Sunday, May 16, 2010

The pain of writing a synopsis

If you think finishing a full novel is hard, wait until you begin working on the synopsis. If you have any aspirations of submitting to an agent or publisher, it’s essential to have a 2 to 5 page breakdown of all the major events and characters from the novel you’ve finished. If you plan to self-publish, you can breathe a sigh of relief because you won’t have to endure this headache.
To condense your 60k to 120k novel to five pages is a grueling experience. Trust me. Ask any writer and ninety-five percent of the time they’ll say the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from writing a synopsis. There are some advantages to squeezing your entire manuscript down to a few pages. There will come times when you’re asked, “Can you tell me about your book?”

The question can come from an agent. If so, you only have small window to impress this person with as little words as possible. Think of this description as an extended book blurb. After sitting down for hours or days of mulling over what to put into the synopsis, a verbal thirty second description should be a piece of cake. This extended blurb rule also applies to drawing in potential readers for your novel. The synapses in a person’s brain suddenly stops functioning when he/she listens to long, drawn out descriptions.

Though I know it’s important, it doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely hate writing the synopsis. Putting my disdain for writing one aside, when everything is said and done, I always appreciate having one ready. A synopsis can be a useful tool for recalling key elements in a story when I begin work on sequels. And now that I finished my ranting about writing a synopsis, can you guess what I’m about to do? Oh well… (Sigh)

No one ever said it was easy being a writer.

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