Summing Up

“Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” – Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride (it’s probably not word-perfect. Been awhile since I watched the movie).

I finally buckled down and wrote my synopsis today. I wouldn’t call it a pleasant experience, exactly, and I probably could have planned it out a little better. I have yWriter on my computer, so maybe what I should have done was go in and plot the novel out in it and use its synopsis utility. May still go back and do that. For those of you unaware of it, yWriter is a free software program you can download here that you can use to plot a novel. It has a scene utility, will lay out your story in storyboard form and you can even write your novel in it if you wish. If I remember correctly, it uses RTF as a text editor. I’m using it primarily for my space opera because I have six viewpoints I’m writing from, and they’re scattered across space and time (literally). yWriter helps me keep everything organized and the storyboard function is great for keeping the timeline straight. The synopsis function let’s you enter chapter summary information and will put it all in a synopsis of your choice when you finish putting everything in. Considering how many agents and publishers want a synopsis, this is excellent.

Anyway, at first I was trying to keep it as short as possible, but that wasn’t working out too well. I decided it’s easier to take out than put in, so I just skimmed through my ms and wrote the synopsis, keeping it as brief as I could. It’s not easy to reduce 100,000 words down to less than eight pages. I didn’t. Mine came out at just over 3,000 words and nine pages. I want to trim that up some, and I sent it to my daughter to get her opinion on it. She hasn’t had it long, though, so I doubt she’s had time to get to it yet. The hard one is going to be cutting it down to two pages. The article “Synopsis Workshop” (by Chuck Sambuchino and the Editors of Writer’s Digest) I have on writing a synopsis in my Writer’s Digest Guide called Get An Agent says the formula used to be one page of synopsis for every 35 of ms up to eight pages. But these days agents want it “now-now-now. Many agents today request synopses of no more than two pages.” They go on to say that some even want it to be only one page, but that two pages is usually okay.

So I still have some work to do on mine, but at least I finally knuckled down and did it. Editing is easier than writing it, and I doubt very seriously that I’ll ever come to enjoy this side of the writing business. I’m slowly coming to like editing my ms better, because I’m starting to enjoy the idea of tightening up my story and making it better. I feel a little sense of pride when I take an okay or good sentence and make it better, especially with this ms. I thought I had it in pretty good shape, but, as I believe I noted in my previous post, when I started looking at it again to see how the first 50 pages were, I realized it needed more work. And I’ve been able to tighten it up considerably. I think that, in just the first 60+ pages, I’ve deleted somewhere close to 1,000 words. By the time I’m through it may fall slightly short of 100,000 words, but that’s okay.

Now I just have to learn how to edit a synopsis. And write them better in the first place. Here goes nothing.

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