Sunday, January 22, 2006


I wrote a synopsis of my first four chapters today. It took me 2,168 words to synopsize 23,177 words. A question for the more experienced writers in my li'l crowd: WTF is wrong with me? Should I keep it more concise, or is this 10% ratio typical for a synopsis? Long-winded explanation: I'm hoping this synopsis will make it easier for me to restructure book one. In other words, if I can boil things down to smaller, more easily grokkable units, I may be able to shuttle chapters this way and that, reshuffle things to obtain a prettier whole. I want to move one of my major storylines to book two. This will make book one tighter, and book two more of a unique experience (since readers will be introduced to a new cast of characters). I can do this because the two major storylines only intersect at the end of book three. Bottom line, I'm writing this synopsis to help me edit the trilogy, but I think it would be foolish not to create a document which, with a little massage, could serve as an agent-ready synopsis. If it were just for me, I wouldn't give a damn how big this thing is. I'm only wondering if it's too bloated for agents. Why, why couldn't I have had an idea for a 90K-word story? Yeah, I know there's no answer to that one (except, perhaps, inexperience). D.


Anonymous Dave Munger said...

Not that I'm especially well-versed in such things, but I think you need to synopsisize your synopsis.

1/23/2006 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Kate R said...

Two bits of advice.

1. don't fall into what Shannon Stacey calls the "an den" syndrome. ("an den they went for a walk an den they saw a bear.")

2. check out PBW this morning. She must have read your blog!

1/23/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Robyn said...

Synopsi suck.

1/23/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Anonymous PBW said...

Am I channeling you this week, or what?

You're probably falling into Stacey's den (I love that, Kate) or an unconscious narrative. One of my tricks: write a summary of each chapter like a listing for a broadcast TV show episode in TV Guide, and then use that as a synopsis plan/outline.

1/23/2006 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Thanks, folks. Sheila, I'm on my way over.

1/23/2006 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Pat Kirby said...

I doubt I'm what one would call "experienced", 'least not in writing.

But I write the one-page synopsis of the ENTIRE beastie first. It's a bee-ahtch, but after that...writing a three-to five-pager seems so much easier.

Except where a market asks for a "detailed" synopsis, I never go beyond five or six pages.

But that's just me. Everyone has their way...etc.

1/23/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

I saw a writer (can't remember who - Karin Gillespie, perhaps?) discuss how what you need for a synopsis is a way to describe your book in no more than the space of time it would take to have a short elevator ride with someone. For example, you run into an acquiantance and they ask you what you've been up to: when you respond to their "well, what's the book about?" question you need something that encapsulates the story AND captures others' attention.

Obviously this leaves a lot of the subtlety and nuance, not to mention themes and arcs, out of the discussion.

It sounded like the synopsis you created was for you and not others, so perhaps that doesn't really work for you. Then again, maybe it would be applicable if you think of it from the point of view of "what is THE MAIN THING about this book" and apply that thinking to each of the books you are planning. That might help you focus your priorities and edit accordingly.

Of course, I've never actually written a book so you can take all this with a grain (or whole shaker) of salt :-).

1/23/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Okay . . .

After reviewing all of your comments, and looking at 5 of Sheila's 10 links, I think I have a better idea of what is going on. For starters, I'm writing an outline, not a synopsis.

Um . . . duh.

I think I can do this now. Thanks!

1/23/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Try to boil it down to three sentences first -
in the beginning - then this happened - and the ending is this.

1/24/2006 06:55:00 AM  

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