Synopsis – a four letter word?

I don’t know why a synopsis feels like a four letter word to me. I mean, really, I write hundreds of pages in my manuscripts and yet the idea of writing two or three synopsis (summary) pages to send to prospective agents/editors make me break out into a cold sweat. Why?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that you are taking your manuscript (aka your baby) and trying to summarize it into a few paragraphs that explain enough about 1) plot 2) conflict and 3) characters without simply listing a set of events. And then this happened…and then this happened….

It is the equivalent of having hundreds of cute pictures of your baby and being told that you can only pick 2 or 3 to reflect your baby’s personality. Kind of hard when you put it like that right?

So how do I tackle the problem? I lay out the hundreds of ‘photos’ in front of me. And segregate them into three grounps. Plot (what), Characters (who) and Conflict (why – or in the case of paranormal – why in the hell ). Then I start weeding though it. What is the most important points I need to make in the synopsis. And this is where you can get bogged down with plot, which believe it or not, is NOT the most important thing. I know, I said it out loud. Your characters and conflict should take front seat. Plot can ride in the back and interject things every once in a while, but it better be to help support your characters and conflict.

So is this easy to do? Not for me. Usually, my first draft of my synopsis is exactly what I do not want – a list of plot points. Once I get this first draft done, I go back and determine what is really important and then start the weed-wacker to take care of business. Two or three versions later I take a breath. Then I hand it off to someone else to read and make sense out of it. After all – you built this world in your head so it makes PERFECT sense to you. That doesn’t mean it translates to the page that way. So have someone read it. I try to have 2 readers. 1) someone who has read the manuscript and 2) someone who hasn’t read it. That way you get perpective from both sides. #1 lets  you know if you have left something important out of your synopsis and #2 lets you know if what you wrote makes sense. Am I an expert at this? Absolutely not. But I thought I would share my perspective on things. So keep plugging away on your synopsis or what I like to call your $#&^ !


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