Beating the synopsis into shape.

Easter eggsPhil: I had foolishly assumed that one of the toughest jobs writing a book would be putting 80,000 words in some sort of order. This is not the case. The toughest job is turning the 80,000 words into a synopsis of two pages.

The Book is full of plot, character, nuances, humour and emotion. Hack it away to reduce the text to a couple of sheets of paper and what is left ? B***er all as far as I can tell, yet it’s a requirement if you want to pitch to an agent or publisher apparently. How do they spot a good book from this ? 

My first attempt came in at 6 pages. A little chopping and I lost one of those. Losing another 3 is impossible as far as I can tell. That’s not good as at least one agent specifies no more than 2. All the instructions I’ve read tell me to dispense with absolutely everything except the very bare bones of the plot. That probably works well for a blokey story involving SAS fantasies and action. After all, you can punt a good “big picture” and then fill in a few details. Most James Bond books have a pretty simple plotline – maniac wants to take over the world for example. Except the one where Bond doesn’t show up until half way through, the title of which I can’t remember. By that time it was pretty much a done deal anyway so there wouldn’t be any need to do anything as course as “sell” the book to the publisher.

Likewise JK Rowling just scribbles down “I’ve written a book” and Dan Brown plots are just madness with random historical character so reducing these to a couple of pages would make no more sense than the full book does anyway. And if you think I’m just jealous, you’re right but then so if every other writer out there.

Anyway, on and off over Easter I’ve been chipping away but still have twice as much text as required. No amount of foil covered eggage helps either. Indeed the melted chocolate just sticks the keys on the keyboard together and covers the legends so I think every one is going to produce brown goo rather than a letter. In my less sensible moments I’ve wondered if I could just print the thing with a really tiny font, but then I suppose I’m not the first to think of this. Maybe if I aim at American publishers I can use letter sized paper rather than A4 which give me a few more lines.

Anyone got any hints ? I might save you a little egg !

1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

One response to “Beating the synopsis into shape.

  1. I would write out a list of relevant words or phrases from each chapter then weave them into a coherent whole, then condense. Not too difficult for the two brains of the international wordsmiths of repute. Font should be serif , Times, Bembo or similar 10pt on 12pt spacing, 20mm margins.


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