The dreaded synopsis

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There are certain words that will strike fear into the heart of authors.  I imagine these words differ from one author to another.

Some authors panic at the word revisions.

I bet there are still a lot of authors who have lengthy panic spells revolving around the words release date, whether they’ve been writing for a couple of years or a couple of decades.

Contract negotiation is probably another.  Covers.

Want to know my panic words?

Synopsis. Outline.

These words terrify me every single time.

I’ve never been the kind of writer to work from an outline.  That doesn’t mean I’ve never done them.  Through the Veil was complicated enough that I had to have an outline.

The story I’m writing now, Shattered, is requiring a little bit of an outline.  The romantic suspense trilogy I’m doing for Ballantine, I’m outlining some…mostly in my mind, but that counts, right?  Not to mention that the few outlines I’ve done probably wouldn’t be recognizable as an outline to anybody other than me.

In general, the dreaded synopsis is not my friend.

Telling somebody how a story is going to go?  Months before I write it?  Talk about terror. Even when a story is done, I’m not that good at summarizing it up.

Example…my editor at Berkley emailed me the other day about Hunter’s Need.  It’s time to start getting the artwork together for it.  She asked me for the character descriptions and a synopsis.  Cringe.

Now even though this book is done, and I recall most of the details, I still flinched.  Even though this editor knows how I work…I still flinched.

I threw together a hodge-podge description detailing the main aspects of the book.

Think ‘boy meets girl-girl sets boy up to be killed although she really doesn’t want that-it’s more a cry for help-boy and girl both survive and years later boy and girl have to work together to save a life’.  Maybe a little bit more detailed than that, but I can’t give much more detail without giving the story away…*G*

Anyway, I send this in to my editor, who knows how my mind works, and I wait on pins and needles wondering if that will work.  Does it work?

Yep.  This editor is happy with just… ‘boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, evil mayhem ensues, true love conquers all and boy and girl live happily ever after’.

Is that a synopsis?  Not be any stretch of the imagination.  But it works for her.

The irony?

When I was still writing solely for epubs, I briefly worked with an editor who told me:

“Unless you learn to write a proper synopsis, you will never be able to make it in New York City.”

The one thing I’ve learned about writing…never believe a person who says, You’ll never make it…