Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Synopsis

I hate synopsis writing. If you tell me you love it then I'd like your email, your address, AND your phone number, because the rest of the world will want you writing theres (but you'll have to start with mine).

I'm learning a lot a long the way but it doesn't mean it is written overnight. I may be a fast writer but the editing stages are brutal.

My main issue is not showing the progression of my main character. A few minor tweaks and I'll finally be good to go.... thanks to all those who looked at my work (you know who you are!!)

So I've decided to write a letter to the dreaded synopsis, after all, if they don't know what they're doing wrong how can they fix it?

Dear Synopsis,

What's your problem? Day in and day out you stare me down with your blank white soul. You like to make it difficult. Here I wrote a whole damn book and how do you repay me? By making me figure out how to put it on  1-5 pages. Isn't there any easier way?

What... I'm not supposed to blaming you? Who then? Oh, the outline? I'll have you know Outline worked her tail off and she seemed to have no problem setting chapters up for me. Of course, I didn't follow it word for word! I'm a writer! A creative genius! I don't have to follow every thing I write for myself.

Me? You're telling me I'm the problem? Holy pancake I can't believe you! I suppose this proves you'll always be an evil piece of paper.

Evil genius? No, you'll never be an evil genius.

Walking away,
Jen

So how do you cope while writing a synopsis? Do you write a troubling letter? Work through it? Are you the one who loves them (leave my blog and nobody gets hurt)...

31 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

I just write them out as a kid would tell a story to begin with, i.e. this happens, and then because of this, that happens, blah blah blah. Then I fix it to make it sound like I didn't hire a kindergartner to do my work ;o)

Talli Roland said...

Love it, Jen! :)

And no, I didn't mean the synopsis. I detest the silly sods. Good luck!

Slamdunk said...

I doubt you'll get many emails with contact info for the lovers of the synopsis.

With anything else that I would not like to do, I would grit my teeth, complain some, and then try to break it into baby steps.

Christine Murray said...

I would prefer to write 15,000 words of novel than 1,000 words of synopsis. Just finished one, and I still haven't quite gotten over it.

Anne Gallagher said...

Synopsis are a pain in the patootie, but I've found if I just take the "big" thing (turning point, character realization, plot bang, whatever is the biggest thing) in the chapter and then writer one or two sentences about it, I have a 'working thesis'.

After that, I break it down into paragraphs, then add and subtract what I want to keep and what I don't. It may take a couple of tries, but isn't that what it's all about -- revision. Best of luck.

Laura M. Campbell said...

One word: Traumatizing. I wrote a synopsis for a writing conference that turned into a total disaster. Just the idea of a synopsis struck enough fear in me to cause my brain to stop functioning. Good luck!

Amanda Leigh Cowley said...

I love writing the synopsis, it's my favourite part of the whole book. As I'm approaching the finish line of a novel I look forward to the moment I can finally begin synopsising(?)

(...and if you believe that, you'll believe anything!)

Nicki Elson said...

Boo, synopsis! You know what? I don't even like reading them.

Somewhere here in Blogland I read what I thought was a rather smart idea...eh, it's a little late for you in this particular case, and um, I'm not even currently following the advice, buuut...it was suggested to write the synopsis before writing the story (to be revised after story is written, of course), while your mind's focused on the big picture and not cluttered w/ the details. Maybe next novel. ;)

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm not a big fan of the synopsis, but it's the query that's the bane of my existence. If you write a letter to queries, please cc me.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Oh I HATE writing synopsises. Wish I had some advice. It's kind of like ripping off a bandaid for me. I reduce each chapter down to few sentences and then try and duct tape them together into something coherent.

Tracey L. Bentley said...

Love the letter and I doubt you'll find many who enjoy writing a synopsis. It's a scary thought just thinking about it. (And now, I'm definitely going to have to use phrase "Holy pancake" sometime during my day!)

Laura Marcella said...

Haven't written a synopsis, but it reminds me of annotated bibliographies. Ever have to write those in high school or college? Ick. Though when it was finally done, it sure did help write the actual research paper because all your sources and research and how you were going to bring it all together was right there. I imagine once the horrible synopsis is done, it'll help you see your novel with better focus!

