Cue Theme from JAWS–The Synopsis is Coming
I’ve made one of those decisions. You know, the kind that come with a load of goal-setting and self-commitment? The ones you start out sure you’re going to follow through on and then, too often, they go missing somewhere along the way?
Well, I’m going to try and stick with this one. I’m going to apply for next year’s SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant.
The application process is pretty straightforward—there’s a form, a writing sample, and…a synopsis.
I could very easily let the synopsis, heck…the whole idea…intimidate me into not trying for this. If Mr. Spock were here, or Data, we could get a whole debate going about the exact statistical odds of me actually winning. (And, sorry, Data, I know you’re a computer, but I’d totally have to go with Spock on this one.) So I’m trying not to focus too much on how many trips to Chicago that prize money would fund and concentrate, instead, on what I can actually get out of applying.
Like the synopsis.
How many times have I (or you) heard that writing a synopsis before you’ve finished your book is the way to go? That it helps you hone in on what your hero wants, how she goes for it, where the conflicts lie, and what power/strength she brings to the story to overcome those conflicts? And, okay, how many times have you listened to this advice and then gone off and…written the synopsis? Until, you know, an agent wants one with the query letter?
I thought so.
Well, I have written one synopsis, and it didn’t stop the agent from requesting a full manuscript, so I know it didn’t stink. But, hey, that book was finished. Finished like six times! Whereas, a lot of days, thinking about my WIP feels a lot like this:
So I’m taking an online class–it starts next week. (And if it’s a good class, you’ll hear more about it here.) I’ll be learning the format/structure of a synopsis, but I’m also really going to use the time to try and pull some of the very loose story threads I’m working with into a tighter weave. I’m hoping that, by figuring out what I need to know (and highlight) for the synopsis, I’ll get closer to the big points of my overall plot. I’m getting close to the end of my first draft, so this seems an okay time to start thinking more about this. Not to mention the timing of the class fell right into the only two weeks in the next few months where I don’t have something else scheduled! Can you say “Omen?!”
I figure, whatever happens, this step will move me and my story forward. Do I want to win? Well, duh…
Then I’d better take it seriously and do the best job I can. Which, I’m pretty sure, means learning more about my story and writing a STRONG synopsis. So move over, boys…
I’m getting in the boat.