same kind of crits that you do. You may go through a lot of partners before you find the right ones!
I’ve always done in-person crit groups. Places to look include conferences, local writers orgs, bulletin boards at my college, bulletin boards at the library, and among friends, classmates, and coworkers with the same interests. Every group is a little different – different personalities, different meeting schedule, different set up, different expectations. Like I said, you have to keep looking until you find people who click!
Very. A synopsis is a description of your novel’s plot and character arcs, including the ending. Its purpose is to convince an agent or publisher that you know how to organize and pace a novel. In this case, of course, you’re using it to make sure your organization and pacing are solid BEFORE you approach an agent or publisher.
The most common length for a synopsis is 1000 words – two pages, single spaced. It’s not uncommon to be asked for other lengths, however. I’ve seen everything from one double-spaced page to ten double-spaced pages. You don’t have to worry about length at this point.
–Do NOT do a chapter-by-chapter summary.
–Imagine how you would tell the story to a friend. A synopsis is similar.
–Focus on the main plot line and the character arcs of the main characters. Simplify if you need to.
–Do not include every subplot or every character. Mention as few names as possible. For secondary characters than need to be mentioned, use relationship descriptions instead like JIM’S MOTHER as much as possible. Rule of thumb, only 5 or fewer names, CAPPED on first use.
–Writing counts. Like the query, write the synopsis in third-person even if the novel is in first-person. Make sure the synopsis reflects the style and voice of the novel, but again like the query, don’t write it from the point of view or voice of a specific character. (Again, don’t stress too much about this for this version.)
–Have people who are unfamiliar with your book read your synopsis and give you feedback. Note where they got confused and what they had questions about. You don’t want to leave an agent confused.
–Answer ALL of the reviewers questions to their satisfaction, and rewrite until reviewers are satisfied. If you are unable to answer their questions or they are confused by or dissatisfied with the answers, you may well have discovered a problem in the manuscript. This is a GOOD thing, even though it’s painful at the time.
One of the differences between a newbie amateur and a professional writer is a desire to get better, even when that requires rewriting that novel for the third, fourth, or tenth time. Painful feedback SUCKS, but it makes you better.
It’s also a necessity if you’re going to successfully traditionally publish. If your reviewers are identifying holes in your story, it’s a given that an agent or publisher will. Listen to that niggle in your gut: fix the problems before you submit and blow your chance with an agent.