Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Week in Review or A Writer's Synopsis Lament

I came. I saw. I synopsed.

That's about it.

No, really. I worked on that damn synopsis all freakin' week. No lie. I've finally got it hammered down to 7.25 pages - not that I'm being precise, mind you. It's just the thought of condensing that down to only 5 pages is a bit daunting, especially since I think I drew blood just getting the rough draft down on paper.

Why are synopses the one activity universally hated by authors? Why do most reasonably intelligent and articulate writers dissolve into a mass of tears and tantrums with the very thought of writing the dreaded synopsis? How can something that is nothing more than a summary of one's book have the power to paralyze, strike fear and cause sleepless nights and instant nausea? It's a mystery. Or maybe not.

It's a punishment.

Honestly, I think the history of the synopsis has a very wicked beginning. It was probably designed as a way to torture writers who were searching for patrons in the literary world of bygone eras. I bet even traveling bards were asked to summarize their tales before the head of a large keep before performing after dinner.

I can see it now. A poor troubadour comes to a castle, dusty and aching from the many miles he's journeyed. All he wants is to tell his tale of daring-do in exchange for food and a nights lodging. He knows if he's good enough, he may even receive leave to stay on in a permanent position. Unfortunately, there is a line of his fellow troubadours in front of him. The line shifts and moves forward in a slow progression, until he's finally at the head of the line before the lord of the keep.
"Give me a brief description of your story," says Lord Icanmakeorbreakyou.
"Excuse me, sire?"
"Tell me the gist of your tale. Only the highlights. If I'm interested, I may let you perform half of it for my table. If I like what I hear, you may be asked for more. Or sent on your way." Lord Icanmakeorbreakyou, looks down at his doublet and picks off lint.

Thus the first synopsis is born...along with the first synopsis related stress.

Happy Sunday everyone.



Tierney O'Malley said...

Well said, Kat.
It had been a week since I started writing my synopsis. But the darn thing is still not finished. I am beginning to hate the dratted Synopsis and his cousin Blurb.

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