Ah, the dreaded synopsis. The three pager. To me, it's like trying to park a Buick in a Wheaties box.

After toiling with one for over a week, I've come to a startling conclusion about synopses: They suck. I keep tapping the glass on the front of the fun meter, but the needle stubbornly stays on zero.

How do you guys approach writing The Short Synopsis? I'm planning to blog about it soon, and I'd like to get some quotes.

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I hate synopses. I simply dont't know where to start, how to approach it or what the hell I should put into it. Right now I'm just struggling with talking about my writing. How do I even mention what I'm working on without sounding a complete and utter fool?

I've been approaching that particular challenge, and hope I can do the same with synopses, by acting as though it's someone else's book. If I can separate myself from it and act as though it belongs to someone else, I find it's a lot easier for me to approach it.
I think those struggles are common to writers at every level, Stephen.
"How do I even mention what I'm working on without sounding a complete and utter fool?"

I can't imagine anyone finding zombie noir foolish.
Well, my version of a short synopsis is more like six paragraphs instead of three pages. I tend to approach it as if I'm doing an extended movie pitch, giving the high points, sketching in some pertinent details, but leavng them wanting more.

That said, I HATE writing the friggin' things. I think they're a waste of time and often counterproductive. How can you possibly convey the essence of a book in a few short paragraphs?

Besides, other than an intriguing "what if" and a vague notion of beginning, middle and end, I never know where the hell I'm going with a story until I actually sit down to write it.
Synopsis hatred seems to be the consensus, Robert. :) It's good to know I'm not alone in that regard.

I would think having experience pitching movies might be helpful, though.
Jim: Nice to know I spent a week producing what amounts to a jar of piss. :)

I'm sure synopses are useful to some editors, to get an idea of plot. The thing is, if the writing's solid, plots--even holey ones--can be fixed. I think most editors know that and dive right into the first chapter. That's where you better catch their attention--in the first five pages.
I've found most synopses unreadable so far. So many details get crammed in that one can't see the story line. The first few pages are a better indicator. As Jude says, it's the writing that matters -- and characterization, I would add. For a synopsis, Toni obviously has the right idea.
Thanks, Joy. Nice to get an editor's point of view. I agree. Most of the synopses I've seen are unreadable--or, at least, painful to read.

So why do agents and editors insist on them? Is it really just a jar of urine, as Jim suggested?
Jude, I asked my agent that once and she (only half-jokingly) said that it was to make sure aliens didn't land somewhere in the last act and save the day, solve the problem, or get the girl. (Unless, of course, that's the set up.) So probably just to make sure that there's some sane story logic going on before they put in hour of their time reading something that derails badly at the end, which would have shown up in a synopsis.
Crap! You mean I'm going to have to rewrite that whole extra-terrestrial deux ex machina bit at the end? That's the best part!

Seriously, that sounds reasonable. Thanks, Toni!
You got me, Jude. Convention, I suppose. Conventions don't always stay useful.

The other thing is that a lot of readers have favorite plots that they like to reread with different embellishments. If the synopsis shows a plot that is "in" at the time, it is more likely to sell.
That also sounds reasonable, Joy. Thanks!

I've heard, too, that the marketing department sometimes uses parts of the synopsis for jacket blurb ideas.


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