Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Last week I got an email from my agent with a couple of final “wee edits” to approve on my novel. They were easy and quick—no problem. Then I saw a postscript that made my stomach lurch: “It would be nice to include a synopsis.” Why now? This couldn’t be happening. I broke out in a cold sweat. In that one comment, I was sentenced to the one writing task I hate above all others—writing a synopsis. defines a synopsis as:  1. a brief or condensed statement giving a general view of some subject; 2. a compendium of heads or short paragraphs giving a view of the whole; and 3. a brief summary of the plot of a novel, motion picture, play, etc.
Considering I wrote, re-wrote, revised, re-revised and edited the manuscript, this should be easy, right? Wrong!! A marketing synopsis needs to have voice, emotion, conflict and excitement that convey the essence and tone of the story. Five to ten pages that do what took it 364 pages and months or even years to write. If there was any way to get around her request—donate a kidney maybe—I was eager and willing. But I knew there was no choice, no easy way out. And so I sat myself in front of my computer, opened a creative vein and with great pain and agony wrote an eight page “summary” I hope doesn’t suck.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s writing for publication takes patience and perseverance. Every writer has to do the hard work whether that’s write the book, send out queries, pitch, promote, set up a website or write the dreaded synopsis. And most of those tasks we do alone with nothing but our determination to drive us forward.
We’re not the only ones who have to continually self-motivate and persevere when the going gets tough. Artists, entrepreneurs, anyone with a dream faces the same hurdles and the same kind of grueling choices. There are few shortcuts on the path and most people make their own “lucky breaks.” Still, would you change the path and avoid the journey? Is success sweeter when it is hard won?  For me the answers are no and the jury’s still out. What about you? What is your personal dreaded synopsis?


Bethany said...


Great post! I haven't been on your blog before, but I'll have to add it to my Other Blogs To Visit. For some reason the synopsis is kryptonite for writers (me included). When I sat down to write mine I thought "Okay, I can do this, I mean, I've been through the story so much" (just like you thought) Yeah, wasn't so easy. I think the first draft wasn't in-depth enough, then there was this question and that question (I had people critiquing it for me) and even now I'm sure I'll have to revise it. But you're right, we just have to keep going and keep working at it. Best wishes to you, let me know when you have a release and what genre it is :-)

Bethany said...

Wait a minute, maybe I have been on your blog before, because I think I read your post on the Woody Allen movie. I'll have to go back and reread. I just didn't make the connection LOL

Lark Howard said...

Hi Bethany,
I think knowing your story well makes writing the synopsis even harder. When I write one before I've written the story itself, it's much easier and even fun because I can make up whatever I want and keep it simple. Not that the characters ever stick to it!