Saturday, 13 December 2014

Synopsis Woes

What to leave out? What to put in? Why can't I find someone else in my household willing to write this for me? I'd pay them. Not well, but I would pay them.

It's not really fair, is it? You expect me to write down 80,000+ words on a subject, and then just when I think I'm finished I have to boil that down into a 360 word summary as well. I thought that by being self-published I might escape this horror altogether, but alas it has wormed its way into all nooks and crannies of publishing.

I was going fine at first. I summarised each scene in each chapter, and then printed it out. My two to three word summaries still managed to somehow fill up four pages, but at least it was a start.

Then I wasted some hours minutes looking on the internet for how to write a synopsis. This is one of the finer things that the internet can be used for. Finding someone who's done something prior to you and basically copying them.

I found a nice synopsis for Star Wars. It looked like it had been done before it was renamed into Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope which I absolutely refuse to say because I'm nothing if not a purist (and I haven't seen any of the new ones so don't understand how any of this franchise fits together any more.)

Great. I understand the storyline synopsised thus, and should therefore be able to put my own novel into the same format.

Set the scene. Done.

Introduce the protaganist. Done.

What do they want? I dunno. What's standing in their way? Stuff. What's the major turning point? The what-now.

What's the bit that in the synopsis I'm reading is the equivalent of finding a death star and smashing it to smithereens? Mmmmmmm. No.

I quit to watch Star Wars again. It was a rollicking good story. Easy to break down into independent parts that basically beg to be summarised in a short synopsis.

I'm going to re-read a few passages and then get back to work. Maybe a few passages from my own story, maybe from the latest Sophie Hannah. Yeah, okay. Definitely the latest Sophie Hannah. If I finish that today I could summarise it into a synopsis to get a bit of practice in before going back to mine.

If any non-writerly people are reading this and wondering what a synopsis is, I'll explain. A synopsis is a method by which the world makes sure that writers are punished for daring to pour their souls into the written word and bring to life events, characters, and scenery so that something wonderful and entertaining and enlightening exists where once there was nothing.

Or, to "synopsis" that down for you, Satan personified.


  1. I heartily agree. Synopsis writing is the worst. A back blurb, now that's fun. But not only is writing a synopsis soul destroying, but having to give away the ending (I write mystery) feels morally wrong!

  2. Sometimes I feel like every part of the writing process is meant to crush your soul. Except for those few moments when you read your own work and think, "Well, that wasn't unutterably bad." :)

  3. You may even go so far as to say, "If I just work on this a little longer it may even be somewhat readable."

    I've just checked out your blog, and I do have to say that your work isn't unutterably bad, so please keep going.