Friday, January 14, 2011

Under the Knife

I’ve got some good news and some bad news.  (Don’t you just love it when people start a conversation this way?)

The good news is that one of the agents who asked for a partial would like to see more!

The bad news is- she wants a synopsis .

Duh duh duuuuuuh!

(I find the creepy title image above really does it justice)

Now, whereas the query letter is pretty much mandatory- like a triple bypass for someone with clotted arteries.  The synopsis, for me, is more like having your wisdom teeth pulled- don’t do it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Not only is it painful and time consuming, but most agents don’t require one for submission now a days, so why put yourself through the torture unless you must?

Needless to say, my synopsis is a four page pile of suckage under the weight of which I am slowly drowning. 

So today, instead of my normal ‘living in France’ post, I’m going to pray to the writing Gods to help me turn my synopsis into something that won’t make an agent want to rethink asking for more. 

I may or may not make it out with all limbs intact.

Any tips?

Have a great weekend everyone!

*CQG*

51 comments:

Janet Johnson said...

Oh man. I HATE those things! I wish I had some fabulous advice, but yeah, I hack my way through them. I have a template for a 1-page synopsis if you want me to forward it, but even with all the aids in the world, synopses stink to write! :( (Sorry, not very encouraging, am I? . . . I'm sure yours will be GREAT!)

Good luck!

Pk Hrezo said...

That's great! Congrats! The way I do synopses is to break down each chapter into a few lines, then compile it as one in synopsis form. It will take some tweaking and trimming, but you'll get the main plot down. Add some of your voice and tell them what happens in the end. keep it down to two pages max.

Good luck!

Rebecca Bradley said...

Absolutely great news on them asking for more! Wishing you lots of luck with the synopsis.

Anne Gallagher said...

If it's any consolation, a synopsis isn't the ball breaker, or deal breaker that we think it is. Like Pk said, just one or two lines from each chapter about the main events, put it all together in a cohesive couple of paragraphs, don't forget the ending and wah-la. They don't have to be perfect like a query.

Don't sweat this. Really. Most agents don't give a fig for the synopsis, they just want to see it to see if you know how to write one, as they might need it to sell it to the publisher.

Best of luck. I can see you getting the agent before I get back.

salarsenッ said...

This may sound dumb, hon, but sit down and record yourself telling the story. Seriously. It's amazing what you'll find out, what you really see as important in the story. Find the main thread and branch out from there.

Kate said...

Congratulations on the request for more. That's great news.

As Anne says, don't sweat over it too much.

The best advice I can give is to keep it simple. Forget all your sub-plots and nice little nuances. She'll get those from your pages. Keep it short and just give the main story arc.

When I was struggling with one of these I took a step back and wrote down just my MC emotional journey - their emotional arc in other words. That was my main plot strand and I then fleshed out the details.

Synopsis is tough - but all she really wants to see is that there is a good story structure there.

Do keep us updated.

Tessa Conte said...

First: CONGRATULATIONS!!

Second: GOOD LUCK on the synopsis... I have a serious phobia of trying to trim my stories down to that few words, but like the others said, I think it's a matter of one or two lines per chapter, strung together. Imagine telling it in bed-time story length.

Laura Pauling said...

Congrats on the agent wanting to see more! That's incredible! I write they synopsis before I query b/c usually at some point someone wants to see it.
I break the synopsis into the three acts and cover the hook/set up, first turning point, mid point, second turning point, dark moment, climax, resolution.

You can do it!

Matthew Rush said...

I funkin hate synopses. I know I'm a decent writer, but I cannot write a good synopsis to save my life. My advice?

Don't do it alone. Whatever you write send it to friends and get them to help you make it better.

Today's guest blogger is K.M. Walton!

Dan said...

Congrats on the request!

Don't worry about the synopsis. Haven't had to write one up myself, but I love asking people who've read it to tell me what it's about. I'll probably adapt their description of the book into my synopsis if I'm ever lucky enough to get asked for one.

Tracy said...

Yay, congrats! I'll definitely be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

The synopsis was the easiest part of the whole thing for me. I've had mine put together for a couple months now. It's the farking query letter that's driven me insane.

The biggest thing is, when it comes to the synopsis, voice isn't AS important anymore. Unlike the query and your actual pages, what most agents are looking for in the synopsis is a little more meat about the story & most specifically how it ends. They want to make sure they don't spend the time reading half through a 300 pg manuscript only to have the plot utterly fall apart halfway through.

