Today's guest blogger is the fantabulous Liz Flaherty! Liz's latest novel, Home to Singing Trees, is out from The Wild Rose Press soon! Thanks for joining us, Liz!
There is nothing I hate to write more than a synopsis. Even though I’m learning—after 15 years or so in this business—to put a little plotting into my pantsing way of writing life, I still don’t do synopses until the story’s done, I have typed “The End,” and I’ve started the first run-through to catch the 4000 times I used the words “just” and “that.” I even, thanks to the insistence of CPs, remove a few dialogue tags here and there. But then there’s the synopsis. It is the toothache of writing, and there is no Novocain that will take away the pain of it.
So mine are bad. This, like the use of dialogue tags, that, and just, is a part of my writing I’ve learned to live with. I read articles about synopses by published authors I admire, read every “example” synopsis that comes down the pike, and try—as has been suggested in most of those articles—to put my voice into the synopsis when I write it.
Well. The truth is, if my synopses are indicative of my voice, I need to shut up and go home. Since I’m not going to do that in this lifetime, I pretty much accept that mine are awful and hope my books sell on their own merits. That’s what it’s about, right? Not formatting or which font I use or if my synopsis sucks.
Except that the other day when I got a rejection from Carina Press on a project, the synopsis was part of the reason for it. As rejections go, it was as well thought out as any I had ever read. It was kind as well as blunt, and I appreciated the time and skill involved in the writing of it. One thing stood out. Editor Angela James wrote, “As an aside from an editorial POV, a synopsis is crucial to us in disclosing all aspects of the story, including conflict and secrets. Essentially, we should feel as if we've read the book without all of the dialogue/narrative included!”
This will probably not change me—or my abysmal synopsis skills—overnight. It may not allow me to sell my next submission, though I hope it helps. But it will make me work harder at this least favorite aspect of what is my most favorite thing to do: write stories.