The Synopsis–Punishment for My Misspent Youth

I’ve been quite the busy little bee today.scissors

Up and at ’em early to get grocery shopping out of the way. Submitted a book review.  Wrote a diary for Daily Kos. Sent an email to my beloved older brother. Kinda sorted through the nuclear waste dump of my desk. Got the cats stoned on catnip. Did some Scrivener notes for an article about insane food prices/food speculation/etc. that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time.

This would all be quite laudable (well, maybe not the getting-the- cats-stoned part) except I’m supposed to be streamlining a synopsis for my novel OLD WOLVES.  To borrow a phrase from my character Martin McBride, I’d sooner have bamboo splinters shoved under all twenty of my nails.

And most of it’s my own damned fault.

I’d seen some really good articles (including The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel ) that said one of the best things I could do for myself as a writer was to draft a synopsis before getting too far along in the creative process. I could always go back and change it, they reassured me, but at least I’d have a framework of sorts, and I’d thank them later when it came time to submit WOLVES to agents.

Excellent advice, which I didn’t take because I was totally possessed while writing WOLVES.  The words kept flowing, the characters came alive, some days it was almost like spirit-writing.  I’d created this intriguing world full of fabulously-flawed people and I didn’t want to stop for anything until WOLVES was finished.

Then came time to market the book.

Some agents wanted just a query letter.  I sweated blood over the letter for quite awhile but finally got the hang of it.

In addition to the query letter, other agents wanted sample chapters.  No problem, got ’em right here, plenty more where that came from.

But there were also agents, including some I really wanted to query, who also required–horror of horrors–a synopsis.

Synopsis: taking an 80,000+ word novel and cramming the high points of its plot line into 3, 2, or sometimes even 1 page(s) depending on the agent I’m querying, and making it enticing enough to catch the interest of someone who gets a zillion queries from hopeful authors every month.

After a pitched battle, I finally managed to get a (much too long) draft synopsis put together earlier this week. Now I have to attack it mercilessly, stripping it down to mean leanness, setting aside almost everything that makes WOLVES…well…WOLVES, at least to me.

It’s a ghastly process, easily the most difficult writing I’ve ever done in my life.

Needless to say, I’m thoroughly chastened.  My current project, MAGIC MAN, already has a synopsis.  It also has the one-sentence summary and one-paragraph description Randy Ingermanson recommends in the article I linked to above.  (Thank you, Randy!)

With that, I’m back into the fray. Wish me luck!

photo credit: mikeyp2000 via photopin cc