Scifi and Fantasy Forum: Writer's Discussion: Problems with Writing:
Problems with Writing:
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|Posted By: Seidon Jun 25, 2002 - 02:42 am || |
Hey guys, just found this place but looks to be the most used fantasy writing forum I've found yet.
Either way, I'm a pretty hardcore writer, I've finished, rewrote, edited my most recent novel. Currently I'm attempting to write a synopsis for it to be able to send to agents along with the query, SASE, etc...
I understand how integral an excellent synopsis is in selling a novel. It can make or break you... due to this I've spent a VERY long time doing research into writing a synopsis.
Now I'm stuck.
Nobody ever talks about writing a fantasy synopsis, everybody talks about mainstream fiction, romance, or weird books. All the sample synopses that I've read are based on books that are set in our world, are fairly short(200-300 pgs), involve only maybe two to four main/secondary and have a fairly linear plotline...
Unfortunately for anybody who reads or write fantasy, it is obvious that most of these traits don't apply to the genre. Generally fantasy books aren't set in our world, are a tad bit longer then normal fiction (300-500 pgs), and have plots that can range to anything from a mystery, to a romance, to a story told from end to beginning(or all of these mixed together)
One of the best things about the fantasy genre is its ability to encompass anything anybody wants to write about.
Unfortunately that leaves me sitting at my computer at 3 in the morning with a cup of coffee surfing the net for any sort of documentation that might help me write my synopsis... which has led me here.
So a few of the questions I have are:
My recent novel is an approx word count of 225,000 words and 43 chapters plus an epilogue. Any suggestions on how long a suitable synopsis should be?
Is there any place anybody knows of with a sample fantasy synopsis? A proper one for a published book?
When you're dealing with a plotline that is rather complex plot is it acceptable to write it in a linear fashion for the sake of efficency?
(example: I give very little background information on the world my character is set in at the beginning of my book. The background and history of the world is woven slowly into the story and plotline to make it less tedious for the reader then simply having a brand new world thrown at them in a prologue, which means that by the end of the book you have an excellent grasp of the world and history but hardly realize where it has come from. Due to this I am unsure of how to describe my "setting" in one concise paragraph as most synopsis examples tell me to do.)
I have one MAIN character, then about 7 very important secondary characters, should I describe them all and their roles, or attempt to cut some from the synopsis(once again for efficiency sake) and stitch the plot together as best as I can for the agent without them?
What do people think of a chapter by chapter synopsis? I wrote a chapter by chapter synopsis about two nights ago and it ended up being 25,000 words long... which no matter how dramatic and descriptive is dry reading when its all in narrative present tense...
Anyways sorry about the long post but I'm at the end of my rope here and not expecting all my questions to be answered but am hopefully looking for some suggestions and from what I've seen this looks like the best forum for it.
Please reply, or feel free to email me at email@example.com
Much Appreciated, I.R.
|Posted By: Seidon Jun 25, 2002 - 03:34 am || |
oops, did a wrong word count. I just did the formal word count tonight and did it wrong. I've been up way too long...
Anyways, not that it matters but my book is only about 160k words long, according to the formal caculation. (total words in ten lines / 10 * lines per page * pages in book... I think that's right)
|Posted By: Ulfgar Jun 25, 2002 - 05:20 am || |
Welcome to the board. Great job on managing to finish a 160,000 word novel! That's impressive, and shows alot of effort.
That's a good question, and I have no immediate answer. Although you have probably reviewed this resource, I would recommend
This is a useful list of articles regarding the writing process.
Anyway, I wish I had a clear answer for you. As I am in the middle of writing, I have not thought much about that part of the process yet. I had always believed that sample chapters were required and that any synopsis would be very short.
Hope this helps at least a bit.
|Posted By: Seidon Jun 25, 2002 - 05:41 am || |
Thanks for the reply, and actually this is my fourth finished full length novel(also my longest) but is my first work that I consider good enough to professionally pursue. Heh, I trashed the other three.
And I've visited the sfwa site quite a bit but where their material is helpful in most cases sometimes it is unfortunately lacking...
A synopsis is a brutal thing, trying to fit a 500 page book into five pages is painful. Plus if you get used to writing in third person past tense as most fiction writers do, switching to narrative first person is mildly frustrating.
I've finished my query/cover letter and first three chapters are pretty much finished as far as detailed grammatical edit goes. Now all that is really left before I have a package to send off is the dreaded synopsis... ugh
|Posted By: Eleica Jun 25, 2002 - 09:09 am || |
Okay here's my two cents.
