Friday, 1 March 2013

Writing a synopsis

I'm struggling with my first synopsis. Advice suggested that about 700 words would be best, and no more than 2 sides of A4.  I sat down to begin, and it seemed easier than I'd easy that I managed to rabbit on about my novel for 1200 words. It's a start, though; I'll be onto the cutting when I next have chance.
I've been unable to leave this story in peace. Every time my mind wanders, it makes its way to the plot and worries away at this point and that. To some extent, I had lost faith in my story, and was considering going back for a hefty rewrite. I was anxious about starting the synopsis in case I realised that the rewrite couldn't be put off any longer, and that the story was so flawed in its chassis that it would never go anywhere.
I was delighted to find that the opposite happened. In writing the synopsis, I saw that the plot hung together better than I had thought - not well, perhaps - but it works. It's so hard to judge with your own work, though, isn't it? You're so close up everything goes a bit blurry and misty.
I can see that writing the synopsis gives you a good sense of perspective, and brings the plot into clear focus.  I think I might write one sooner in the creative process next time, and perhaps keeping to 700 words will become easier.

Here are some general tips I'm following:

Underline the names of a main character (and write their name in full) the first time you use them.

1.5 line spacing is fine.

Try to work in a word or two on your setting.

Write in the present tense.

Refer to your theme.

For instance:  "Noemi Larch is a woman on the edge. Trapped in a loveless marriage,and living in a rural village that makes her feel as if goldfish have privacy, she is keen to break out of her small life, without realising the consequences. When she takes up belly-dancing night classes, she is intrigued by the mysterious caretaker Bernard Noodle and invites him on a bike ride. Unfortuately, a swarm of bees intercepts them and when Bernard is stung, he admits that he has anaphylactic reactions to bee-stings....As Noemi comes to terms with the results of her choices, the theme of atonement is explored...."

Obviously, this invented example makes a synopsis look a little blurb-like, whereas a full synopsis requires the story in full - the purpose being for an agent or publisher to see just where the first few pages of your novel are going, or if a novel about farm animals will suddenly side-track into a novel about alien abduction. This invented example also makes it clear just how poor my synopsis-writing skills are and how much work I've got to do to improve my writing! I'd better go and get on with it instead of writing about doing it...Any tips or hints on writing a synopsis are very welcome, especially from anyone who has actually written one successfully before!

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