Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Writing a Synopsis...The Dreaded Task



Writing a Synopsis for Your Novel

After enjoying fireworks and champagne in celebration of writing and revising your novel, the party is cut short when you realize you have to write a synopsis. Whether you’re submitting to an agent or editor, there’s no way around needing a synopsis. Along with the first three chapters, a synopsis is probably the most required item when shopping and sending your work. Being the creative type that you are, chances are good that you rank writing a synopsis up there with paying income tax and having a root canal. But have no fear. With the recent completion of my latest WIP, I went straight to the task of writing the blasted tool, skipping the fireworks and champagne all together. Here’s what I learned:


1.       You need a finished product. No need to dive into writing a summary until your draft is polished and has had several read-thrus. When you’re feeling solid and comfortable with where your manuscript is at, then you’re ready for the synopsis.

2.       Your finished manuscript makes it EASY. Yes, I went there with capital letters. With your WIP upgraded to a DMS (Done Manuscript), sit down with a notepad and skim through each chapter, jotting down the major highlights. Put down everything that jumps out to you as important.

3.       Longer is better. No size jokes, please. Once you have your list of highlights, put them together like a recipe and allow 1-2 sentences per highlight. At first, you may find that you have a 10 page outline. Cool. Keep it, because some agents / editors ask for a long synopsis, so you’ll be ready.

4.       “Trim”. Here’s the hard part. Other agents may ask for a brief synopsis (3-4 pages), and some will want a 1-page synopsis. Shave that long version down until you have both.


It took me several days to accomplish this, and I only say that so you can expect to take longer if needed. There’s no rush, because the important thing is capturing the essence of your story. Once you’ve tackled and completed this process yourself, you’ll agree with me that writing a synopsis is no longer the equivalent of battling the Kraken (sans Medusa’s head). Good luck!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Avoiding Quicksand


Meme shared from Weird Hollywood (FB), originally created by John Mulaney


Wasn’t that the truth? If you recall much of anything from 1970s / 1980s TV, how often did quicksand threaten our favorite characters? Somebody was sinking at least once a week. Although I can’t say what most endangers today’s characters (since I don’t watch much episodic TV), this image made me think of writing. Back in the day, ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ when ‘the Butler did it’. I’m not how those phrases originated and became cliché, but any writer sticking to old-time devices, such as opening with the weather, a wedding, or a funeral, should beware! Agents and/or edits might toss that manuscript into the Reject pile, publishing’s version of quicksand. Other no-no’s include an overuse of adjectives and adverbs, too much description (when it’s not vital to moving the plot/characters forward), and subplots that don’t contribute to the character arc or main plot. At a recent monthly meeting, we SiCCOs also learned storylines to currently avoid are sex trafficking and drug lords/mob wars. Some might argue that the vampire, whether sparkling or simply blood sucking, has had his day, along with chick-lit tales. That’s not to say you should burn your story if it involves anything mentioned above. All you have to do is strong-arm your manuscript, Steve Austin-style pretty please, out of that quicksand and give it new life. Sure, you might have to hose it down after, give it a day or two to let the trauma subside, but clean that baby up and go for it!

#amwriting #amediting #writinggoals #writerlife