Thursday, 2 February 2012

Approaching agents: synopses

Helpful daughter sat down with me as we looked at literary agents. We thought they would all want similar things - which they generally do. Three chapters, a query letter with information about the book and the author, and a synopsis.
  1. I don't like synopses. I find them much more difficult to write than books.
  2. I don't like saying the words synopsis, it sounds like a snake did a somersault.
  3. Every agent wants something different from the synopsis.
One wants an outline. Another wants a punchy summary that would make them want to read the book. One wants three closely typed pages, one wants no more than 1000 words, one wants no more than 3000, one wants 300 words (eek!) and the worse one wants - wait for it - three sentences. Ninety-three thousand words, two strands, four hundred years and nine important characters in three sentences? Will these be the hundred word sentences Thomas Hardy used to excel at?

It turns out, sending stuff to agents will be way harder than writing another book. Maybe I should write book 2's synopsis first. So, I turned to Nicola Morgan's excellent little book on writing synopses (there he goes again, tumbling serpent) and she warns of this phenomenon. So I sat down and wrote 1, one thousand word synopsis. At a squeeze, and in Times New Roman 11 and single spaced - one closely typed page. Three sentence lady is out the window.

Then I noticed something odd. The book is front heavy, I wrote the final chapters less well and in less detail than the front chapters. So is the synopsis. When I realise how to balance up the synopsis...ideas about how to fit the book just pop into my head. Maybe these synopsisy thingies (look at them go! Cirque du Soleil for reptiles!) have extra uses?

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