Synopsis Struggles

When I tell someone that I am writing a book, their inevitable response is to ask me what it is about; it is a question which is both delightful and dreadful to me–while I love nothing more than sharing my creation with other people (this is, after all, the main draw to getting published), the act of summarizing 86,000 words of painstakingly constructed texts is challenging to say the least. This problem has led me to fumblingly brief explanations that don’t do my work any semblance of justice, or a lengthy saga encompassing way too many details to be called a summary–the most notable of the latter explanatory events involved a one good friend, a couple glasses of wine and a “summary” which took me at least half an hour to explain. However, now, with writers’ conferences coming up, and query letters to be written, the time of the shoddy summary must come to an end. I will not lie and say I am not daunted, nervous and very tempted to procrastinate. However, throughout the process of writing my book, I have learned that just applying oneself to a task generally yields more results than not trying at all! Luckily, I have found some great sources to help with writing a good synopsis, such as this article: http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/how-to-write-a-synopsis.html# If anyone reading this has any other tips or sources on writing a synopsis or query letter which they would like to share, this newbie to the writing/publishing scene would love your recommendations!

As with all of the challenges that I have faced with my writing, I need to face the synopsis with the same confident attitude that I developed while writing Capacitance–no matter how daunting the task, the process becomes much easier once you believe in yourself and begin.

6 thoughts on “Synopsis Struggles

  1. I share your distaste for having to write a synopsis. It is a restrictive, rather than a creative process. I rather rock at composing query letters, however, particularly for nonfiction articles and major works. As for fiction, I am currently procrastinating on my own need to synopsize my recently finished novel.

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    • I completely agree on the process being very restrictive! I pride myself on the many details of my novel, so having to eliminate these is a painful process–hopefully my voice and plot line are strong enough to shine on their own! That’s great that you are so successful at query letters, as that is the project I am currently procrastinating on as a query letter seems like the challenge of a synopsis on steroids (fitting a synopsis into a paragraph rather than two pages, yikes!), so any helpful tips for query letters would definitely be welcome! Thanks for the comment!

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  2. My best advice is to grab their attention with an interesting statistic, quotation or anecdote concerning the theme of your work. Write in your own unique style, but include all of the elements necessary to a business letter. Watch your paragraph structure and make every word count. Here’s a query of mine which was accepted by a collectibles magazine:

    Re: Wheeling into History

    When Charlotte Brontë’s character, Jane Eyre, decides to post a letter, having no access to a carriage, she sets out on a mandatory walk, returning to Lowood Institute, wet and weary, hours later; similarly, when my own great great grandmother wanted to petition her local government for access to a road, she set out on a trek to the capitol, knitting a pair of socks on the day’s journey, there and back.

    The invention of the bicycle has long been associated with the liberation of women, but Victorians, men and women alike, were so anxious for independent mobility that many risked life and limb riding the very early high wheel examples. Wheelman Roger Tupper, of Hamilton Ontario, rides them today, demonstrating his prowess with these dangerous conveyances, when he shows up at summer festivals throughout southern Ontario.

    Other cycling enthusiasts may not be as daring as to attempt riding the aptly named Bone-shaker, the Ankle Breaker, or the Penny Farthing, but they are no less interested in cycling history, joining wheelman associations and collecting early artifacts such as:

    •Bicycle lanterns and horns
    •Helmets
    •Cycling shoes
    •Instruction manuals
    •Advertisements and cabinet cards depicting early cyclists

    I am writing to suggest an article and photographs on cycling collectibles, which will explore the development of the early high-wheel bicycles and their importance to Victorians, and outline the diversity of today’s cycling collectibles.

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    • Wow, you really do rock at writing query letters! That’s an excellent example–it made me want to read the article. Thanks so much for your great feedback; connecting with others in the writing community is such an important part of the process!

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      • Thanks, I’ve done some coaching and editing and teach a local writers’ group. I’m very proud of one of my coaching clients who not only achieved publication, but a major award as well. Her book, Empty Cradle (Diana Walsh), is a true crime memoir well worth reading.

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