Put a fork in me. I’m done. Cooked. Toast. I finally finished THE SYNOPSIS. Why the capital letters? Well, let me tell you. THE SYNOPSIS took on a life of its own. It became bigger than the actual book.. As I told a friend, last week I was a crazy, unkempt writer lady (minus the cigarette hanging out of my mouth)who stayed in her pajamas 24/7. But I got it done, and I learned oodles about the story: the main character, the themes, and the parts and people I have to toss out. Here are 5 random things I learned about synopses. Yes, that’s the plural of synopsis.
1) Writing a synopsis is like taking an entire book, an unwieldy book, and fitting its contents into a tiny Nutshell Library-sized book. You can put everything in there, so only put in what you need to make your point.
2) Writing a synopsis forces you to discard all those cute details you’ve worked so hard on. The ones that are clever, but detract from the story. My agent will be pleased to note that a certain character has gone bye-bye. I totally forgot about her when I was writing THE SYNOPSIS. When I was finished, I realized she’ll only be make an appearance, if it’s necessary.
3) Writing a synopsis makes you hyper-focus on the story arc. I realized that I had a strong beginning and a pretty good end, but the middle was flat. It just kinda, sorta went along. I needed my middle to creep steadily with mounting tension to the climax.
4) Writing a synopsis helps you learn to focus on the themes of your story. I added a new twist that helped my character show her faults, a fault that happens to be a major theme. Before I added the twist, the plot only meandered; now it can move at a good clip. It’s a beautiful thing when theme, character, and plot all work together.
5) Writing a synopsis is something I should have done months ago. I avoided it because I really hate that it’s like homework, and now that I’m a grown-up, no one can tell me what to do. I love to write and let the story happen, you know, be creative, but at some point a synopsis can be the smartest thing a writer does to propel the story to its finish. Knowing when to write it is the thing I’ll try to learn with my next book.