Thursday, May 13, 2010

Possibilites for fudge reduction...

Further to my witterings on synopses I just wanted to make a mention of an interesting phenomenon I have observed. This is the synopsis written before the book is finished. Sometimes we do it to try and submit and sell the book before completion. Sometimes we do it to enter the incomplete ms in a competition or short window of publishing opportunity that requires only the synopsis and a writing sample - the closing date is zooming toward you at a rate of knots and it takes them at least three months plus to judge or make a decision - you're sure you can get the sucker finished before your fabulous win/contract is announced. For some writers this is how they always do business. Their synopses are perfectly formed mini-me's of their planned novel. They've sold countless works based on synopses alone. This, however, is not me. I am guilty of perpetrating the afore-mentioned phenomenon. And for a while I thought it was only me. But I have recently had evidence that other writers do it too. And what is 'it' you might ask. Well folks its the 'fudged' synopsis. You've written at least half your novel. You know roughly how its going to end, but you're not entirely sure how you're going to get there. As a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantser I like to keep things a little vague. I feel like I actually get a better result that way. If my novel is too prescribed it loses some of the magic and it becomes boring to write and assuredly boring to read. The problem here, of course, is that when you try summarise something not yet written, the vagueness shows. Publishers must recognize that fudge factor. They must know your manuscript is not yet finished. And I didn't appreciate this until I read someone else's fudged synopsis. I could easily tell the novel was not yet finished just by looking at the synopsis. Now the big daring question I'm going to pose here is - does it matter? I'm thinking it depends on the novel. If the story idea is strong and the writing is strong and they like the story and the writing in the sample, and you look like you know what you're doing I'm picking it might not matter. It might depend on who the publishers/judges are. If they are keen on a completed novel then it will matter but you won't have been finished in time to submit/enter anyway - nothing ventured, nothing lost. Is there a way around this? If you work as I do, then the possibilites for fudge reduction are not great, although over time I think the quality of my fudging has improved. I guess the bottom line is there may be no solution, there may be no issue, but it pays to put yourself in their shoes sometimes to see how your submission is received. I'm going to assume that if my novel isn't finished when I submit it, they can probably tell. That won't make me stop submitting unfinished stories if thats the best course of action at the time but I have to appreciate that they know and what that knowledge might mean.

1 comment:

Old Kitty said...

Oh gosh - if I fudge it'll be so glaringly obvious that I'm fudging! I don't have the knack of the fudging as yet!! Has it got to do with confidence too? If you know your story - rather the idea for your story (even if you don't know where it's going or how it's going to pan out or how it's going to end) is good - darn it! - then it'll show even if the synopses is smudged, wouldn't it?

I hope so!!

Good luck with yours!

take care