Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I have this proposal I'm working on. That's not accurate in the strictest sense, as I'm not proposing this book with the hope someone will buy it. It's already sold. So maybe it's more accurate to say it's a synopsis, so my editor will give me the green light to go ahead and write it. The good news? I don't need pie charts or graphs.
The bad news? Well...
Trying to write a synopsis before the book is written is hard for me. I've gotten better at it. I can generally put together 2-3 pages that make it sound like I know what's going to happen, but I never do. It gives me a headache to think too long about unwritten books. That's where I am, though, career-wise, and I'm certainly not unhappy with that.
The funny part is, I can take almost as long to write a synopsis as it would take me to bang out the first 15K of the novel. To me it seems like time ill-spent, but that's the process, and I understand the reason they want some idea of what I'll be handing in. It would totally suck if I wrote the thing and they were like, "Hm, our demand for psychic ninjas just is not very high right now..." (I'm not writing a book about psychic ninjas by the way.)
In order to make this work, I have to do a lot of thinking about the characters and their emotional journey. That way, I can give them life in the synopsis without focusing too much on the actual plot. Sometimes I do that via backstory, which gives my editor a sense of what kind of people they are. Then just a general arc of where the story headed will usually suffice.
All told, I can't decide whether this or waiting after a pitch is my least favorite part of the job. What's your peeve? (If you're not a writer or an aspirant, you can list a general one.)