Off in my own world…

Listening to: Guster, “C’mon”

Sorry I’ve been off in la-la-land lately. I’ve been on a serious reading kick.

How serious? Well, I read Twilight this week.


The first time, I was just plain hooked. Seriously, even if you don’t read YA fiction, give it a try. It’s a fascinating, wonderful book. The second time I read it…well, I was trying to figure out just how she did that. How on earth did she make the central relationship so darn compelling? I had to know.

Part of it is conflict, of course. The protagonist and her love interest are very much a supernatural Romeo and Juliet. Star-crossed, indeed.

Part of it is the characterization–Stephenie Meyer definitely has a gift for compelling characters. The protagonist (Bella) is a fascinating character, very intelligent, quick-witted, dry, and self-effacing.

The dialogue is great, too. Sparkling, witty, insightful.

To which I can only say…*sigh*. There are many books that I enjoy, quite a few I adore, but it takes something very compelling to ratchet my envy level up so high. For the first time in quite a while, I read a book and thought, with a great deal of vehemence, “Dammit! Why couldn’t I have written that?”

But I didn’t, and I’ve decided I can’t let one writer’s brilliance shatter my confidence…for very long.

In my own writing world, I’m in the dreaded synopsis territory. Every time I do this, it’s like the very first time all over again. I go through sixteen different methods before I find that a muddled combination of all them works.

I use this method, combined with a bulleted list method. Basically, I try to boil the essence down to a single sentence, then a paragraph. Then, as I work on the one-page version, I find myself going into far too much detail and surpassing a single page, so I decide to break it all down into a bulleted list of important plot points to hit.

Once I’ve got my plot points mapped out, I go through and flesh them out with important details. Of course, this is the part that trips me up again, as I find myself trying to insert too many details. Next thing I know, I’m past one page again, so I have to review it all and ferret out those pesky, unnecessary details.

And so on, and so forth.

My main problem is that I don’t know how long a synopsis should be. Most guidelines say, “However long the agent or editor says it should be.” Well, it’s rare to find that exact information on an agent’s website or listing, so I’m left standing right where I was. I want a standard synopsis to send to agents that request it with the initial query, and I want something more should an agent want further detail.

So here’s what I do.

I prepare two synopses. One is a single page, single-spaced (I’ve been told if it’s one page, it can be single spaced. I’ve probably been misled). The other is three or more pages, double-spaced. I usually get self-indulgent and let it stretch to five pages. This way, I at least feel prepared, although just watch. I’m bound to stumble upon an agent that wants two to three pages.

Maybe I should make one that length, too.

This way lies madness.

Anyhow, that’s how I do it. Anyone else have particular methods they use, or prepare synopses in different lengths than I described above? Am I way off base here? Talk to me!

One thought on “Off in my own world…

  1. I’ve only used a one-page synopsis in agent queries. But then, they never specified the length, so I was just playing it safe.

    I too, was struggling with my synopsis all week, trying to get ready for that contest. It’s interesting that we’re at the same point in our novels.

    That book sounds great. I’ve only immediately re-read a handful of books. Pride and Prejudice. Les Miserables (abridged – I admit it). The Deed of Paksenarrion. If Tomorrow Comes. Clan of the Cave Bear. The Once and Future King. And I have purchased more than one copy of most of the above books!

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