Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Synopses: A Writer's Bane [Also, my Internet is Evil]

[Would have posted this hours ago, but my internet was down, and nothing I did could dissuade it from its evilness. But it's back now, half an hour before I leave the house.]

Here’s the thing about writing a synopsis, in my experience: there are just some lengths of summary that are nigh impossible for me. [This might also apply to short stories, too, come to think of it.] A query letter requires about one paragraph, short, to the point, catchy—it grabs the agents’ attention and gives them a sense of who the protagonist is, the author’s voice, and what makes the writer’s story different from others.

A two-page synopsis gives the writer (re: me) a chance to describe the story in more detail. Two full pages are about enough from something just slightly less detailed than a chapter-by-chapter rundown. [I keep a chapter-by-chapter chronology just for my own knowledge, to help cut down inconsistencies, but that ends up around 3-4 pages.] Truthfully, it’s about 2 and a half to 3 pages, but about 2 after editing.

Here’s the thing, or me personally, I don’t think I could write a one-page synopsis (well, maybe I could, but it would take some extra doing). Like short stories, I can write one paragraph, and I can give you a couple of pages, but one page ends up in that weird limbo space. I find it a challenge to teeter on the balance between general statements because there isn’t much space, and small details to give you a sense of distinction in character and world-building.

I’ve finished my synopsis for Hounds, the urban fantasy I’m querying agents with. It started off, first draft, at about three pages (2 and ¾). Now I’m editing, cutting out what doesn’t seem as necessary while still giving readers a full sense of the story. I think one point that should be made with synopses, is that the reader shouldn’t be left thinking, “How did we get from A to 3?” Leave out the smaller scenes, but make sure even the synopsis tells a coherent story.

At least, that’s what I’m hoping to achieve with my own.

Happy writing everyone,


Victoria Dixon said...

What everyone kept telling me about my synopsis was, while I had captured the essence of my plot, I had failed to convey the story's poetry. I have a lyrical style and it likes to stretch out. I had to add dialogue and a little character introspection to the synopsis or my style vanished. Just a thought. Thanks for coming by!

Sabrina said...

I didn't really think about the style or adding dialogue. That's a good point. I did try to emphasize important turning points in the story, add a bit of style in that sense.

I have it at a good length now, so I think I'll go through it another time (at least once more! heh) and see if I can't give it a bit more life. Thanks.