Summarize This!


I was having major problems with writing my plot synopsis. Major–Problems. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the structure. And it seemed the more sources I turned to for help, the more confounded I became. Every book, every article, every writer told me a different approach, a different layout. They all told me what to do and what not to do, and every single one of their rules conflicted with someone else’s. Apparently, there’s no blueprint for one of these things, no set way of doing it. And, to make matters worse, agents and publishers appear to have their own undisclosed preferences for how it’s done.

Every time I valiantly sat down to hammer it out, a clamor of voices arose in my head, telling me, “Don’t forget this!” or “You don’t need that in there!” All the while another, much more irritating voice chimed in, bemoaning the lack of interesting content. This voice is my constant companion when I write, the one that absolutely refuses to let me get out a rough draft before starting in on me, the one that gets its rocks off by making me feel short even next to a grain of sand. Six times I started the summary. Six times I threw it all away. In between disastrous attempts, I ran back to the internet and to my pile of books, wondering what in the world I did wrong this time.

Yesterday, in utter desperation, I cast aside all of that hard-earned, shared knowledge and turned off my brain. Yep. Shut down the whole operation. I turned myself on auto pilot and didn’t let my consciousness come back online until about thirty minutes ago. And, you know what? The rough draft of my outline is done. It seems I work best when I listen to no one — not even myself. Now, before I begin the self-congratulations, I have to admit I haven’t read over it, yet. There is still a small chance that I was speaking in tongues, or channeling some dead housewife who’s afraid her husband is letting her mink stole go to the moths, or that I was engaging in some sort of Jack Torrence-esque tirade. But, barring any of those, I think I just might have enough decent material to make the agents not want to use my pitch package as fuel for their next beach bonfire.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

5 responses to “Summarize This!

  • avery

    Sqt and Charles — Thanks for the support.Spy — Synopses do stink, but they’re not nearly as scary to me now that I’ve managed to plow through one.Jay — That was exactly my problem. But, you get to a point where finding and picking out the unnecessary details is not only crucial, it’s kinda fun — like jabbing at a bruise to see if it still hurts.

  • Jay

    I think it’s infinitely harder to summarize your own work – after you labour over it, of course everything seems dramatically important.

  • spyscribbler

    But you got through it! And you can fix it; you can’t fix a blank page. Awesome! I fear synopses.🙂

  • Charles Gramlich

    You’ve discovered the “tyranny of advice.” I’ve been there a time or two myself. I bet the draft written with your mind detuned from all those voices will be just fine.

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