…but, short of using voice recognition software that mangles the English language, that would make it hard to write the book, the part I do enjoy. I’ve met and talked with a lot of writers in the past six years, and I deal with some awesome writers now, and I still haven’t met anyone who says, “Gee, I really like writing that synopsis. If only that’s all I had to do.”
If anyone reading this actually does enjoy the synopsis writing, let me know. But I’m fairly sure I’ll be met with a stony silence.
Because how the heck are you supposed to write a synopsis, when you don’t even KNOW these characters yet? Allison is actually the one who got me thinking about this, in a post she made to the rest of us msw-ers. How do you effectively write a synopsis, one that will sell a book, when you haven’t properly explored the characters?
The only way to explore the characters is to write the book.
And yet, as semi-established authors, we are expected to write the synopsis first. We often sell BOOKS based on synopses. In fact, most of us do. But delivering that book, when it can end up not even resembling the original idea, can be a nightmare.
This is one of the reasons–as I’ve tried to explain to unpublished writers–that the concerns, angsts, pressure and fear just GROWS once you sell. It’s one thing to write a book, then sit down and dissect it chapter by chapter until you have a good, clean synopsis. I’ve done that before, and I’ve taught other writers to do it.
Writing a synopsis AFTER a book is written is easy. This is familiar territory. This is like driving in daylight on a familiar level path, on a sunny day, with the top of your convertible down. Writing it before is sort of like driving at night with your lights off, on a winding mountain road, just after the tendrils of thick fog set in.
You’ve not been here before. There could be a stop sign missing, or a turn in the road you didn’t anticipate. The fog makes it hard to see three feet ahead. You have no landmarks, and you have no lights. Better to just stop and pull over and wait for daylight….
And the “synopsis first” gang even tell unpublished writers to write the synopsis first. Who ARE these people? Have they EVER written a book? I’ve never really met a first time author–myself included–who did a bangup job of writing a synopsis BEFORE the book. I’ll be the first to admit I am horrible at it. All the “writing” books advise you write the synopsis first, but most don’t do it. And for first time authors, can I just say, “Why should you?” You have to have the entire manuscript written before you can approach any agent or editor. Doesn’t it make more sense to chart the territory and THEN draw the map? We all KNOW what happens when people try to make maps of places they haven’t been….
Is this not what a synopsis is? A map of your manuscript?
If you have an idea, and if that idea is not properly explored, you can’t really know if the synopsis you are writing and trying to sell is what is going to happen, right?
Any writer knows that characters have a mind of their own, and they often take over stories and tell YOU what their storyline is. I have had minor characters attempt to take over and run a book. One even succeeded, so I had to give her her OWN book, so she would shut up. Of course, neither of this books sold, although they are both under consideration right now.
So, there’s my rant on writing a synopsis, delivered, because right now, I AM trying to write one based on a book that exists only in my head, with characters who have not yet told me all of their story, and who have some plans of their own in mind…..