Monday, January 12, 2009

On Synopses

What I'm reading: Persuader, by Lee Child

What I'm working on: synopsis polishing.

Distilling a 350+ page novel into under 4 pages is not my favorite writing endeavor. Cover the Who, What, When, Why & Where. Let your voice show through. Use third person, present tense. Be sure to include major turning points, which in an action-adventure-mystery are plentiful. And then, for a romance, you also have to hit the following points as well:

1. The set-up (external plot situation that will throw hero/heroine
2. The First Meet (first time h/h encounter each other)
3. Attraction but Denial of that Attraction
4. First Kiss (how, why, caused by what?)
5. Reaction to the Kiss
7. The First Love Scene and Emotional Reaction to it.
8. Further Complication of External Plot
9. Black Moment
10. Resolution and Happily Ever After.

I must confess even doing the laundry was more appealing. As was balancing the checkbook. And yes, I played way too many different games of solitaire. And watched football. But I have a second draft that's still within the limits my agent imposed.

For me, synopsis writing sits right up there with plotting. How can I know what the book's really going to be about until I write it? The thought of becoming successful enough to have to sell on synopsis is scary. So is writing to a deadline. However, those are demons I'd like to have the chance to deal with.

So…here's the draft of my first paragraph.

Foster (Fozzie) Mayhew, is the communications and intel expert for Blackthorne, Incorporated, a high-end security firm. Put him in a helicopter with his surveillance instruments, and he can spot the fleas on a squirrel's balls from five hundred feet. When someone needs finding, this cocky, arrogant Aussie is the man you want. He and his team pride themselves in being in and out like the wind—but sometimes the wind changes direction. Like when his boss thinks Fozzie's been on too many covert ops missions and assigns him to find Victoria Hamilton, estranged daughter of a rich client. Armed with an outdated high school yearbook photo, he heads to Florida—to follow the only lead he has.
Comments, anyone?

I hope everyone had a nice weekend and enjoyed meeting Detective Mark Hussey. He'll be back. And tomorrow, my guest, Maria Hudgins, will be talking about Faraway Places With Strange Sounding Names.


Anonymous said...

Sounds good; i apologize but I'm too old for my job and am wiped out after last night.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Elliott. Get some rest!

Ray said...

Maybe I should have skipped reading the synopsis. Now I can't wait to read the book. Can you say compelling? What a tease.


Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Ray -- that's only the first paragraph. I toyed with posting the second, which serves to introduce the heroine. It topped off at a tad over 3 pages, and is in the hands of my agent. I hope her reaction comes close to yours.