The Dreaded Synopsis: More than a Query Tool

I had to write a synopsis the other day for the new novel I’m shopping around.

It will come as no shock to any of you writers out there that I avoided doing it As Long As Possible. In fact, I had a list of ten agents I wanted to query and I managed to send to eight of them without writing a synopsis. (Which shocked one of my CPs, but it’s true.) Part of this was because a couple of them had asked to see the very next thing I wrote. One of them I’d talked to via email just recently, so I just emailed her with a “here it is” note. Another I tweeted, asking her if she wanted to see it, which she did.

Love those easy ones!

Now, I should say that I did have a pitch paragraph for the book, that I included with these messages. My CPs who’d read the book helped me put that together. Then, there were several more agents I’d had previous positive contact with, that I sent more formal queries to. None of those blessed souls, however, required a synopsis for submission.

When I’d knocked out eight queries/submissions, then I hit the big white wall.

You know the one I mean: the empty screen. The blank page taunting you with the certainty that you can never ever condense your long, lovely, intertwined story into a one-page plot summation. The thing I like to say – which ALL the publishing people hate to hear – is, if I could have told the story in one page, I would have.

Yes, I see you people out there, making faces at the screen.

And I know I’m wrong.

I know you need the synopsis and, if I can’t explain what my story is about in a short space, then either there’s a problem with my story or with me. Possibly both.

At any rate, though I knew that a synopsis is a necessary evil, I didn’t really see the light until I read Malle Vallik’s post this morning about all the things Harlequin and Carina use a synopsis for.

I tell you: I have drunk the Koolaid.

I bookmarked this post for the next time I write a synopsis. Or, for rewriting my Middle Princess synopsis, as I’m now seriously considering.

Now, go get you some Koolaid.