To me synopsis writing is harder than writing the novel itself. I know, how can I say that having written nearly 240,000 words in the last twenty months. Well, imaging taking 87,500 words to tell a story (Future Discovered). A task in itself. But then, try throwing out 86,500 of those words to get a synopsis. Ugh, what a pain! But wait, there’s more. Over the last three weeks I’ve been suffering from back pain that hurts enough when seated that I can only spend ten or fifteen minutes at the computer at a time. Initially I thought I had pulled a gluteal muscle at the gym. But weeks later my chiropractor said I caused a lower spinal disc to slip and pinch the sciatic nerve. Couldn’t sit and could only sleep on my back after the proper amount of drugs. The chiropractor manipulated the disc back into place, but the nerve was swollen and is just now getting better. Probably more than you wanted to know, except it didn’t make me want to write the darned synopsis or anything else.
Back to the joy of synopsis writing. My editor sent me several web sites to look at to get an idea on how to do one. One stood out among the others. Basically, it suggested reading through each chapter (all 41) and drafting a sentence or two that capture what happens in each chapter. When done, ideally, you have 41-82 sentences that you can use in formulating the synopsis. Ok, so I did that.
A week later (remember I couldn’t sit for long), I had reduced each chapter to a several sentences (always more than two). That helped, but it wasn’t fun to do. After that, I used the summaries to write a 1550 word synopsis (two and a quarter pages). I still need to drop out about 300 words and am seeking my wife’s help in refining it.
Truth be told, I shouldn’t have had to do all that. Over a year ago at a Write On The River workshop (with Bob Mayer), Bob showed us a spread sheet he maintained during the writing process. Each time he wrote a scene or chapter he made a line entry with page number, and a short summary. Brilliant! I did that also for the first draft. Later in the re-write process I found it difficult to do both the re-write and keep up the excel spreadsheet so I stopped (mistake!). Had I kept up with the changes, I wouldn’t have had to spend a painful week summing things up.
So, there’s my sad story, and I have to do it again for Immortal Guardian soon. But to make the story a little sadder, I’m still on the clock to get the first re-write of Search For The Host back to my editor Tammy by mid-April. “Well it just goes to show you, it’s always something!” Who said that ? 🙂
So, who has a better way to write a synopsis . . . that is less painful?