Monday, May 23, 2005

The "S" Word

Yeah, you think you already know what it is. If you're a writer, you DEFINITELY know what it is. If you're not a writer, you THINK you know what it is, and granted, it's probably right in the same vile-word category.

SYNOPSIS!!!


You chicken. I see you flailing and screaming and ripping your clothes from your panicked body, reminescent of Old Testament times, and I'm sure your dramatic performance would impress even poor ol' Job's wife. But really, it's okay. I promise.

And I just LIED!

In my last post, I mentioned how I'm not planning on writing full time until late August, and now is the perfect opportunity to say what I WILL be doing. Last night, I came up with a new story line, and then I fleshed it out bouncing it off someone (not B) and realized that for a short category, I'm dang near the point of being able to write a short synopsis on it. Imagine that.

Many writers I know are on the FIRST DRAFT email loop that gives little articles and news in the publishing world. Today I got two on SYNOPSIS. If you know me mostly as a writer, you'll know already that I'm collecting all things synopsis. I'm printing out anything I think is valuable, even if it's just a one pager. I went to Julie Kenner's class she gave our Austin group. Also, if you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll remember my rant on how nothing in publishing has any definite rules, minus that blasted 37 cent SASE. So I figure I'll take bits and pieces of everything I've learned to create my own style. Sounds like a FABULOUS plan, doesn't it? Thanks, I thought so, too.

So this morning, while reading Noah Lukeman's FIRST FIVE PAGES, I look up at my email and see the First Draft emails are here, and they're on synopses. Well rock on. I can add them to the 200 sheets already in my SYNOPSIS BINDER (yes, I have an entire binder devoted JUST to synopses...I'm such a loser.) Imagine my surprise when I'm reading this article and it says (my paraphrase) "I'm not even going to cover the format of a synopsis, that's something you should all already know."

Umm, 'scuse me? Some insist that your synopsis be double spaced like the 'script. Some say single spaced. Some say single spaced, but only up to 2 pages. If you double space, start each new paragraph with an indention. If you're single spacing it, left justify all paragraphs with leaving a single line break between each one. Some people say you can use Times New Roman (once again, refer back to my rant post). Some say that if the 'script is done in Courier New, the synopsis should be as well. Some say that doesn't matter.

And frankly, I think I'm going to stick to the Kenner and Brennan method. If you do it right (whichever right may be for YOU), it's not going to matter what FORMAT you use. Julie recently told us that she sent out one that was 22 pages (maybe 25, not sure, but it was HONKIN'!) and not only that, but it was alllllll single spaced. Granted, she's published and published TONS, but it just goes to show there is no ONE way. After looking at the publishing business for a year now, I'm totally believing her and Allison. If so many people have SO many opinions on what way is the "right way", then they must have succeeded in "that" way, right? Which means each editor, each agent that said, "Yes, we want you" made that author believe they had the Magic Synopsis Key. All of that simply proves there is no ONE right way.

So I'll do it the way I think represents my book in its best light. And not enter a single contest in which some anal judge (not all are, but we all had that one, haven't we?) will mark me down based on HER opinion, and not score me for the ONE appropriate thing: Does my synopsis tell and sell the story?

So there.

3 comments:

randy said...

At the workshop I went to last Saturday, the multi-pubbed author sheepishly admitted to one of her synopses being 30 pages (with the first ten single spaced)!! So, you're absolutely right. Format doesn't matter (although there are some anal editors and agents out there, but in their case, they scream their requirements to the rafters). As long as it's readable, reflects a great story, and shows off your voice, I think you're home free.

Lis said...

Hey Brenda!

I just gave a workshop last week on the dreaded synopsis. If you want my notes, email me and I'll send them over :o)

leesielis AT yahoo . com (minus the spaces and at)

Brenda Bradshaw said...

lis, I tried that email (done the right way, of course) but it came back with an error. If you see this, email me through here!