Sep 26, 2010

Short and Bitter

Oh god, the pain.

I know I said I just whizzed through the synopsis last month and ended up with a brilliant first draft sure to make the most cynical literary agent weep but, well, I just read over that draft and I was wrong.

It was terrible.  Filled with clich├ęs, completely un-specific, and just plain bad writing.

So I started over.  And although I am now several hairs greyer and have long, bleeding scratches on my face from trying to rip it off in frustration, I don't think this damn synopsis has gotten any better.

But why is this so hard?  We all wrote book reports in high school, right?  This should be just like that.  Not rocket science.  (Come to think of it, maybe I should hire a 10th grader to write my synopsis for me).  And yet there are entire blogs devoted to how bloody difficult it is to write a half-decent synopsis (for a strong espresso dose of cruelty, see Miss Snark's contribution to making writers feel bad about themselves).

One page.  One page to sell the story, and tell the story.  But not the whole story.  Just the salient bits.  But enough so it's completely understandable.  And exciting.  Even if your novel is character, as opposed to plot-driven.  One page to show the agent how marketable your novel is.  But without sounding like flap copy.  One page of sharp, clear writing.  One page to determine whether or not you will become a published author or a pathetic failure.

Say it with me people.


And then there's the query letter...


Anonymous said...

I'll say it again... pay an unemployed screenwriter or playwright to jazz up the synopsis and/or re-write the novel. You need a dramaturge. Don't be like one of those housewives who are too proud to hire a cleaning lady!

Res I(p)sa said...

Hmmm, well, maybe I am "too proud" but I'd like to think that if I end up with my name on the cover of a published novel, I wrote it all myself. Writing has been my job this year, I don't give up on my job when it gets hard!

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Miss Snark's site is a real eye-opener! I got introduced to her site via another novel-writing friend a few months ago.

Yeah, it is not an easy path to authorship.

Still, I wish you the best with it, I really, really hope that you will not bail on it, and that you will keep working to make your dream come true!

Orrrrrr, that you will be able to decide that it is a dream to be put on hold for a little while as it really is a whole lot of work for a risky yield. I am still rooting for you to do the former, though. Grit those teeth, babe. You can do it.

(Now I understand why a lot of authors refer to their books as "babies." It takes almost as much pain and effort to squeeze a book out as it does to carry and birth a child, lol.)

I really hope to make it on Saturday. I need to coordinate with Paul, who has things he wants to photograph and take notes on for La Nuit Blanche that night.

Good vibes to you as you are juggling so many things right now -- book, move, party, life... Hang in there! :)