Write on- Watch snails mate or write a synopsis?

I would rather watch two snails placed on opposite sides of a large garden try to find each other than write a synopsis.

She’s somewhere on the other side of the garden..

I am sure there are a thousand things better to do in one’s life, but.. Why is there always a but? I have to write the dreaded synopsis.  I have two weeks to condense the essence of a novel into something breath-taking, fabulous, mind-blowing, and awesome. It is the hardest thing to write. It would be easier to write a new novel than complete this feat. But, it has to be done. I’ve been putting it off far too long!

The Voyage of the Pequod from the book Moby Di...

The Voyage of the Pequod from the book Moby Dick by Herman Melville; one of a series of 12 literary maps based on British and American literature, produced by the Harris-Seybold Company of Cleveland between 1953 and 1964. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the problems with writing a synopsis is quite simply fighting the urge to tell all. There are so many scenes that you want the reader to be aware of, so many little nuances. I mean if you were to write a  blow by blow synopsis of Moby Dick maybe it would read like this

Ishmael suddenly announces his intent to go abroad a whaling vessel. He is a sailor but never before has he stepped  on to  a whaling boat. He travels to New Bedford, Massachusetts and stays in a whaler’s inn.  The inn is full so he shares a bed with a harpooner named Queequeg.

Are we asleep yet? The name Queequeg did wake me up a bit. Little tricky to spell.

The two men become friends and try to get work on a whaling vessel..Okay I can’t even continue at this point. I am so bored I will never read this book and Moby Dick is a fabulous book! How do you write a good synopsis that will sell?

English: Illustration from an early edition of...

English: Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You do have to get across what the novel is about. Who the main characters are, and most importantly what are their conflicts. A perfect life makes boring reading.

I wish I could remember which agent passed on this little gem, but I can’t. If you are out there reading this, pop me an email if you want to be identified!

But she said, go find a good book review and try to make your synopsis read like that.

That makes sense, you want to grab the reader and  a really good book review sells books and hooks readers.

So I think I will go read some book reviews and see whether that will joggle my brain a bit. Here’s hoping I can write something decent before my pitch session! I will keep you posted!

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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10 Responses to Write on- Watch snails mate or write a synopsis?

  1. crubin says:

    Ahh, the dreaded synopsis. It’s like trying to cram a size-16 body into size-2 pants. Good luck. I don’t blame you for choosing the snails. 🙂

  2. Cameron says:

    It’s possible I’ve avoided finishing my novel based on this very problem. No finished novel? No synopsis.

  3. paralaxvu says:

    Lovely snail, though;-)

  4. Good luck, Susan. I abhor writing a synopsis, too. Three paragraphs to condense the essence of endless revisions of a book?? Sheer torture designed to drive novelists insane.

  5. You can do it 😀 I have supreme confidence in your skills, Susan. Good luck with that pitch session!

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