Friday, July 30, 2010

The Headache of a Synopsis

Sipping afternoon tea I ponder the current projects I have on the go and the post Cow Girl in New England had on her blog this morning. It was by guest author David Bridger, whose just had his book "Beauty and the Bastard" published. Now, although his book is not something I would be interested in as it's totally not my style, his post was interesting. It was all about writing a synopsis and how he writes it as he goes rather than trying to condense the whole novel into something manageable at the end.

A synopsis is what a writer sends to an editor along with a cover letter and the first 3 chapters of their novel (depending on the publishers submission requirements). It shows the editor what the story arc is, where it's going and how it ends. An important piece all things considered.

I've always found synopsis writing to be an interesting and daunting task. Interesting because everyone has a different idea of how to write one and what the outcome should look like. Daunting because it is pure hell to try and condense a 67,000 word story into 2 pages. Attempting to figure out what details to put in and what to cut, especially when the story has 4 main characters and 3 narrators! AND, of course, it's supposed to be written in the same style as the novel.

Despite those difficulties, I have written a synopsis for my novel and I am fairly happy with it. I wrote it between February and March 2009. Actually, I drafted 3 different synopsis and wound up doing something similar to the process Bridger describes. My first, the long synopsis, was 10 pages single spaced. The second, the short synopsis, was 4 pages. finally paring it to 1.5 pages after that. Of course, each editor's view is subjective so there is still no guarantees and I know I will be rewriting it yet again as I revise my work (or at least tweaking it).

1 comment:

  1. Léonie, I admit I actually have no idea what a Canadian editor might like to read as a synopsis but, personally, I doubt if it always makes sense to write the synopsis in the same style as the novel itself.

    Naturally, the editor needs to know the novel´s style but he knows it from your example chapters. And he might also want to know some important things only the author knows? Depending on horizon and reliability of your narrators, there might be a necessity to leave the level of what is explicitly told in the novel itself. So the style of your synopsis would have to change together with its speaker and her (wider) horizon?

    Anyway, either way, don´t do violence to what you really want to say, it doesn´t pay... But I already see, you can do it all. (: