When I first decided I wanted to be a professional author, way back when I was 14, I was horrified to learn that I was gonna need to write a synopsis of my opus. Seriously? I was going to have to somehow DIMINISH the fantastic? This was in addition to the flail inducing QUERY LETTER. These things struck terror in my little teenaged heart, so when I submitted that first book, it was to a couple of publishing houses that took unsolicited manuscripts–just so I could avoid having to SUMMARIZE the awesome that was my story. The fact that I got some nice comments on the rejection letter from the then-editor at Harper Collins’ children’s line was nothing short of a miracle (yes, way back in 1994, they did actually take unsolicited manuscripts).
Even as a grown up and and responsible writer, I really dreaded having to synopsize. Instead of diminishing…what we SHOULD be doing is CONCENTRATING the awesome. I don’t know about you, but the unique voice I have in prose absolutely does not translate in a summary. Which leaves what is otherwise a truly great (I know, you thought I was gonna say awesome again, didn’t you?) story sounding flat and bleh. How could anybody possibly make a judgment based on THAT?
Then I went indie and the issue of synopsis was really tabled except for the blueprints of the story themselves that I used for plotting and story planning purposes. Those didn’t have to sound GOOD to anybody…they just had to make sense to me and the Pink Hammer (Pot’s alter ego who must approve the logic before I move forward or I usually wind up having to redo vast quantities of STUFF).
Fast forward to now. I have an agent, who loves my work, whom I acquired through nothing resembling the usual channels. And now I have to write a synopsis. Because, you know, she needs one to show my awesome to the big boys who might want to buy it.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not COMPLAINING. This is a great problem to have. I am GRATEFUL to be here. But maybe I’m whining–just a little.
It’s not like I don’t know what the story is ABOUT, which is a common problem of synopsis haters. Often the resistance is because you must drill down to the essence of the story and lots of writers, particularly newbies, don’t know how to DO that yet. I have, thankfully, moved beyond that point. I know exactly what the story is about, and I know almost exactly what’s going to happen. The challenge is making it SOUND GOOD in 3-5 pages or whatever it was I was told (must go check email).
Granted, Laurie did not tell me it had to be perfect, and was totally cool to my sending bulleted lists to get the essence o’ Kait and my process (because she’s awesome like that). And it’s not like she’s said she must have it RIGHT NOW. But y’all know me. Top of my class. OVERACHIEVER. Really. My high school resume was 4 pages. We won’t talk about the length of my professional vitae. Which means I want to take my bulleted list (that truthfully probably only makes sense to me and to Pot because she’s worked with me for so long), and turn it into something AMAZING. Something that will make anybody who reads it say, “HOLY CRAP, YES, I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK!!!” (and its pipe dream corollary of “And I’m willing to give you a massive 6 figure advance to do it!)
So now that I’m back to Red and moving forward at something approximating my normal pace of productivity again (should finish the FPP today!), I really need to sit down and work on this synopsis thing. Anybody got advice on how to get from point A to point Z? You know, other than ye classic “Just do it.” How did YOU get over your phobia of synopsis?