The Dreaded Synopsis…

Whilst I am waiting for feedback on my novel from friends and family, I have decided to tackle the dreaded synopsis. I call it the dreaded synopsis because, as any writer knows, it is one of the most important things to your novel and one of the hardest things to get right. This is the thing agents and publishers will be judging your novel by. To convince them to read your lovely, polished novel, you first must perfect your synopsis. Worried? Yes, me too!

I have been reading up on synopsis guides and it seems that if your novel follows a lovely, straight and conventional narrative: you have no problems. Mr A meets Mrs B, they fall in love, they nearly don’t get married but then, after realising something that enriches their lives, they do. From my research, it seems that you tell the main story using the voice of your novel. Simple… right?

Wrong! What if, like me, your novel isn’t quite as simple? What if your protagonist has a journey in the novel that is simultaneously running to the metafictional idea that he is being written? Mr A, after years of being abused by his brother, is obsessed with the idea that he is becoming a paedophile. Meanwhile, he is being written in a book by Mrs B who is obsessed with the idea of beating Mr A who is trying to stray from her plot. I know in my mind that these two things cross over: The writing of Mr A into the role of the paedophile by Mrs B becomes a metaphor for how Mr A feels that he can’t escape his past or who he is… Putting this jumble of ideas into a novel is much easier than a two-page synopsis. Especially when the chronological idea of the synopsis is twisted with ‘meanwhile…’

A little taste of what I’m up to, there! Mainly chasing my tail. If anyone is having similar trouble or has any solutions please do leave a comment 🙂 It’s always nice to know that someone out there is battling with the same stuff as you! Hopefully, when I finally find out the answers to these questions, I will post them up for all to see!

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4 Responses to The Dreaded Synopsis…

  1. Ellie says:

    Oh I feel for you. I really do. I have been working on my synopsis for five weeks now and I just can’t get it right. The thing for me is I haven’t actually finished writing yet. This complicates things because I know my story, but I also know it will change as i write. unfortunately the powers that be want it now, and want it right.

    I mix up tenses and voices and find it too restrictive.

    Good luck with it and I hope you manage to simplify your story without selling it short.

  2. Five weeks! Crikey. That sounds very familiar. From what I’ve heard, writing your synopsis before you begin writing is a good idea, as that means you are less bogged down with the clever sub-plots you make up along the way. Perhaps the same goes for novels not quite finished…?

    I know what you mean about mixing tenses and voices: my novel mixes both but the synopsis needs to focus on just one. Very confusing! If you think you’re hitting a wall, feel free to send your synopsis to me. Perhaps a POV of someone who hasn’t read the novel would help iron out any kinks?

    Good luck and thanks for the comments.

  3. Enigma says:

    I’m not sure how much sense this’ll make outside of my head, but I’m going to suggest it anyway.

    For the first draft, I’d suggest dedicating a generous amount of space to BOTH plots and then summarizing how they fit together in a conclusion paragraph. I think it’d be much clearer and prevent you from having messy clarity issues. Write down the main points each “concept” is trying to get across, detail the story behind it, and then look at what may or may not be able to fit together. The first step in tidying all this out is actually getting things down on paper. It gets a bit easier after that. Good luck!

    • Hi! Yes, I think you might be right there. Dedicating space to both plots first and then tidying up what bits can be slotted together after it is on paper. I will try it and see where it gets me! Anything is better than what I have at the moment :p

      Thanks so much for the comment! Helpful stuff!

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