Good luck, Jen! Sending you virtual cupcakes!!!

Carolyn V said...

Ha! I love your letter to your synop! I'm not a big fan of the synop, it drives me crazy!

Chris Phillips said...

I liked writing mine, but you can't have my number. Try writing it in 1st person and then converting the details to third.

Johanna Garth said...

Boy can I relate to this post. synopsis are synonomous with dread to me too!

Julianna said...

Maybe you could have someone new read your novel and then retell it to you while you record it??? Tell them you really want them to focus on the growth of the MC. Or brush up on short story reading? They are great at getting to main action without losing voice.

Good luck! But maybe I'll start writing my synopsis now!

mshatch said...

I concur. Outline? No problem. Synopsis? Hate. Plus the ones I've been sending are supposed to be no more than TWO pages!!!

Deana said...

Hate em too! So bad! You letter nailed it for me though I can't walk away so easily. Maybe I'll fight that blank piece of paper, give it a good smack, show it who's boss. Oh, I'm so not the boss when it comes to the synopsis:(

Teenage Bride said...

ew another English lesson I hated in school haha

Nicole Zoltack said...

I dislike writing synopsis but I find them easier than queries. Query letters are my penance.

ajkulig said...

I am one of those freaks that like them--but alas I am way to busy to write them for everyone else. ;) I think the problem is people don't have fun with them, if you make them boring as possible of course everyone is going to hate them.

As of last week I am up to 4 agents having told me that they enjoyed my synopsis. I think that is because I view them as sort of a challenge--an enjoyable one--and try and get the voice of my MS into it.

My biggest issue is no one ever wants the same length of a synopsis!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Synopsis are sheer evil. Evil in its purest form.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't love them! I rewrote mine two dozen times.

Donea Lee said...

Lol...blank white soul...ain't that the truth!!! :) Too funny. I've only written (or, well...attempted) one and it's more or less:

Ok, so this is how it starts...
And then this happened...
And then MC did this...
And then this happened...
And it might just end a little like this...

Yeah, good stuff. :)

lindy said...

Synopsis? What do you mean? Never heard of it. (See how I did that? Denial is my best friend) It takes me forever to write a synopsis, I STINK at writing them and would rather go in for a lobotomy. There's five bucks and a box of Cocoa Puffs in it for you if you find someone who both likes, and is willing, to expertly write one of those puppy's up for us!

Jennie Bailey said...

The first draft of a synopsis is always easy for me. I walk away from it feeling pleased as punch with myself. Then I email it out to four trusty friends and...get it back all marked up with a ton of suggestions to make it stronger. And I mean a ton. Not so pleased as punch when I open them. But so very, very grateful for all the help. It's not as easy as it should be to write those suckers. In fact, I'll take query writing over synopsis writing any day of the week. Someone told me once to tell yourself the story over and over and over again before you even start writing the book, then when you are done you have that original story for a synopsis. Riiiiiight. It doesn't even slightly resemble my final book. So, no help there! Cute letter, Jen. And I love Jessica's suggestion!

Melissa Pearl said...

Brilliant letter :) I know just how you feel.

I feel like I spend more time stressing over writing the synopsis than I do the entire manuscript!

The thing I find hardest is that condensing it down so much takes away all the colour and fun of the story - that's what it feels like anyway.

How do you keep it exciting when you have describe a entire chapter's worth in one sentence?

Good luck with yours. I know you can do it.

Steph Schmidt said...

You should try looking at the Random Thoughts Blog. Cynthia is running a thing to submit synopsis and get help via herself and the community (sort of like Query Shark but for synopses).

Sarah Pearson said...

I got nothing Jen, except the promise of hugs and cupcakes when you get out the other side :)

Caitlin said...

I cope by not writing one. Hehe I haven't written one in quite a while. I'm terrible at them.

Kate Swenson said...

I write a big ugly one and then stage a What Not To Share Makeover!