Monday, June 14, 2010

Synopsis a Necessary Evil

Synopsis a necessary evil, rather like mosquitoes.  Wait, is there anything necessary about the mosquito?  All I know is that they're here and in record numbers.   

 But back to the synopsis.  First off a  synopsis demands answers when I have none.  I have no idea who may have shot the handyman or who vandalized the vineyard.  My hero refuses to tell me who died in that car accident from his past that seems to have skewed some of his perceptions of the present.   Still, with a little effort I know I can find those answers.  It's just that I'm used to writing stories that were like a loose knit sweater and when I finished I went back and began plugging holes finally sewing the whole thing up in a neat little package.  It worked.  It was what I knew.  Okay, so it worked but it was slow and inefficient and took too long to finally tie the whole thing up in a tight and solid the end. But like a kid at Christmas I was always surprised at the end.

So I didn't convert immediately to the idea of a synopsis as not only a means to sell a finished book but as a way to map a plot.  But I tried it and was pleasantly surprised.  The synopsis didn't give all the answers, there was still the element of surprise.  The synopsis was only a map drawn with large brushstrokes and plenty of room for unguided travel.

Despite what I now know, I still dodge the task.  Right now I've got three clean chapters I love and a general idea in my head, so a synopsis shouldn't be a problem.   Is it a mental block that has me writing this blog post rather than wrestling with that synopsis?  But see, there it is  - I said I was wrestling with it - like an essay about an unwanted subject rather than a concise run down of a story I want to tell.   Synopsis and me - I don't think we'll ever be easy companions but we're learning to accommodate each other. 

So the next time you pick up a book - be gentle.  Someone had to sweat over that darn synopsis before they ever got to the good part and wrote that fantastic story.

And for anyone else that might be engaged in the same wrestling match.

Synopsis, love ‘em, hate ‘em, can’t submit without ‘em!


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