First, I can say right away, good luck in getting a novel that long published your first time around. As we've been discussing in some of the other forums, even 90,000 is a lot for a first-time writer. And do you have any other way to be more certain about your word count, such as the Word Count function in Microsoft Word?
As for the synopsis itself. For one, don't hold back the ending. For another, I've heard one rule about it: if you can't possibly summarize what you've written in under 500 words, you either have a novel that's way too convoluted, or you need to work on your summarizing skills. (The glib words of Crawford Killian; sorry if it sounds condescending.)
I really recommend The Writers's Market and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published. The Writer's Market has complete, in-depth clinics on synopsis writing, while the other book gives you a step-by-step "how to".
|Posted By: Seidon Jun 25, 2002 - 12:25 pm || |
Don't worry about sounding glib and I understand that both writing and publishing is a commercial business. It is an industry that focuses on the mass media marketplace and works on a dollars and cents margin...
Which of course is why an unknown author who has a longer than normal book will find it much harder to get published than that tight 80-100k word book his fellow writer is trying to get published.
But one thing that does hearten me with writing is I truly believe, "if it is good enough, they will come". Thus why I've spent the time and energy writing four books without attempting to flog them all on poor agents and editors who are forced to read bad manuscripts on a nearly daily basis.
But, when I set out writing this book it was my goal to write a single novel epic fantasy. A book that unlike so many other fantasy books does not require a series to tell the entire story, yet hopefully will be every bit as moving and involving as such series as "A Song of Ice and Fire", "Sword of Truth", "Wheel of Time", "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn". Of course I also realize that even out of all these authors, only Terry Goodkind was a first time author when he got the rather lengthy epic, "A Wizard's First Rule" published.
That shows me that while being possible, is definitely a difficult task...
As for summarizing my book in 500 words or less. That I can do and have done, but from what I understand a synopsis is more than a summarization of your story, rather it is a narrative, detailed, yet dramatically told full explanation of your plot... in 5 pages or less. I've read how toos, and documentation about writing one, but again usually they are applied to the more mainstream fiction genres (mystery, romance, suspense). Which is why I was hoping that somebody who frequents these boards might have practical experience in writing fantasy synopses and could tell me whether the same rules apply or whether their are some allowances for the flexibility and range of fantasy work.
The more I work on my synopsis though the more I doubt it. I'm guessing that the same rules apply to me as everybody else.
|Posted By: Sindatur Jun 25, 2002 - 01:45 pm || |
You may want to try the Website Pan Historia.
After creating a character and logging in, you will get a people panel. On that people panel you will see some people titled as "Publisher" and "Editor". They really are. Send one or two of them some grams and maybe they can give you some advice.
*Master and Bmat, if this post is out of line, feel free to delete it.
check out this site.
I found it while searching for the same thing you are, the perfect synopsis guidline. Though not perfect, it is by far the best I've found. I hope it helps you, God bless
|Posted By: els Mar 25, 2004 - 01:40 pm || |
Check out Donald Maass's books: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Career Novelist. I think both have sections on writing a synopsis.
I'm struggling through a huge rewrite right now- maybe the 6th on this novel- and then comes the dreaded synopsis. That's why I'm.. uh... dilly dallying here.
|Posted By: Aldan Mar 25, 2004 - 02:37 pm || |
Hey, do you know if anyone's published a Dilly Dallying for Dummies book? I know that I'd buy it, when I got around to it.
|Posted By: els Mar 25, 2004 - 04:53 pm || |
You know, maybe I should query the Dummies publisher about that. I mean, how appropriate would that be? A fantasy writer teaching people to daydream... Of course, I'm too busy dilly dallying to actually write. It's a full time job.
I think, not sure on this, that for every 100 pages your synopsis should be 1 page long. So if you have a 500 page book, you can get away with a 5 page synopsis. They say keep the synopsis between 1-2 pages if you can but if you must you can expand to 5-10 but no more. Each publisher has his own set of rules for the length of your synopsis and you should check out all the publishers and their requirements prior to submitting anything. It looks unprofesssional to do anything less or more. I'm going through that phase myself right now with my book. Which now that it's finished, it is 140,000 words. I don't see how that's too long for a first time writer as others have suggested here. In fact, I'm working on the second book now. Everyone's opinion on the synopsis will vary, but here are some more threads to help you out. I found them quite informative.
Now, Dummies.com is a good site that is basic in what it says. Better than going out and buying the book too I might add.
This site offers strictly sci-fi assistance and has many articles on varied subjects:
I hope these help you as much as they helped me.