Sunday, August 8, 2010
Finally! A Synopsis Technique That May Work
When I first heard this word in the writing world, I was naive and totally ignorant of how important it is in the submission process. Condense my forty thousand word novel into a two page summary? Sure, no problem. Then reality reared its ugly head. The synopsis is not just a quick summary. My first synopsis was dry, full of facts, and boring. Even I wouldn't want to read that novel but I sent it out and sure enough, no one else wanted to read it either.
I did a lot of research, looked at lots of samples, and I learned a few facts.
The synopsis should:
1. cover the entire novel
2. retain the flavor of the author's voice
3. prove that the author is a storyteller
4. be written in the present tense
5. be an excellent sales pitch
6. be short because editors and agents don't have a lot of time
7. be formatted properly
Length, formatting, and present tense is nothing to fret over, but the first three shoulds are a lot tougher. If they hit the mark then number 5 is automatically successful. I've written another synopsis for a new novel over and over and over again. Instinctively, even though it improved with each new version, I knew that some magic little element was missing. I kept going back to my WIP for a few days to get it off my mind before trying again.
Then early one morning last week, with coffee in hand, I sat down to try again. I took a sip holding the cup with both hands and stared at it. There it was, the magic little element, the same imagination that carried my character through all her laughter and perils. Why hadn't I thought of something like this before?
I visualized a clatch of neighborhood women in my kitchen settling in to indulge themselves in delicious coffee and juicy gossip. They had dropped everything to rush over because I had learned the real story of what happened to the old lady, the nosy little girls, and the night police cars swarmed the neighborhood with flashing lights and sirens screaming.
I began typing as if I were telling the story to them and this synopsis took on a life of its own. It was actually fun to write and because women don't have too much time to hang around another woman's kitchen, the synopsis was complete at under 2000 words. It's now resting for a few weeks before I polish it and send it out again. I'll let you know if this synopsis results in some requests.
Now, I have to put the coffee on and call those ladies again. I have the real scoop about the teenager, the accident victim, and the intruder who comes in at night while everyone is sleeping, moves objects around, and leaves without detection.