Tuesday, June 25, 2013

~What’s Right with Writing SYNOPSES~

Synopses are summaries of books, written in third person present tense. Most writers don’t like writing them, because how can we, for all the gold in the vault of the Central Bank, put our whole novel into one or two pages? We feel, nay- we think, this is barbarous.
But writing a synopsis is a must. Agents and editors require it. Many will not even look at a sample of inspired writing unless the synopsis passes muster.
Let’s be positive here. This is what I find to be helpful about doing this dastardly deed.
First, it will expose a flawed or nonexistent plot like no other writing or reading exercise will. Better than a much more wounding or expensive critique from another. As a writer distills her plot, she also sees it from a bird’s eye view.
Second, it will reveal themes the writer hadn't realized were there. This is part of the great joy of self-discovery, which is a part of the raison d'être for writing, pardon my French.
Third, it will require a focus of the mind, which is also part of the joy of writing.
Fourth, it will leave a writer feeling virtuous for having gotten through something necessary but unpleasant.

I can’t think of a fifth. Can you?

Can you tell what I’m struggling with today? Hint…^


  1. Ugh, synopses! But yes, I concur that they are beneficial. In my writing MA, my tutor made me write a synopsis for my project, and left to my own devices, I've continued to write one ever since. I do find, if I willingly write a synopsis, it's a little less painful than being forced to, especially on a deadline.

    Anyway, all that said, they stink. Good luck!

  2. All good and true reasons for writing a synopsis! Still not fun to do, however. ;D

  3. I totally agree -- like a million percent -- with your first point. Nothing exposes the fragility of your plot structure like summing it up concisely, either in a query or synopsis.

    Synopses are HARD. I mean, just look at that word. SYNOPSIS. It reminds me of CYCLOPS. And we all know how bad those are.

    I hope you take that synopsis firmly in hand and show it who the boss is (well, it is the boss, let's be honest, but don't let it push you around).

  4. I'm letting my simmer for awhile right now... They're definitely buggers!

  5. I wonder if anyone actually likes writing these. ;)

  6. I agree with all your points, esp. #4. Kind of like cleaning the bathroom--it's tedious, but once it's done, you're glad you did it! ^_^

  7. Enjoy writing your synopsis Mirka. You'll feel so much better afterward, even virtuous. Hee hee.

  8. I think I once heard someone say they like writing these. However, I've found that if I give a synopsis to critiquers 2 or 3 times, it gets there just like other writing does.

  9. I'm here a few days late. I hope you have moved past struggling and onto conquest!

  10. I hope you have written a fabulous synopsis by now, Mirka! They are one of the "necessary evils" of a writer's life!