Writing Haven

By Erin MacLeod

Welcome to Writing Haven! Here I'm going to share short stories, answer questions, and keep everyone up to date on my writing and publication journey. Hope to see you in the comments!

  • Erin MacLeod

Synopsis More Like Synopesis

Honestly, writing a synopsis was harder than writing OR editing Haven. I wasn't sure how to do it because I am famously bad at summarizing things as my third grade teacher can attest. I had to do a book report project on the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which included a summary. It was supposed to be a few paragraphs. Mine was six pages.

As you can imagine, this experience didn't endear me to the whole process, so it was with an apprehensive heart that I set forth.

Being me, I spent almost a week doing research before I started working. The technique I ended up using required me to summarize each scene in a single sentence. Being inherently lazy, I used a writing site, Fictionary, to break the scenes out. That turned out to be a good idea because I was able to focus on the important thing in each scene as opposed to stressing over the entire thing.

The problem was that once I'd done that I had a whole lot of sentences that didn't necessarily tell the plot in a plain or coherent way. I still needed to go in and make it smooth.

Surprisingly, Wikipedia was a big help here. Reading the summaries of my favorite books showed me how to decide which were essential to understanding the plot and which were nice but not necessary.

Of course, the only reason I wrote the synopsis was because I was querying an agent who wanted a synopsis. Before that I'd been putting it off because it was intimidating and I thought it'd be hard. I wasn't wrong.

The blurb was easier and I'd written that almost two years before I wrote the synopsis, back when I was first looking for beta readers. The thing with blurbs is that it's easier to figure out what's enticing about your story than it is to summarize the whole thing in under a page. A summary doesn't have to be attractive, it just has to tell the story.

Still, my blurb wasn't easy. It's been through quite a few iterations throughout the years and I'm almost happy with it. It still needs work.

I also did a lot of research on blurbs, specifically what agents wanted out of it. The amazing QueryShark was very useful here. Her archive of queries broke down what did and didn't work for queries and how to improve them. I actually submitted my query to her, but it didn't get chosen.

Regardless, my blurb was a lot of fun to write. It's like a summary in that I have to give a breakdown of the plot but without the stress of having to get everything in there.

It did have to be enticing in a way a synopsis doesn't, which isn't easy. What exactly made my book worth reading? Why should readers waste their time on my book? For that matter, why should agents and publishers?

These were all important question that needed answers. It helped that I already had my premise and a very strong sense of what my past readers liked in my story. From that, I wrote a quick thing about how Owen needed to protect his family, who were being turned into genetically engineered monsters. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.

Later blurbs were played with, finagled until it was that much more enticing and occasionally breaking the whole thing down to entirely rewrite it. Surprisingly, you can also get beta readers for blurbs, so I got a few of those as well.

My blurb and my synopsis both still need work, but it's getting closer with each iteration.

See you next week, where I write about my experiences with beta reading and being beta read!

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