Sunday, October 3, 2021

Synopses - the Pain Never Ends

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "Queries & Synopses: Bane, Benefit, or Both?"

Besides all of us immediately screeching BANE – because all sane human beings hate writing synopses – I’m here to tell you to learn to, if not love, then at least bear with them. Being able to write a decent synopsis is a critical skill for a writer, even indies. Same with queries.

Also, the need for them never goes away. If you want to be a career author, you’ll be pitching/querying your books and writing synopses for the rest of your life.

Did I scare you? It IS October, after all!

I totally sympathize, by the way. When I was a newbie writer, I was fond of saying that if I could synopsize my novel, either in an elevator pitch or a couple of pages, then I wouldn’t have had to write the whole book. Which is true in a way, but also precious.

People rightfully rolled their eyes at me.

I sucked it up and took a class on writing synopses.

The main thing I learned from the class was not necessarily how to write a synopsis, though I kind of did, but that condensing a story concept to 10 pages, 5 pages, 2 pages, 1 paragraph, 288 or 144 characters, or 1 line helped crystallize the essentials of the tale. And I had to face the very uncomfortable truth that, despite my newbie arrogance about having written this entire novel to tell the story, the main reason I couldn’t write a synopsis or come up with an effective short pitch was that I didn’t have a clear focus on that story. I didn’t KNOW what the essentials were.

That’s why I say that even indies – who may never need to write a synopsis, but will certainly need to write a blurb – will benefit from developing this skill, too.

And if you’re going for trad at all… Well, let’s just say that a synopsis is hovering in my near future. I’m not looking forward to the painful process of writing it, but I know that, in the end, I’ll understand much more about the story.

Which is always a positive.