Thursday, January 7, 2010

Writing Not Waffling

There's something beautifully torturous about writing a synopsis. The paring down of my rather short novel (keep in mind I'm looking ahead at the 1,000+ pages of Areia I'll be editing next) to 1-3 pages is akin to a school assignment. The query letter I could pretend I was writing a book jacket or the movie preview text (with the ending given away). The synopsis is too long for that.

The synopsis is like a book report. Only, it is exactly the type of book report your teacher told you to not write, the one where you recap the novel, major scene by scene.

I realized earlier this week that I was approaching the synopsis the wrong way. I was writing sentence by sentence, pondering each word, each phrase, trying to make perfection happen with each line before moving on.

That works for some writers. That's how Evanovich says she writes in How I Write. It makes draft two a very easy edit, but it makes draft one take forever.

It doesn't work for me. I don't write novels that way. I write them in a rush, as the creativity is flowing. (To give you an idea, with Sasha, I was writing about 8 pages in two hours, every day.) I don't worry about perfect word choice. I don't pause when the dialog isn't coming just right. Sometimes the best I get is the sense of the scene. More often than not, even if what I'm writing comes slowly and painfully and I feel like I'm haphazardly tossing words on the page, when I go back for the first read, there are parts of magic mixed in. And having the outline, the form, the pacing makes the second draft go fairly quickly. Even if what I wrote is completely wrong, I at least have somewhere to start from.

So I stopped waffling over each word and wrote the synopsis. I was aiming for three pages, and I got three and a half, which is remarkable for this long-winded author. I've been trimming and tightening since, which so far hasn't shortened the synopsis one bit, but it has made it cleaner, clearer. Hopefully with a few more days, I'll have something presentable. Then watch out world!


Marc said...

I hate writing a synopses. I hate the short ones and the long ones. I don't know which ones I hate more. I also don't know why some agents want them without at least a couple of chapters. Good luck with yours!

Rebecca Chastain said...

Thanks for the support, Marc. I hope synopses get easier with each novel published!