Synopsis struggles

24 March 2012 / Leave a Comment
I don't like writing birthday cards. What's there to say really? Happy birthday! Blah, blah, blah. I also don't like writing on leaving cards, baby cards or wedding cards. It's all been said before. How original can you be really? I like to think that I could be a writer, but I never know what to write on a god damn card.

Anyway, card rant aside, what I loathe far more than card writing is writing a synopsis. It's a complete struggle for me. I am rewriting my Von Honningsberg synopsis for Momentum Books, as they would like a synopsis of 2-4 pages. In the past I have only been requested to submit a 1-page synopsis, which was always really, really difficult, and could really only give a broad overview of the story. It's actually quite nice to be given the opportunity to flesh it out a bit. However, I am still struggling.

Reading back over my 1-page synopsis that I recently rewrote for submitting the ms to a couple of publishers before Christmas, I almost cringed. You see, since writing that synopsis, I have read Gary Disher's book on writing fiction. I borrowed it from the library, so I don't have it here to refer to, but he basically says that good novel writing is all about conflict. What I think I have failed to do in past synopses is to state what my main character wants, what are his problems and what does he do to resolve them. So this is what I am trying to include in my new longer version.

It makes me rather concerned how hard it is to write a synopsis about this novel. It's a pretty subtle plot really, there isn't a huge amount of drama, or tension, or conflict really. It is more of a character-based story. There are no car chases or killings or anyone really stopping Lawson from doing what he wants to do. Except maybe his boss, and himself, and circumstances. Even his love affair is pretty low key. In a way I think it is real to life. People can have life experiences that aren't life changing can't they? But does this make for a good read?

When writing a synopsis, it's hard to avoid it being a blow by blow account of what happens in the story, he went there, he met her, they did this, then they did that, he said this ... It's also hard to get the flavour of my writing in, when there are characters and themes and so much else to cover.

Anyway, I will keep persisting with it. I was kidding myself that I could get this done my Monday. I am going to adhere to one of my new writing rules, which is to not rush it. It's better to get it right, than to send it off quickly. Besides, if the editor doesn't like my synopsis, they may hardly even look at my manuscript. So there's a lot at stake ... and quite a lot of pressure on those 2-4 pages.


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