Monday, June 13, 2011

Synopsises. Synopsi?

I understand the reason why agents and editors want to see a synopsis of your manuscript when you send in a query. Seems like even if they ask for the entire manuscript, they still want a synopsis. If they see a glimmer of brilliance in the synopsis, then they'll peek at the manuscript and see if it's written just as well.

I'm not sure that's fair. In my mind, it's kind of like trying to perform an autopsy when all you have in front of you is an ear, a piece of liver and half a bone. (Yes, I've been watching crime shows this afternoon.) I'm not sure even Ducky could pull much information from that.

But here's the thing ... not everybody is comfortable or capable of writing in various lengths. Some people like to write series, some write trilogies, some write single novels, and others are more comfortable with shorts. These days, there are people who seem to specialize in flash, or even nano-shorts.

I tend to write novels. I have written shorts, but they aren't easy for me. I like to insert personal sideplay between characters, misunderstandings that get completely out of hand, complications and side plots. The length of a novel gives me room to do that. With luck, I can get all that done in about 100,000 words.

Then I have to boil all of that down to about 500 words. Yank out all that characterization, complications, side plots and so on. It scrapes my nerves down to the bone. Can I find one word to replace 200 words and still give the same meaning to the scene? Come on, all I need to do is choose my words more carefully, right? Well, no, because I've already been careful in choosing my words, when I did my rewrites; that's how I got a 150,000 word rough draft down to 100,000 words. And if I could find one word to replace 200 words, that says those 200 words weren't very necessary, doesn't it?

So I grind my teeth, chew my nails and pull my hair as I try to craft a synopsis, because I know that no matter how hard I try, it's not going to be as good as the longer version of the story.

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