It had got to that time again. I’ve finished my third draft of ‘The Bluebell Informant’ and everything is beginning to fall in to place. I’ve had three clear goes at ironing out the wrinkles in the story and developing my characters and now I’m beginning to get down to the nitty gritty of the editing process.
Chapters have to be read and re-read, edited a bit and re-read again. Crossed out, furiously re-written, lobbed in the bin, salvaged, scribbled on and re-read again.
But, for the most part, my story won’t change too drastically from now on. Okay, there might be the odd change here or there. A piece of information might be revealed a little earlier or later, a character might reveal their back story at a slightly different point – but the story itself is pretty much how it is going to play out.
And it is at this point that I have chosen to take my first crack at writing a synopsis.
This is the part that I hear other writers talk about with impending doom and dread.
‘How could I possibly condense my masterpiece into a page or so of information?’
‘How can I explain the complex nuances of my character’s interactions in such a short space?’
‘How the hell am I going to do this?’
Even I think these things when I come to sitting down to writing my synopsis. It used to be one of the last things I’d ever do, and I would dread it from the moment I wrote the first word of the first sentence of my story. After I finished the final polish of my story, I would then sit down and try to work out how I was going to sell it someone. It’s only now, having had a huge amount of practice of writing and rewriting that I’ve come to realise that this was the wrong way to think about it.
The synopsis is the selling point of a story, the first thing an agent or a publisher might see (if you chose to go down that route). It’s the pitch – the plug. It needs as much attention as the story itself.
So what I have started doing is writing my synopses in conjunction with my drafts.
I have just finished my third draft, so now I will write a synopsis.
When I finish my fourth draft, I will go back and write another version.
Same with the fifth and the sixth.
As I’m anticipating getting to at least the sixth draft of the story before I’m happy with it, this would mean that the number of drafts of my synopsis will be somewhere in the region of three before I even go back and make it tidier and more succinct.
And that, I feel, can only be a good thing.
So, what became of my first draft of the synopsis?
Currently it is two and a half pages long, rambles a bit and looks like a mess. And I’m quite happy with that.
After all, the first draft of ‘The Bluebell Informant’ wasn’t much different…