Christine said...

I've got a quick and dirty cheat sheet from a published author that I use first. It has saved me many a time. You can email me at cjglover63@gmail.com for it if you want it in your arsenal of "knives."

And now? Back to my writing.

Cherie Reich said...

I just started working on synopses for my novels, so I don't have any real tips beyond make sure it hooks the reader as much as a query or a first page might. Yeah, now that makes it sound worse to write one. Sorry!

But, that's totally awesome that the agent wants to see more! Yay!

E.J. Wesley said...

Congrats!

Not sure I have much advice. Seems kind of like putting your story in a blender and pulsing until something drinkable/edible comes out. I guess you just keep adding ingredients until it tastes and looks like your story?

Now that I read that, it sounds like some of the lame, useless advice Obi Wan gave Luke. If you see Vader kill me in the shadows, just keep running, and realize everything I told is probably wrong and will only get you killed, too.

EJ

Raquel Byrnes said...

Hurray for the request!! Congratulations. HOpe you get through the synopsis part unscathed. I actually posted on that today and there's some links.

Best advice I ever got though, was just to write a sentence or two about each chapter and then expand. Good luck!

Kelly said...

Yay! And good luck on your synopsis. Google writing blogs for tips. Have a great weekend!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Congratulations.

I share your pain with the synopsis. I found this post from Janice Hardy helpful: http://storyflip.blogspot.com/2009/04/sum-of-parts.html

And there is always C.J.Redwine's synopsis workshop.

The main thing to remember is to focus on the main plot. good luck.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I hate synopsis as much as I hate queries. And what's worse is that every agent has a different idea of how long of one they want. Before I started querying, I wrote a one pager. That's the standard length. Then an agent wanted a three page synopsis. So I wrote one. And another wanted a 2 page one. Wrote that. Then I decided to enter a contest in which I had to include a 5-7 page synopsis. That one was actually easy to write. :D

Laura Marcella said...

Congrats!!! That's super exciting, Katie! Good luck with your synopsis. What's your favorite snack? Eat it. A lot of it. There, that's my so-not-healthy-but-it-totally-works tip for the day. :)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I have no tips to offer, but you have all my support. Hang in there! Creative energy vibes heading your way :)))

Carolyn V. said...

Congrats! That is awesomeness!

The synop drives me crazy (so I have no good advice)!!! But you can do it! Good luck. =D

Old Kitty said...

Oh my giddy aunt!!!!!!!!!! Oh wow!! Oh yay!! Oh wow!! Oh how could you be so calm?!?!?!?! I'm jumping up and down and going "WOOO-HOOO!!!" lol!!!

Well done you!!!!!! Well done!!

Erm.. synopsis??? ER... good luck!!!!!!! I am so so so so so pleased for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take care
x

Joanna St. James said...

eess hang in there! take PK Hrezo's advice or the easy way out ask your cps to help you. Assign chapters out to them and have them whittle it to a few sentences. It will be easier for them cos its not their story.
Tell them to think of it as a writing exercise

Anne R. Allen said...

I'll second what Anne G. said: most agents don't like synopses any more than we do. They mostly read them to make sure that aliens don't land in the middle of your romance novel on page 100.

I'd suggest that instead of trying to condense the 4-pager, you expand on your basic hook. "When X meets Y, Z happens." Add only what's necessary instead of trying to pack in lots of characters and plot twists.

And, oh yeah, congrats!

Christine Fonseca said...

Okay - s I am the freak here, because I LOVE writing a synopsis.In fact - I typically write one at the start of my writing process, then rewrite once the story is editted. I have advice on my blog about them - under the Links tab. GOOD LUCK and congrats!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Congrats on the request for more! I'm working on my synopsis, so I sympathize. And after reading Matt's post today...it looks like I need to trim my query too. Argh!
Good luck!

Laura Maylene said...

The first thing that popped into my head is that you will need lots of alcohol. The second is that you will also require the ability to stand back and be able to look at the novel in the big-picture sense without worrying about cramming in ever character or plot twist. Good luck!

Melissa Gill said...

HOORAY! FANTASTIC! SPECTACULAR! I'm so excited to hear that she asked to see more. I'd get up and dance right now, but my boss frowns on that.

