Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good and Bad Things About Synopses

Fig Tree at Kervaudu--Ferdinand Loyen Du  Puigaudeau Yes, I have finished the synopsis I was asked to write and am now working on my three sample chapters for the possible new series.

Well, “finished” is maybe too strong of a word…considering the synopsis is 21 pages long and needs to be 8. (I’d thought they wanted a short synopsis, but they need a longer one. Not, however, 21 pages long.)

I think it would take me longer to write a short synopsis. I’d obsess over what was going into it too much. Just like Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Good things about writing synopses

  • Planning ahead
  • Seeing how the story all fits together
  • Finding weaknesses in the story before starting
  • Knowing exactly where the story is heading.
  • Discovering plot holes.
  • Having fewer things to work out later—names, clues, red herrings, and the murderer’s identity are all included in the synopsis.

Bad things about writing synopses

  • Planning ahead
  • The time it takes—about 4 hours to write a complete synopsis (at least, this is as long as it took me)
  • Feeling like I’m writing to an outline, which saps a little of the creative mojo. Feels like writing-by-numbers.
  • Looking back and forth from my synopsis to my manuscript as I write. “Now, what did I say I was going to write here…?”
  • Not having the story surprise me as I go. It feels more calculated.

Will I do this again? I’m sure I will---many editors want a synopsis before giving the go-ahead on a book or new series. Will I choose to do this again when I don’t have to? I’m not so sure. I might do it on a much smaller scale.

How about you? Which side of the fence are you on?