I’ve read books, articles and many, many blog posts on how to write a synopsis. I know it’s more about what you leave out than what you put in. I know how long it should be… um… between 1 and 5 sides of A4, depending on whose advice you take. I know that it needs to not be a blow-by-blow account of what happens next, and next, and next. I know it needs to be about character, inciting incidents, conflict, tension and emotional progression; and it needs to show that I know how to plot – and how to write too.
All that, it’s all very well. I get it. And I’m an intelligent woman (don’t argue…) with a good grasp of the English language and an intimate knowledge of the subject of this synopsis. So what could possibly go wrong?
Well… I sat in front of my PC this morning and the words that spewed on to the page were a confused, desperate ramble around my plot. Tangled, like a plate of angel hair pasta, a mass of fragile threads jostled for attention. But there was no sauce and it was all very, very claggy and dry.
One thing was abundantly clear about Draft Number One; if I were reading it, I wouldn’t be reaching for those first three chapters.
At least I know it’s crap; self-awareness is a strength, I tell myself. But it’s only a first draft, so I’m not going to get discouraged. No, really. I’m not. I’m going to print it out in double spacing with big margins. I’ll scribble on it and chew it over for a few days, and perhaps the right way to tackle it will surface (maybe around 4:00 in the morning).
I know there are things that need to be worked out. Whilst my timeline is a snug single week in the life of my characters there are intricacies in how those characters’ stories weave together, impact my protagonist and move the plot forward. I’m going to have to decide which of these need space in the synopsis, and which do not – there isn’t room for them all. Then there’s my ‘big reveal’ scene, an intense mental battle between two characters. At the moment, it is dispatched in a single line. I may only have 500 words to play with, but I feel it deserves more than that. Or maybe I’d just like to think that because I bled all over the carpet for weeks writing that darned scene, I’m going to force anyone who reads my synopsis to appreciate the time and effort it took. I don’t know.
I’m sure I’ll get there – I’m a writer and a marketer after all, so I should be able to cope with a synopsis. Right? I just said I’d give you a feel for what’s happening in my head now the book is written and the selling game begins.
So here you have it – synopsis crisis, day one.