Want a laugh? Mention the word synopsis to a writer and watch them break into a sweat. Or hives.
Isn’t it funny how writing a 100,000 word story doesn’t create the same sense of panic as a 2-5 page summary of it creates? I mean, really, what’s the big deal. We’ve gotten to know our characters on the most intimate level. We’ve watched them struggle over increasingly mounting obstacles. We’ve seen their wit, their courage, their weaknesses, strengths, failures and triumphs. And yet, when it comes down to telling our story in the most basic terms, we freeze.
For me, I suppose, it’s wanting to insert all those precious details. The sights and scents, the mood. Balancing ‘tell’ with passion is a tough thing to do. No melodrama in a synopsis. No ‘show’. Just the facts, ma’am.
Of course, we want a bit of our voice to shine through. I mean, if the story is humor and your synopsis is full of droning prose, then it’s little more than a poor example of bait and switch. Yet, you can’t really ‘show’ your voice since this is about ‘telling’ your story.
What’s your story about? Quick! Answer that in 500 words or less. Easy-peasy, right?
As you can tell, I’m in the thick of it right now… attempting my own balancing act. No one said synopsis writing was easy, but we all know how vital it is. And one thing is for certain – the manuscript took months to complete. The planning hit several brick walls and climbing those walls became more and more difficult… and more and more exciting as the story took shape. All that effort is forgotten when The End is reached. It’s only when we (I) sit with a synopsis waiting to be written that I think I’m first struggling to tell this story.
So… the synopsis is no different than the story itself. Both are a challenge. Both are part of you. Both will help determine the future for your characters and for you as their creator. A synopsis, therefore, deserves the same amount of attention, patience and enthusiasm as the story itself.
And on that note… I’m going to make myself another pot of coffee and have at it. Again.