Monday, May 10, 2010

A sweaty juggler with too many pointy balls...

Been talking synopses with a writing friend over the last few days. These are slippery little suckers that are hard to tame and control. But I love discussing these things because it always seems to bring more clarity to the subject and I just briefly want to mention here a few things I reckon you should leave out and a few things that I believe are best to include. And remember a synopsis is a summary of your story. This is not the same as the 'essence', the hook or what you would write on the back cover if your manuscript becomes a book (aka the blurb). Don't include back story or detail. Your synopsis should be succinct (which is a euphemism for no back story and no detail). You won't have space for minor plot developments and peripheral characters either. Do include the answers to the following questions. Who is the main character, what problem/dliemma do they encounter, how do they respond, what happens to solve the problem/dilemma? Do write the synopsis in a way which demonstrates the style and voice of the story. Even though its one of your tools for winning over an agent/publisher the synopsis is not the same as a pitch. A pitch is about the essence of your story and this is where you wow them with the hook before they say yes to you giving them the synopsis and manuscript. Your synopsis demonstrates that your story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and that you know what's important, which will tell the agent/publisher something about you as a writer. More and more, synopses are becoming an essential part of the submission process.

I came across some very juicy links this morning. Loved this uplifting post on famous rejectees that includes the content of some of their reject letters at the examiner's blog via the always interesting and/or hilarious Rejectionist. It made me quit whining for at least five minutes about having had five rejections for one manuscript for which my writer friends have been most grateful. Another fab link today is at writer Nicola Morgan's blog, Help, I need a publisher - When is an idea not a book. Its a good post on where writers get ideas but also discusses the difference between idea and story. This post was particularly pertinent for me after my last post where I wittered on about fictionalising a true story (I should have said true experience). No matter how meaty this experience was I know that it is not in itself a good book without some control exerted over how events unfold, what these events tell us about the characters, and how things are resolved in a satisfying way for the reader. And all this must happen whilst I honour the true events and experiences and demonstrate their importance. While honouring the experience is essential, this experience cannot be shared without acknowledging and satisfying the reader as well. And its worth sharing. I feel like a sweaty juggler with too many pointy balls....heh...fun!

1 comment:

A Certain Book said...

Hi Melinda,
I like sweaty jugglers. I'm working on my synopsis at present and find your advice timely and helpful. I always enjoy popping in to see your own writing progress and the many tips you offer on the writing process. Thanks so much.