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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.


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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  1. May 11, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Absolutely, synopsises are a real chore. Good luck with yours.

  2. Jane Crewe
    May 11, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Well it seems to me that the solution is to give your book to a trusted writery (do like that word? It’s like sewing on stitch) friend, let them read your manuscript and they write the synopsis, then you return the favour. Simples!

  3. May 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Carol. I am currently working on two synopsii, (have I invented that) and know how you feel.
    Having a title in front of you is a good start and a name for your otherworld even better. Good luck with your wood, (or is it trees?)

    • May 11, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Why thank you. And good luck with your synopses!

  4. Jane Crewe
    May 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Carol, I would love to volunteer to write your synopsis but you need a REAL writery friend not a faux one. Love the word synopsii but my scholarly insticts suggest it should be synopses or synopsa depending on whether your synopsis is deemed male or female.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      I’m pretty sure the accepted form is synopses.

      • Jane Crewe
        May 12, 2015 at 8:46 am

        It is definitely synopses (Latin 3rd declension) but I was having a bit of fun,

  5. Jane Crewe
    May 12, 2015 at 8:47 am

    …still like synopsii!

  6. May 12, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Carol you may have gathered from the intermittence of my own blog that I’m not much of a bear of social media brain. How do I say thanks for the compliment and follow you? Meantime hope you’re synopsing fine.

    • May 12, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Thanks received! The easiest way to follow is to access my blog while signed in to WordPress and click the follow button on the bar at the top left. Posts will then appear in your WordPress reader.

  7. May 13, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Cheers Carol. Will do. Now I”ll have to write something new. Cheers x

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