Thursday, 6 November 2008

synopsis

I've just been struggling to write a hurried synopsis of my book. What to leave in? What to leave out?

I was asked to write a "full synopsis" that was "concise and punchy", explained "how it ends" but left the the reader "wanting more".

The good news is I had to write something for Crime Time so when my school magazine asked for an article urgently, I had one ready made. (I wonder if it was suitable?)

Why is everything urgent these days?

46 comments:

Aggie said...

Urgent? Only Urgent? My work always wants it last week! or yesterday! Good news though!

Barbara Martin said...

I, too, have problems putting the synopsis together. I tend to put too much in and then end cutting most of it out. Does urgent mean two days ago?

I'm certain you will find out whether it's suitable or not.

liz fenwick said...

No = waiting to hear from agents and editors - they have no sense of urgency........

Debs said...

I hate writing synopses, and never know what to put in/leave out. Nightmare.

Best of luck.

Charles Gramlich said...

I also hate writing the dreaded synopsis.

fizzycat said...

Would not have a clue, as where to start on such a project.

Virginia Lady said...

I've discovered that writing a synopsis is easier before I've written the story. Unfortunately, most of my writing is 'seat of the pants' and I write as it comes to me. So I flounder and fuss over a synopsis afterwards. Evil things, they are.

Leigh Russell said...

Aggie - yes, there appears to be a kind of double standard operating in every area of my life. If I want something, the line's engaged, there's a queue, no one replies to my email. When something's required of me, the expectation is that I'll do whatever it is at once. This seems to be a ubiquitous rule. Is it just me?

Leigh Russell said...

barbara martin - if I could write a book made up of all the words I'd cut from MS and now synopses, it would rival War and Peace! snip snip chop chop - can you hear me, busy 'writing' - (who was it said the pen's mightier than the sword?)

Leigh Russell said...

liz fenwick - the double standards again. Why can't everyone make more time for me?!

Leigh Russell said...

debs - it's a nightmare all right. But the synopsis was accepted. (Had to be, really, as the recipient hasn't read the book yet - I could have said anything!

PI said...

Did you google synopsis? I did and found it most helpful and their example was much more detailed than I had imagined also there are a few 'don'ts'. Good luck!

Leigh Russell said...

charles gramlich always has the appropriate adjective - "dreaded". Sums it up.

Leigh Russell said...

fizzycat - exactly so. Where do you start? and continue? and how to conclude giving away the ending yet leaving the reader wanting more...?

Leigh Russell said...

virginia lady - How do you write a synopsis before writing the book if, as you say, you write "as it comes to me" ? I have to say, I find it hard to be disciplined. My characters tend to run away on tangents, causing me to lose the plot... Maybe I should write the synopsis first, and then stick to it.

Leigh Russell said...

Nice to hear from you pi - a new visitor. I have to admit, it never occurred to me to google 'synopsis'. What a good idea! Why didn't I think of that? I'm off to check it out now. I bet I did a few of the don'ts!

BernardL said...

A synopsis is a very tricky endeavor; and not to be taken lightly, as it may be the key to selling a manuscript, or enticing readers into buying the novel. Urgency has become the mainstay of life lately. :)

Leigh Russell said...

I think you mean the blurb, bernardl, intended to attract readers. A synopsis summarises the whole plot, including the ending! Tricky to leave whoever read it wanting more...

spyscribbler said...

If you go through Erica Orloff's blogs, she has the best one on a synopsis I've ever read. It helped me love my synopsis, that's for sure!

ANNA-LYS said...

How to be put the brakes on?
... and do we really, really want it?

Have a nice weekend

Mima said...

I have always had a problem when writing a summary of anything, so I would probably be awful at this. I'm glad though that you have had the interest from people that want to publish the synopsis - hopefully that will drive some sales.

Bill Clark said...

I was asked to write a "full synopsis" that was "concise and punchy", explained "how it ends" but left the the reader "wanting more".

What kind of oxymoronic moron would make such a request? (Oops - it's probably your editor.)

I have never understood the purpose of requesting a "full synopsis" other than to torture authors. Is it to get a running start on the Reader's Digest version? Or perhaps the Classics Comics version? Or mayhap the Cliff and Monarch notes versions?

Remember, the question to be asked at all times is, WWGD? What would Geoffrey do? Would he write synopses? Assuredly not. Would Will Shakespeare? Extremely doubtful. P.G. Wodehouse? His career would have never left the ground if he had.

