Monday, October 15, 2007

Synopses and Me

I can write articles, short stories, and novels without batting an eye. But when it comes to writing a synopsis, I can feel my stress levels going through the roof. I'm sure there are a ton of writers out there who have the same problem. If anyone knows of a cure for synopsis anxiety, please share it with writers everywhere! I know I could use it.
I'm currently trying to write a one-page synopsis for a 58,000 word book. How on earth do you take 58,000 words and condense the story to one page in such a way that everyone wants to read it? Good question. I'm on my sixth version of the synopsis and it still runs onto a second page. I have someone helping me with it, and we're both stumped on how to shorten the thing. Complex plots make great novels, but they're a nightmare for a short synopsis. Of course, if I wrote from an outline, that might help. But I start with a vague idea and usually have no clue where the story's going until it gets there. The main problem I run into is figuring out what counts as the main plot. I learned through critique groups that I'm too close to my writing to look at it objectively, which is why someone who's never read the book is the perfect person to help me with the synopsis. They're able to look at it and say, "This doesn't need to be here." When I see the things they suggest taking out, I'm able to see that the points really don't need to be in the synopsis. Without that objective eye, though, I'd have a fifteen-page synopsis that's filled with unnecessary things.
I've read many resources on synopsis writing, asked other writers a ton of questions, and studied sample synopses. All of that has taught me a lot about what a synopsis should look like, but the main thing I've learned is that the synopsis will always be the bane of my writerly existence.

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