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The dreaded synopsis

So, I started the day with good intentions.  After this morning’s dog walk, I had two more things on my to-do list and then I was going to work on the synopsis of the book I am working on at the moment.  By 12.30, the other two things were ticked off my list, so I decided to have lunch and then crack on with the synopsis.

And after lunch, I did sit down at my desk and put on my embarrassing writing cardigan, as it had turned a bit chilly, and opened a new file, ready to start.

I would like to say that this workmanlike attitude resulted in a finely crafted synopsis, licked into shape by the end of the afternoon, but sadly, if I did, I would be lying.  I find synopses really hard to write – and from what I’ve heard from other writers, I’m not alone in this.  The synopsis needs to tell the story in a compelling way.  It needs to sell the book.  It needs to stand out.  It needs to make the reader (an agent or an editor at a publishing house) want to take my book on – or at the very least, to ask to see the full manuscript.  No pressure there then.

While it’s true that the pressure of trying to do all these things in a page or so of A4 makes it a pretty tough job, for me I think the worst thing is trying to get enough distance from my book (which I’ve been working on for a long, long time) in order to distil the entire plot into just a few words.

It’s a classic case of not being able to see the wood for the trees.

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I find it so hard to decide which bits to put in and which to leave out; which plot line to follow through and which to skate over. Even once I’ve decided which bits to include, I then need to decide how to group them, so that the whole thing makes sense.

Is your head hurting yet?  Mine was.  All I have to show for my afternoon at my desk is a Word file with the words: “The Wrong Rose – Synopsis”.

But I did do some thinking.  And I did finally come up with a name for the other world in the book, which has been bothering me for a while.  And I did tinker a bit more with the text of the book.  So I’m hoping that my subconscious has been working away without me noticing and that when I next sit down with my blank file, all will become clear.  Or at least that I’ll get some more words on the page to start working with.

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