Tuesday, January 4, 2011


To synopsis or not...

There is nothing quite to challenging in the writing process as the synopsis. I truly believe this and usually try to avoid doing one. Which may be why my earlier novels were never published.

For my first book in the mystery book club series, I had to do a synopsis. Understandable, since I was trying to get the gig and the editor had to know that I was on the same page when it came to developing her idea. Along with that synopsis, I sent in proposals for books 2 & 3. And never gave it another thought. So, why was I surprised to learn another synopsis was required for book 2? Just because 'naive' is my middle name....

Looking back on the original process, I sat down and plotted through the book, carefully adding threads and red herrings, and ensuring all came together at the end. And, when I sat down to write the book, I did the same ... then looked at the synopsis just before my final edit. Well, the major characters remained the same. But I had reverted back to my usual method of writing...just starting it and seeing where it took me. I find that most satisfying, following the twists and turns as they burst onto the screen. But what will me editor think? That, is the mystery.

So, now this new synopsis is due next week. I started writing the book first, hoping that would give some meaningful direction to the synopsis. What I found was the beginning was not what I'd suggested in the proposal. Ah, but the characters remain the same.

What does that say about me as a writer, I wonder? And how do you tackle the dreaded synopsis?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase


  1. When The Acorn Press offered to publish my first novel, one of the first things I thought was "Thank God, no more synopses." Of course, you know it wasn't true. Because, almost immediately, the publisher asked for synopses of the next two books in the series. Fortunately I had them on hand. Or, at least, I had the 500 and 1000 word version of one, and the 250-word synopsis of the other Everyone wants a different length.
    So there I was -- book about to be published, and back in the synopsis game.
    In a way, while I dread it, I do enjoy it. It takes days to write a good synopsis -- constantly adding more content, while trimming excess fat. There are few things that give as much satisfaction as adding several more plot points than in your previous version, and coming in at the exact word count. I'm obsessive compulsive about this. If a publisher, editor or agent asks for 500 words, that's what he or she gets. 500. Not 499. Not 501.

  2. Nice to know that there is a book to provide guidance. Where was it when I needed it?