I loathe, despise, abhor, abominate the necessity for writing synopses. Right now I am writing this blog, rather than write a synopsis.
But as the final book in a trilogy winds down towards publication date (at least from the writerly involvement point of view), the ugly spectre of Glenda writing a synopsis hovers yet again…
My publisher’s editor has not written me an email saying that there are just one or two small things that need altering (all editors have a penchant for understatement), so I can only assume she is satisfied with The Song of the Shiver Barrens. My agent has hounded the accounts department, and the cheque for the delivery of the MS is already in my bank account and partially spent (bless both agent and HarperCollins Oz for their efficiency.)
Which all means that Song of the Shiver Barrens is well on its way towards its July publication. And with that, The Mirage Makers – a project that has been with me since 1992 – comes to a close.
Ok, so there is still the copy edit to be dealt with, and the proofs to read after that, but this is the period when my agent begins to speak of selling the next trilogy. The one that’s only partially written… “I know you’re very good at these synopses from your previous work,’ she writes. Huh. She must know how much I hate doing ’em and thinks a spot of fulsome flattery will fuel my fingers at the keyboard. Yeah.
I mean, how can you condense the plot of three books – or four in this case, because it’s not a trilogy but a quartet* – into a one or two page synopsis??? How do you impress an editor with the depth of your characterization, the twists and turns of the spectacular ending, the sensawunda of your spendiferous world?
It would be bad enough having to write the synopsis of a novel set in, say, suburban US/UK/Australia. At least you could say something like “Philip Twitterton, a mild-mannered glass-blower from Sydney, has just murdered his ex-model wife with a box of kitty litter, and is now wondering how to remove – in secret – the smelly, bloated body of the 400 pound woman from his apartment…”
Nice hook(s) and loads of information in the first sentence.
But how about this: “The Four Quarters are in trouble. The Droughtmaster is dying and someone has been murdering the young Drouthlords…”
So what? you may ask. Somehow I have to convey how and why that is important to both the land and my young hero, when it is going to take me half a big fat fantasy to explain…
Besides, how the hell do I know what’s going to happen in book four when I haven’t finished book one yet? I sort of know, but the details are hidden in the mists of the future, and will only be revealed with I immerse myself in the world of the Four Quarters and talk to all those characters now rattling around in my brain planning their betrayals and triumphs.
Oh, and if you want to help, go out and buy The Mirage Makers. That way, it won’t matter how lousy my synopsis is; my sales figures will be so spectacular, the publishing houses will be clammering at my agent’s inbox to buy the rights to The Random Rain Quartet.
See? You too can make a difference…
I hate writing synopses.
*The Random Rain Quartet consisting of:
Book One: Drouthlord
Book Two: Droughtmaster
Book Three: Waterpainter
Book Four: Rainmaker