Today's winner is:
We get a little taste of rejection and the hell that is summing up your story in a way that sells it just enough but not too much. Some of you may have been subjected to my recent rants on the evil synopsis as I banged out my application for the SCBWI WIP Grant. It does seem a little psychotic to write the synopsis before I finish the story...or does it? I have to say that every time I put myself through this hell, I do end up with a better understanding of where my story could go and how it might be interpreted.
I say could because the WIP synopsis and the MS synopsis are two completely different critters. One you write because you are a masochist...okay, maybe you write it so you can win a grant or something..., the other you write so you can get a book contract. Usually the second looks almost nothing like the first by the time you emerge from the flames.
When it comes to the evil synopsis, I usually commit one of two sins. 1) I spend all of my time creating atmosphere and emotional arcs, or 2) I summarize too many details of the plot. So what is the magic formula? Like everything else in writing, it's about balance and honesty. Easier said than done, right?
In my google mania, I found a few sources that had some good advice to offer:
- Where the Map Ends offers a great preamble about what a synopsis is NOT and then clarifies what it is. Jeff tends to be more script oriented, but it is a good sketch of things in general and he describes a few different kinds of story structures.
- Writer's Digest's Chuck Sambuchino offers a fabulous list of sample synopses from films.
- Cristy Burne gives us more general advice and a sample of her own process.
- Glen Strathy lists the basic elements and suggests a notecard approach that allows you to organize your pieces in a hands-on way before you even start the draft.
But if you want a really no nonsense guide to writing your synopsis, check out Cynthea Liu's Anatomy of a Synopsis. She really takes the "dreaded" out of "synopsis" and boils it down to the basics.
One bonus to writing the synopsis before I finish the book is the string of epiphanies that line up as I force myself to put the pieces together. There they are...little nuggets of revelation that have got to make a better book. And a trail of blood to the finish!
Wherever you are in the process, just remember to look for the breadcrumbs (aka drops of blood) that might reveal a brave new path for your book. Speaking of GPS locations (wink, wink)...how is the madness today, wipsters?