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Writing a synopsis and other stuff...

A review to make me smile:

"One can sum up Liu's sequel to her TIGER EYE (2005) as X-Men meets James Bond, but that shortchanges the lyricism and emotional sophistication of her prose and doesn't hint at the larger story she's just beginning to tell. Artur and Elena's relationship is one of the smartest and most mature love affairs to grace the pages of romance. If you have yet to add Liu to your must-read list, you're doing yourself – and your patrons – a disservice." -- Booklist (starred, boxed review)

***

PBW has a nice set of links on how to write a synopsis, a must-have accompaniment to any submission or proposal. I don't mind writing a synopsis when the book is done, but writing one ahead of time absolutely kills me. The reason is that I don't write by outline - I'm a total by-the-seat-of-your pants kind of girl, and being strapped down to a story just gives my mind the willies. But a synopsis is necessary. Kind of like toilet paper.

Anyway, my synopsis for Tiger Eye was about two and a half double spaced pages long. Here's the first bit:

While vacationing in China, Dela Reese – an artisan blacksmith with a psychic affinity for metal – is pressured into buying a small box from an old woman. When Dela examines her new purchase, something astonishing happens: a man appears in a burst of light. A warrior named Hari, who claims to be a shape-shifter – a tiger – and her slave.

Appalled, Dela vows to treat Hari as a friend and equal. Hari’s trust, however, is tattered. Betrayal has made him doubt all promises, even those sealed in blood. And yet, there is something inside Dela that calls to him – to the man he was, to the man he could be yet again.

Just as Dela and Hari begin to grow accustomed to each other, Dela is attacked by a man bearing one of her crafted weapons – a knife stolen from her only months before. Time soon reveals another danger: the reemergence of a nightmare from Hari’s own past – the Magi who cursed him to an eternity of slavery. The Magi wants Hari back – but the only way he can become the shape-shifter’s master is if Dela is dead.


And so on, and so on. I'm not sure I sold the book because of the synopsis, but at least it was there to give a whole picture of the novel. I'm not going to tell you to follow my example, because for all I know my editor didn't rely upon or care for the way I wrote my synopsis, but one thing I did try to keep in mind as I hammered it out was to make every sentence count. Make every sentence carry the story forward -- tell some essential fact. I wanted to introduce my main characters in the first two paragraphs, and in doing so, set up their personal conflict -- and by the third paragraph, voila! External conflict. Which is a very dry way of saying (to paraphrase another writer) that your foot is in the bear trap, you've got wolves at your back, you're naked and have no weapons, and now it's time to figure out a way to save your life (and get the guy or girl).

There, your story. And your synopsis. Make it short, sweet, and rock on!

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ccfinlay
Jan. 23rd, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
I'm a total by-the-seat-of-your pants kind of girl, and being strapped down to a story just gives my mind the willies. But a synopsis is necessary. Kind of like toilet paper.

Yeah. Because you don't want to replace toliet paper with the seat of your pants.
jperceval
Jan. 23rd, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
That is an awesome and accurate review comment! :-)
(Anonymous)
Jan. 25th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
Awesome review :)

Veronica Mars has a soundtrack? From the 1st season, I'm assuming...

-aj
(Anonymous)
Feb. 19th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
That sounds like an awesome book the way you wrote your synopsis. I am a young (teenage) writer and well, sorta freaking out about the whole publishing thing. This really helped me out. THANKS!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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