Perpetually Mangling Synopses…Syndrome
I don’t care what Diana says, synopsis writing for me is like going to Hell and finding out they have smokes, but not menthol, and Dunkin Donuts coffee, but no cream, and Doritos, but only Cool Ranch.
Logically, I know and understand everything she said—always have. Doesn’t mean I can do it. I “know” how to drive a standard, but that doesn’t mean I don’t chirp the tires to death and stall at every intersection. I have a method (for writing synopses, not driving standards—my method for that is owning automatics), and the method works, but it sucks.
It all starts with “the storyboard”. It’s not really a storyboard, I don’t think, but that’s what I call it. I go into Excel and make empty boxes—one box for each chapter. For the synopsis I’m currently mangling, my storyboard is a grid of 20 boxes. I print the sheet and then use a pencil to fill up the boxes. I’m not tracking arcs and subplots and my ratio of suspense to romance. I just jot down the highlights of each chapter—usually each box has 3 sentences in it, since I’m usually a 3 scenes per chapter kinda gal. And it’s nothing fancy. In box 6, for example, I have jotted down “wet dreams”. There are no wet dreams in chapter 6. Those are key words which invoke an entire scene which resides in my head. That’s pretty much the extent of my plotting.
When it comes to writing the synopsis, I can’t break myself of being a slave to the storyboard. It’s my “an den” version. She arrives at the club…an den…she dances with the hero…an den…she excuses herself to powder her nose and runs into the club owner…an den… It’s not pretty. It’s long as hell, but not pretty. Then, when I’ve finished writing a blow-by-blow account of my storyboard, I open a blank document. Then I write the real synopsis—the version which encompasses the soul of the story, evoking the tone and feel of the actual book. The version with no “an dens”.
It’s an incredibly inefficient way to write a synopsis, but it’s the only way I can do it. But I’ve learned that it’s more efficient for me because my muse doesn’t cough up the pretty version. So I just do the “an den” version and get it over with.
So today I’m struggling through the wrapping up of the pretty version (which isn’t easy even after I’ve done the first version.) I wish this was an aspect of writing that came easy to me, but it doesn’t.
Fortunately, my smokes are menthol, my coffee has cream and my Doritos are original nacho-licious.