Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Dreaded Synopsis

I find it more than a little ironic that the thought of writing and submitting a full-length fantasy manuscript as something rather normal.  It's expected of a budding author to realize their vision by completing their novel, revising to the best of their abilities and submitting to agents and publishers that will take direct submissions.  I don't begrudge the process, I'll just promote it as a given, something I have little choice over; if they ask me to jump through hoops to get my manuscript published for others to read, who am I to argue with the key master.  These agents are, by virute of their position and influence, the best capable to influence the gate keepers, those publishing houses that are best positioned to action an author's dream - having others read and (hopefully) appreciate their work and ask for more.

I am at the point where I've gone through an exhaustive refresh of my dark/epic fantasy manuscript.  I've done my happy dance and am now looking to market it.  The query letter has been generated and re-edited dozens of times.  A list of agents in the appropriate field has been compiled.  All is set to start launching my letters and hope I can generate some interest in my project.

Or so I thought.

Now I realize I must return to the manuscript in an effort to create another document many if not most agents are requesting with a submission.  The dread synopsis.

Nothing seems more daunting than to try and filter the story elements down to a page or two.  In all honesty, I found the prospect less threatening than filtering my manuscript from a (very) bloated 188k down to the current ~90k.  I also look back at that project with much less trepidation than I do the synopsis.  The process is relatively similar, in that I have to cut out the excess and present the required elements, no less, no more.  I went from 188k to 90k.  I should be able to summarize 90k to 2 pages or so, right?

Here's where I currently am with my synopsis.

Enter the internet and some hefty browsing to research this additional craft: writing the synopsis.  A few websites have certainly assisted in alleviating some of my fears and questions on the process.  I'm still left facing the task of drawing the story down to its core elements and then ensuring the presentation isn't something that turns away an agent.  This unknown, of course, is the ideal scenario for a writer to second-guess himself into a downward spiral from which many simply walk away from their project.  As the expression goes, "You always fail at the tasks you never attempt."

Not one to ever back down from a challenge (something my wife can attest to), I've collected a few websites I found particularly helpful.

And finally, the Internet Movie Data-Base website.  I know it's a bit of an odd one, but something that seemed to follow with the multitude of sites that offer examples of synopses.  Pick any movie you can think of and you can find a synopsis, which follows many of the examples you will likely find on any website that supports writing them.

I hope these provide anyone in my predicament some measure of comfort and guidance in their endeavours.

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