Thursday, March 31, 2011

Evil Naughty Bad Synopsis!

In order to query certain agents, I have to have a 2–3 page synopsis of my novel. I tried writing one earlier, and I was up to 2 1/2 pages and had not even gotten past chapter three. I was doing something terribly wrong. It had started to read like I was rewriting the book, except this time it had no voice, no lyricism, and was concocted by a fifth-grade dullard. For example (not from my actual book):

Tom gets up. He turns the door handle. He opens the door. He goes outside. He is suddenly attacked by a meerkat!

So I tried again. This time better:

Tom is attacked by a meerkat!

But basically, this whole thing sucketh. I thought writing a query was tough, but this is horrendous. How can I possibly explain the intricacies involved in minor character C's small action which lead to very large revelations, which will play out about six chapters later? How can I include the various time travel sequences in my middle-grade novel, which are integral to the plot but in a synopsis would read as if I wrote it while riding on a tilt-o-whirl, drinking shots, and shouting "whee!"

After attempting this I have realized one nice thing: my novel does not lack in complexity. It has foreshadowing in Chapter One that only pays off at the very end. It is an intelligent person's novel. It defies easy observation. It is a clever tapestry in which, if I untie one thread, the whole might fall apart.

Damn it!

(That was kinda dumb of me to write a novel like that. Maybe I should have tried a debut book such as Billy and Boopsie's Trip to the Grocery Store, Little Cub Gets Lost, or How to Make A Sandwich?)

I would like to trot out this naughty synopsis in the public square and give it a good flogging, as it has been bad, and has treated me unkindly. Maybe a night in the stocks will serve it well. Yes. Yes. I will show it to the Time Out chair and let it know I mean business. It will gaze at me with red, angry eyes, however, and it will win. I will have to finish it.

Right now we are in a stand-off, and I do not like the rude looks it is giving me. 


Mindy McGinnis said...

Writing a synopsis is the epitome of nasty bad things. I managed with mine, but mostly due to extreme beta intervention.

If you're not already on come check it out. Great place to air your dirty synopsis.

Anita said...

Poor girl! I share your hatred for the evil synopsis, to the Nth degree.

The best advice I ever got for writing one, is forget all of the subplots and sub characters. Concentrate only on the hero's journey. A good way to do that is to go on Wikipedia and read the synops of a few books or even movies. They strip it down to bare bones, and if it's books/movies you're familiar with, it can help you see what parts they left out.

And from one writer of complexity to another, I applaud you. I love books that make a reader think and feel their way through. I'm looking so forward to reading yours! Now, go show that synopsis who's boss.

Jenny Phresh said...

Thanks for the tips, my friends! Very useful. I will engage with the beast anon.

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sarah said...

I love this post! I'm embarrassed about my synopsis. I tried posting it for critique and no one commented. I haven't even wanted to share it with my beta readers. On my computer desktop I keep it in a hidden folder of old things I stay away from.

When agents ask to see a synopsis I cringe. If I do send it, it's always the last thing included. I know I should edit some more. Pin that sucker down, but man. I pray that by some miracle I'll get an agent based off my full alone and can forget all about the two page pile of yeck.

Anonymous said...

I', sure you'll win this one, you wrote the thing, after all! Go teach it a lesson ;)