As far as synopsis goes, it looks like you've got some great advice. I'd check out some of the offers for templates, etc. I also like Sarah's idea of taping yourself telling your story. Good idea. And Matt's idea about getting others to read it.

So I've been no help at all, but I'm just so danged excited for you!

Hart Johnson said...

Well I will START WITH Congratulations! Interest in your book is GOOD. But I am sorry about the synopsis hell! I can't think of anything I'd like to do less writing-wise. Though I think I will have one I am at least at peace with before I query next time... Good reminder...

Julie Musil said...

Congratulations on the request! That's awesome. Fingers crossed for you.

I read some advice about this, and maybe you'll find it useful. The advice was to summarize each chapter in one sentence. Then weave those sentences together to create the synopsis. Not easy, I know.

You can do it, girl. Good luck!

Melissa Buell said...

When I wrote my synopsis, I didn't worry about length for the first one. It ended up to be ten pages long. Then, I cut it down to four pages. Then I pulled out the most important bits and made it fit the one page requirement. It's hard, it's time consuming but worth it.

Yay! For the response back, BTW. :)

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Congrats! You can do this!

Cheree said...

Congrats on the request. I haven't tackled the synopsis yet, and dread it as much as well. But, it's not the thing that will make them turn it down, so think positive.

Good luck with writing it.

Christopher said...

No tips, but good luck!

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Congratulations on the request! I'm hopeless when it comes to writing a synopsis (at least for fiction) and I dread it as much as you. Sorry I can't be much help, but I'm here for moral support :D

Nicole Zoltack said...

First - congrats!

Second, I used to dread writing sucknopsis too until I started to think of them as glorified outlines. That makes them so much easier for me to write. Good luck!

Nicole L Rivera said...

No tips, but I think you'll do great!!! Congrats :)

fakesteph said...

I write coverage on screenplays which is... similar... biggest tips would be hit the highlights and write in the same tone as your manuscript. Don't infodump, be entertaining. Good luck and congrats on this request! :)

roxy said...

Congrats on agents wanting more! Sorry about the synopsis though. I really have a hard time knowing how much detail to skip over and how much to share. Good luck!

Colene Murphy said...

OH GOSH! The synopsis is like that creepy guy behind the tree while you walk home. You are SURE he's just going to jump out at you at some point...but when...?

Good luck! You can so do it!! And I am jump-up-and-down-hand-clappy exited about the request though!!! Hurray!!!

Martin Rose said...

Congrats on the request! All sympathies for the synopsis, though. They suck.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I was going to try to drum up some synopsis advice. Phew! So relieved to see you've already gotten a ton of great advice because I have no idea and will probably be following some of the provided links myself!

I'll just add my congratulations to the pile and wish you tons of luck.

LTM said...

omg--this happened to me like LAST WEEK... bluh. I don't know if anyone's told you this, but Natalie Fischer had a cheat sheet on how to write synopses, bios, etc., on her blog a month or so ago... she doesn't post a lot, so I bet you could find it. Her blog = "Adventures in Agentland." Check it out, and GOOD LUCK!!! :o) <3

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

First...Congratulations!!!!!

Second....I have NO experience writing synopsis...but I think it is supposed to be a chapter by chapter breakdown.

Stay true to the voice of your book!

Diane J. said...

Congratulations! Sadly, I'm no help with the synopsis, but I have faith you'll nail it!

DL Hammons said...

:) for the good news!

:( for the bad news!

I'm absolutely no help when it comes to synopsis. I can't even get a query letter right. Good luck though!!

WritingNut said...

Ooh, congrats on the agent requesting more! That's great news!

Urgh.. I'll be no help with the synopsis--I'm so sorry. I'm struggling with the query letter right now. I wish you the best of luck!

Bekah said...

Great news- congrats!!! What helped me was to recap each chapter with a sentence, or outline the novel and just cut what wasn't needed or exciting, including characters. They're awful : (

Lisa Blandford said...

Great suggestion Bekah! And then is it a 1-2 page synopsis, or a 5-page synopsis? Good luck with it and I know you'll keep us posted on how it goes!

Kelly Dexter said...

Uh. I wish I had some golden advice for you, but the synopsis is the bane of my writing existence.

Here's hoping you work it out.

Samantha Vérant said...

Run for the hills! Hide! No, congrats on your request. Make sure you have someone look it over before you send it on. Also, did she ask for a four-pager? The standard, or so I hear, would be two!

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