Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Write Your Stupid Book: Tip 7 – S & M

S & M = Synopsis and Manuscripts so get your mind out of the gutter!

Today I’ll discuss the dreaded synopsis. Writers fear them.Agents devour them.Editors require them.
There’s no getting away from the fact that you will have to condense your four hundred pages into just a couple if you want to make a submission to the powers that be. And, yes, I said a COUPLE pages. As in two.

You may have heard some people say a synopsis should be six to eight pages. Or ten. I’ve heard some authors like to send in a hefty twenty page synopsis. That might be more appealing to you because it’s easier to chip away at your hundreds of pages and narrow it down to twenty. Two might seem crazy impossible.

Is it harder to do it my way? Yes. Then why the hell should you do it my way? Because I told you so. Sorry, I was channeling my mom there.

I have only one reason for suggesting a two-page synopsis and that’s because it worked for me. Maybe a ten or twenty page synopsis was good for somebody else but here on my blog I can only say what works for me because I just can’t speak for anybody else.
So how can you boil down 100,000 words to 500? First of all, you need to re-think the purpose of the synopsis. The reason you write a synopsis is to whet the appetite of the reader so they’ll read the book. You want them intrigued, fascinated and entertained and DYING to dig into the rest of the story. When you’re submitting to a potential agent and/or editor do you want them slogging through a long, tedious synopsis until they’re too tired or, heaven forbid BORED, to read your wonderful chapters that follow? I didn’t think so.

Yes, it’s true that some published authors get away with selling on a mere smidge and hint of a synopsis: “Joe and Jane are fighting crime and then some really cool things happen and everyone lives happily ever after.” Probably you won’t sell anything based on a sentence like that until you’ve reached NYT stardom. Until then, you need to do it the old fashioned way. Steal from others.

Okay, I don’t exactly mean steal. It’s more like borrowing. Go to your own bookshelves which are, hopefully, heavy with novels. Pickup a few of your favorites and read the descriptions on the back. That, my friends, is a great way to describe a book and it’ll set the tone you need to write your own synopsis. Make it leap off the page. Make it so that when they reach the bottom of page two the reader eagerly picks up chapter one because they can’t wait to read more.

Do I hear you crying out, “Prove it! Dammit, Wendy, why can’t I see YOUR two-page synopsis as an example?!”

Okay, you don’t have to whine … but you do need to jump through a couple hoops.

Until the end of the month, if you “like” my author page on Facebook and/or follow me on twitter (see the side bar for both) then I will email you a copy of my two-page synopsis for Remains of the Dead. You’ll also have to email me (wendy at wendyroberts dot com) and put “synopsis” in the subject.


Laura Hamby said...

You said the S word. :(

On a more serious note, great post!

Wendy Norris Roberts said...

Can your synopsis have S&M in it? Or be about it? Kidding. So since I am a friend on FB, share your awesome name, follow you on Twitter (gawd I sound like a stalker) and own copies of all of your books, I am going to have to ask for my very own synopsis.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh I so want a copy of your synopsis! Gonna fb you now ... sounds dirty ha

Wendy Roberts said...

Laura, sometimes it's necessary to use the "S" word. ;)

Wendy, I will gladly send you a synopsis. Email me and I'll send it over :)

Lilly, I think I got your FB "like"... now send me an email so I can attach it to my reply.

Anonymous said...

what about query letters? :) I'm following you on twitter -- Janet

Sunshine and Shadows said...

Thanks for the tips.

To prove I'm not a robot, I had to type: eatrats passion. That is just too weird.