Writing Wrongs

September 29, 2006

For the past month, Iíve been judging a few contests, which might explain the sporadic blogging here. So, Iíve been reading lots of partial manuscripts--the first fifty pages plus the synopsis.

Iím wondering if I missed the memo on this, or if thereís a new article floating around on how to write a synopsis, but Iíve sensed a trend. The synopsis is humming along at a good clip, we get rising action, excitement (keep in mind, Iíve been reading a lot of romantic suspense entries), then hit something like this:

Joe and Jane solve the mystery behind the scary situation. Back story of how and why bad guys did what they did brings synopsis to a screeching halt for a paragraph or two. With the bad guys behind bars, Joe and Jane are free to pursue their happily-every-after. The end.

Speaking purely as a reader: Stop. This.

Speaking purely as a writer: Stop. This.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to write a synopsis. I suspect in some cases, writers have only written the partial and are submitting it to a contest to see if itís worth continuing. A notion that Iím completely at odds with. I mean, why let someone else--and a stranger at that--decide what your story is worth? But thatís a rant for another day.

But this method tells me nothing. I donít see how the characters use their talents to solve the mystery. I donít see the crisis, the dark moment, the climax. In more than one synopsis, these crucial elements are missing. The thing is, itís this part of the story where the characters are tested, where they grow and change. This is the edge-of-your-seat best part of the story, the part weíve all been waiting for. This is where they earn that happily-ever-after.

Itís like reaching the midpoint of a story, then flipping through the pages to the last chapter. You wouldnít read a book that way.

Donít write a synopsis that way.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 6:32 a.m.