Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Which I've Been Putting Something Off

Yep, that's right. I've been avoiding something. Avoiding it like a zombie death plague.
What is it, you ask? Why, it's writing a Synopsis.

Yep. I don't want to do it. Even just thinking about it kind of pisses me off. I understand the purpose of them, but to me, they stink of, more or less, writing an outline for the book once it's already completed.

I already wrote an outline before I wrote the first draft. Even though the synopsis is not even remotely like an outline, it just feels like it to me. It feels like a step backwards.

So I've been putting it off. To be fair, by putting it off, I mean I've been working on other edits/revisions, so it's not like wasted time. But I'm running out of revisions to do, which means sometime soon, I will have to bite the bullet and write that stupid synopsis. And probably more than one, since some agents want different lengths.

Does anyone else have this dislike of synopses like I do? Any tips how to make it go down better/easier?


Dan said...

The only way I can think of to make a synopsis less of a pain in the ass is to have someone else write it for you :)

Loralie Hall said...

I'm exactly the same - i haven't written my synopsis yet and intentionally only picked agents who don't require one during querying.

Which kinda sucks because I have three I very much want to query and I'm going to need a synopsis to do so. of luck to you and let us know how it all goes ^_^

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah, you have an outline! The synopsis should be a cinch.

Take the outline and break it down to three sentences each of the major turning points in the story. Add the beginning and end and done.

Okay, that's simplifying to extreme but it sometimes works.

The other way is to go into the chapters and pull out anything significant. Write it down. Chapter by chapter, then put it all into cohesive paragraph form.

And for agents who want one page synopsi (?) use method one. For those who want two to three pages, method two.

And I'll trade you, you write mine and I'll write yours. hee hee.

Anne said...

Bailey's would probably help it to go down easier

A. Lockwood said...

Niiiiice, great image.

Here's the best advice I've seen for writing a synopsis:

It *really* helped me. Good luck with yours!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Dan - LOL, yes that is true

Loralie - i kinda flirted with that idea, too. But then i told myself to shutup and just get down to it

Anne - hmm, you make it seem so much easier than i thought. I'm actually probably OK with a the page synopsis since i do one for the snowflake method. It just needs to be zazzed up. Thanks!

Anne - yeah probably. But it would probably end up with sentences like "What the hell are you looking at? My font?! It's fine! Get back to reading!" Also, it would be written in crayon. AND WE DON'T EVEN HAVE CRAYONS...

Lockwood - that image took much longer to create than it should have. And thanks for the link! I looked over it and i think it will help tons!

Nate Wilson said...

It'll be ages before I have to write a synopsis (thankfully), so I'll simply pass on some excellent advice from Valerie and Miracle Max:

Dip it in chocolate. (The chocolate coating makes it go down easier.)

Matthew MacNish said...

God I hate synopses. All the ones I've ever attempted have stunk like pickled herring.

Sadly, I've got no advice for you.

Pk Hrezo said...

Yep, synopses pretty much blow the big one. But I've learned to go from my chapter outline I create before my first draft and it tends to nail the meat an potatoes of the story.

Good luck!

Maria Zannini said...

Synopses are a rite of passage. Just do it, woman!

And Anne is right. With the outline, half your job is done.

I liken a synopsis to telling a friend about the story. Tell it with enthusiasm and voice.

Basically, the agent/editor just wants to know whether you can tell a story from beginning to a satisfactory end.

Tara said...

Ugh. I feel for you. I hate them too. I have a [very] basic one outlined, but I need to stop procrastinating and get on it. Good luck!

Teebore said...

I loves writing...whatever the plural of "synopsis" is. Maybe it's just cuz I've read so much of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe through the years.

Like Anne said, just go down chapter by chapter writing a sentence or two detailing what happens, then jazz it all up and smooth out the rough edges and bam! You're done. Piece of cake.

It's like writing without all that difficult character development and unique imagery. ;)

Seriously, it'll go down easier than you think.

Les Edgerton said...

Sarah, Chuck Sambuchino has a bunch of great models to use on his blog at

Check out the archives for plenty of great models. He uses the IMD movie synopses as guides. Very helpful.

Good luck! I hate writing 'em, too!

Anne N Kenny said...

Guh. I hated writing my synopsis. Fortunately I won a contest a while back where I had it critiqued by an agent.

Since there weren't too many things to change, I think I was all worried over nothing all along.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Dude, I think you just have to bite the bullet on this one. AND I'd do it now, before you're out of things to revise because you want to get the first draft down--and then revise/rework it when your'e done with everything else.

I feel your pain. Sigh.

NiaRaie said...

What a coincidence I'm also avoiding writing one. So much that I'm avoiding a lovely agent on my query list who requires one.Blah,I feel your pain. Hopefully you'll get some good tips on how to write an excellent one.

Lola Sharp said...

It's an evil beast, but a necessary evil beast. Also, I advise doing two versions, a short 2 pager and a longer version (you can base that off what your agent list tends to require). Plus, your future agent will need it for going on sub to editors anyway, so you it's best just to get 'er done.

Best wishes and good luck! o_0

Suzi McGowen said...

Me too! Hate synopsis. Avoiding querying agents that want one. Need to bite the bullet and write one. Nothing helpful to offer. Sorry.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Nate - yeah, that sounds about right. Chocolate and possibly some liquor. but not too much. Just a smidge. And smidge more...

Matt - see, that's what i'm worried about. That it will come out flat and boring as all hell

PK - yeah that's probably the route i'll end up taking. At the very least it seems to offer the easiest starting point

Maria - It's the voice thing i'm particulalry worried about. My default voice is pretty formal, so i'm worried about boring it down (the opposite of zazzing it up)

Tara - damn procrastination and it's shiny surface! But we all know that underneath that shiny surface is stinky rotten filth that we wished we had avoided

Teebore - yeah, it probably will. I mean, i remember reading the one you did for your first novel (gah, why can't i remember the name? All i can think of is Onwards and Upwards. My bad) and it was great! I hope i can do that

Les - 1st off, the very fact that you commented on my blog totally makes my week, because i LOVE HOOKED SO MUCH!
And thank you so much for the link! I'm going to check it out right now!

Anne - ooh that's awesome! validation is such a great motivator

Sara - good point. Judging by the feeling in my bones, i suspect i'll begin tackling it in the next few days or so. Assuming the personal life eases up on me a bit

Nia - well, i'm a procrastinator, but i'm also pretty controlling, which means i won't even think about querying before i've got all my ducks in a row. And that last little duckling is a synopsis...

Lola - 2 versions sounds like a genius idea. I think i can handle that. Thanks!

Suzi - well, it's good to know i'm not alone in this synopsis hating boat.

Jessica Bell said...

I've got a synopsis template from a professional critiquing service I once used. You want me to email it?

Teebore said...

gah, why can't i remember the name?

Fate Lost. We haven't talked about it much lately. :)

And thanks!

Hart Johnson said...

You have my sympathies! And I have some help!

It's from Raquel Byrnes a couple months ago and I saved it for when I had to do it... Hope it helps!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

jessica - Yes. Yes i do.

Teebore - GAH! Total duh!

Hart - ooh thanks! I'm going to check it out right now!

Anonymous said...

I wish I had advice for you, but synopses are the bane of my writing existence. I loathe them. I feel your pain.

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