My personal opinion is that authors should start to deline these invitations, with or without thanks. Just say, "Charles had a Dickens of a time with them, which is what led him to kill off Little Nell," or, "They gave Jane Austen the vapo[u]rs, and she advised against them as being injurious to the health."

If the oxymoronic moron quibbles that Dickens and Austen never wrote synopses, just smile sweetly and say, "No more shall I." You'll be in good company.

Middle Ditch said...

I'm with Charles .... Dreaded.

I didn't know though that you need to do this for a novel too. Is it for the blurb on the back? If so, good luck, because that is often what makes a book sell.

lol

Leigh Russell said...

spyscribbler - you "love your synopsis" ?! I must check out that website!

Leigh Russell said...

anna-lys - You've seen right through my false protestations. Of course I don't really really want to put the brakes on. I'm enjoying the ride far too much.

Leigh Russell said...

mima - I bet you wouldn't be "awful" at it. You write far too lucidly. As for "driving sales" - that's the ride I'd really really like...

Leigh Russell said...

Bill - insulting my publisher! On my blog! How could you! Seriously, not a problem. My publisher's far too busy to have time to read this. Busy promoting my book . . . ? (I do write fiction!)

WWGD - ! I can't deline or even decline requests for blurbs and synpopses when the intention is to promote my book! Articles, interviews, blurbs, signings, talks, whatever it takes...

Leigh Russell said...

monique - The blurb is done - short and long versions are with the publisher. The short one is for the back of the book. The synopsis is something different. It's for the publisher's PR to send out to whoever they think might be persuaded to help with the promotion. Richard & Judy, here I come... (more fiction, I fear, but gotta dream the dream).

Leigh Russell said...

Loving the freedom of blogging - I see I have a tendency to overpunctuate . . . !!! Is it just me?!?

Aggie said...

Punctuation is a writers tool ... I over punctuate for the sheer hell of it!!! To emphasise and exagerate.
I'm from New Zealand btw ...

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Aggie - !!!... are flying round the globe, from New Zealand to UK and back again... !

Akasha Savage said...

I find a synposis harder to write than a full length novel!

Leigh Russell said...

I was about to accuse you of exaggerating, akasha, but on second thoughts, I think you're absolutely right. With a completed synopsis, as a plan, then all you need do is write the full version. If I'd been sufficiently organised to plan my writing properly, I would have had my synopsis complete before I'd even started on the MS. Next time will be different... I should say the time after as I'm already well under way with book 2 (which is about to undergo a massive rewrite and it's nowhere near the editor yet!)

fizzycat said...

Thanks Leigh. Sometimes ( I get the flu jab just occaisionaly all though I am entitled to it)I react to the jab . This year I did , the previous one I had ( 2005) was fine.Hope the synposis is going well.

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, fizzy - Synopsis is gone, for good or ill (sorry -shouldn't mention 'ill' to you right now...)

Kim Ayres said...

Synopis - that's the easy part. Writing the rest of the book to go with it is the tricky bit. I was always good at summary in school and lousy at expansion. I think it's why I enjoy blogging so much - I rarely have to write more than 300 words :)

The World According To Me said...

I work for a publishing company and we are forever saying that we needed something yesterday!

Leigh Russell said...

So many reasons to blog, Kim. Not least of which is the amazing support system it offers. I've really appreciated the helpful comments that have appeared on my blog when I've been . . . waiting . . . It's really made me feel I'm not the only one. (Of course I've always known I'm not the only person on the planet to be kept waiting, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded that there are lots of us around.)

Leigh Russell said...

the world according to me - I can't even remember yesterday . . . Just as well I don't work for a publishing company, isn't it? (although perhaps I did, yesterday . . .)

goooooood girl said...

Good good good......

Leigh Russell said...

thanks goooooooooood girl...

Rick said...

Leigh, I know I've been away on the road for a few days, but could you explain that last exchange between you and gooooood girl? It was seriously too deep for me.

Leigh Russell said...

A comment appeared on my blog from Goooood girl. I replied. That's all I can say. Any depths hidden from me too. I was just being polite. Perhaps you can shed some light on the matter? Any serious interpretations of an apparently fatuous and superficial exchange would be . . . interesting.

Middle Ditch said...

Leigh, Gooood girl is everywhere and she/he is a spammer. Her site takes you to a poker site. Leave well alone.

Leigh Russell said...

Poker, eh? Thanks for the warning Monique. spammers on the blog. Whatever next!

Rick said...

Leigh, if you go another week without posting, I'm going to report you again- to someone!