Saturday, May 29, 2010
A lot of authors postpone writing the synopsis until, well, they can no longer avoid it. Many agents and editors require a synopsis with a query or submission, so alas, it can’t be postponed forever.
For myself, I’ve learned a little trick that helps. You may want to try it. Before you begin your story, write the synopsis. Impossible, you say. I’m a pantser. Well, I am too—a crossover, really, because I plot and it gets changed so much that it’s unrecognizable. However, the real advantage in writing a synopsis first is that it allows you to spot any weakness in the plot, before an agent sees it and sends a form letter your way.
A synopsis is not meant to be a chronicle of events, but rather a distillation of the novel. Forget anything but the main characters. The agent/editor only wants to know about them and the event that changed their lives. It’s like a book blurb without the hype, if you will. And always tell the ending.
For those of you who resist writing the synopsis first, an easy way to distill your novel is to make an outline of the finished book in Word. That will remind you, if you don’t have a detailed plot, what happens when. From there, you can strike what’s essential, and whittle it down that way. Sometimes I think I write better synopses than novels, because I get requests followed by a form letter, but again, that’s part of the business.
I’d love to know when you usually write a synopsis, so leave me a comment. I’m guessing most wait until the story is complete, but you may find writing it earlier serves as a guide and eliminates a sagging middle—which is another blog subject entirely.