Friday, August 24, 2012

The Dreaded Synopsis

I have almost finished the synopsis for The Worsted That Could Happen. When I explain how I wrote it, it will become clear why I’ll never be a writing teacher.

I think I could probably just turn in a few paragraphs or at most a few pages. My editor just wants to see the story I have in mind. Actually we traded emails about the story for this book quite a while ago and she nixed the original idea I had. A half an hour later I sent her a revised story idea and she liked.

So, I’m even more convinced that something short would be fine with my editor. But by now, I write the synopsis for me. So how do I do it? First, I think a lot, usually in the morning while I’m drinking coffee. Then I start writing scene ideas on index cards. There are other notes on them to. I even number them. After that, I write kind of an overview of what I know so far on a yellow tablet. There are usually lots of gaps and things missing, like names. I just refer to them by their role in the story. I try to keep the yellow sheets in order, though often forget to number the page. I also try to keep my handwriting legible, but that doesn’t always work.

I take the whole pile of cards and stack of yellow sheets and put them next to my computer - and never look at them again, which is probably just as well since the more enthused I get writing on the yellow pads, the more my handwriting degrades.

The thing is, by now I am into the story, so when I begin typing on the computer, I know a lot of what’s going to happen already. I write the set up and just keep going through until I get to the end, knowing there is a lot of repeated information and stuff to take out. But I do have the rhythm of the story and I can see how I have planted information. I end up with about ten pages when I get finished going over it.

Once I get my editor’s approval, I’ll put a hard copy of the synopsis with the yellow sheets and index cards and probably never look at it again unless I get stuck when it may come in handy. I say may, because the story could have veered off from the original plan. While, the actual book will have the basic bones of the synopsis, it always changes as I write it.

I imagine a writing teacher would have a more organized approach. Like maybe they would use the index cards as some kind of guide. But then I have never claimed to be organized. And yet, despite the chaos in my house, I know where everything is even if I didn’t put it down.

Are you organized or do you operate by the seat of your pants?


Planner said...

I wouldn't mess with a system that works! It sounds like you know exactly what works for you.

As far as my being organized--only in my dreams.

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in the seat of the pants department.