Being brief is an art
… and it sure doesn’t come natural to me, which is why writing a good synopsis is something of a challenge. It must be short, give an insight into the characters’ personality, tell the main plot, reveal the end and all of this preferably in 500 words. Aaagh! My 110 000 word novel and they expect me to reduce it to a mere one page?
I agonize for some moments as to what sentences need to be further cut back, correct a couple of tense errors (a synopsis should, apparently, always be written in present tense and third person) and wonder just how much of the side plots to pare away (All… sigh). Finally I have a 650 word document that rather baldly tells my fast and pacy story (and it’s difficult, I tell you,to do that AND try to get some of the emotions involved across).
“Who reads this anyway?” I ask my computer. (No reply – something of a relief) Yes, who reads this? Well, for a start, I do. I ALWAYS read the back cover of books I am thinking of buying, This insight drives the angst level up a further notch or two. I rush over to my book shelves and start tearing out books to count the number of words in the back cover texts. 150, 167, 196, 183 … shit, they’re all below 200!
Okay, okay, calm down, I tell myself – not out loud, I try to keep these internal monologues silent. A back cover text is very different from a synopsis as it should NOT reveal the end, nor should it do more than give the reader a flavour. (You know, you pick up the book because it’s called “When the wind calls you home” and has a fantastic cover depicting a field of gigantic sunflowers dipping their head in the wind, but when you flip it over to realise it’s a book about two guys, a dog, a tandem bike and windmills. At this point I might put it down again, as I was hoping for an insightful novel set in Provence and starring Van Gogh and his complicated love life. And then again, I might not…)
I spend an hour or so reading back covers. I then waste a lot of time doodling sunflowers and prancing horses. I make myself lunch. I take the dog out. End of procrastination, I’m back at my computer.
Two hours later I am looking at a page that says:
On a muggy August day in 2002 Alexandra Lind is inexplicably thrown several centuries backwards in time to 1658.
I decide to call it a day – it’s a start, right? Besides, Alex Lind has been demanding my attention for some time by now as I left her in a most precarious situation and, she tells me rather angrily, her limbs are beginning to cramp after several hours of holding on to a sheer cliff face. Oops. Best get her out of that situation and throw her into the next one!