Friday, September 25, 2015

Synopses: Just Kill Me and Have Done

There should be a comedic monologue in this week’s topic. Remember the impressive clergyman from The Princess Bride?
Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togetheh today.
Except mine would start: Synopses. Synopses are what make me wish I could simply slit my wrists with my pen and bleed out enough ink that something cogent will spill forth.
Eh. Lacks funny. Maybe because I’m in the torturous process of trying to distill 90k words down to two or three pages. Sure. Sure. I know it’s about the character arcs. It’s about the internal conflict and how the external conflict feeds into that. Intellectually, I get that this is a marketing tool – a sales tool that will give the marketing and art departments their sole glimpse at what might be at stake in my story. As such, a dry, Reader’s Digest Condensed version of the story isn’t going to cut it. James said it best in the comments section of his post: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. It's all about the melodrama, people.
I know all of this but it doesn’t make the process any less painful. And it’s necessary pain. I’ve been buried in the viscera of my story, mucking around in the messy details, making sure all of the I’s are dotted and the t’s crossed. With a synopsis, I have to zoom out, reduce the magnification on my view of the story and the characters. I’ve spent months immersed in every thought, gesture and decision, and now, in one fell fall of a ‘The End’ axe, I’m supposed to pull way back and look at the sum of the parts. This is entirely possible (or I would never have sold a damned thing ever) but for me, at least, it’s a huge mental shift. I gather that all of my whining and pain comes from the fact that I’m having to build brand new synapses in regard to the story and how I deal with it. It really is a very different operation, writing the story versus writing a synopsis. If you haven’t had call to think in really broad terms about your piece of work, then this is the first call to do so and, that generally isn’t something your brain has laid track to do.
So. Synopses.
I end up writing three or four. All of them suck. I’ll start trying to summarize the story. Then I’ll remind myself that isn’t what a synopsis is supposed to do. So I’ll start another one focusing on character goals and obstacles. I’ve gone through the entire story chapter by chapter using KAK’s GAR method. Only to find that my chapter breaks don’t fall neatly into the GAR pattern and by about chapter 10, I’m so off kilter I’m entirely lost. Not to mention that with a romance having two POV characters who each have different goals, actions and reactions. My three page synopsis is running about fourteen pages.
So then I cry and chat my fellow writers whilst bemoaning the fact that I’m a moron and I clearly have no idea what I’m doing. The other books were a fluke and I’ll never write again. My friends roll their eyes and hand me a cup of tea. I drink it.
Then I’m back at the synopsis thing. The other drafts have been thrown out. Figuratively. Cause you never know when you might want to steal a line from one of them. I start fresh and this time, I go for daytime soap opera melodrama. I’m still laying out the character arcs, it’s just stated in terms that would make any villain worth his salt twirl his moustache in delight. Right now, the first line of my working synopsis for the WIP goes something like:  Darsorin Incarri figures being an incubus is a pretty sweet deal. All sex all the time. It almost makes up for that dead and damned bit. Now granted, you get no clue what his goals are yet. But I do hope that you have a glimpse of what his normal unlife is like so when I present the inciting incident-meeting up with a woman who doesn’t respond to his infernal seductive power-you get a vivid picture of where the story might be going. My problem now is writing the REST of the synopsis. I wish I had actual advice for you. But that would presuppose that I considered myself any good at this. I don’t. In fact. Gonna go cry and then have a cup of tea. Feel free to join me. I can, at least, brew a decent cup of tea. See you in the trenches.

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