Synopsis: Torture device invented by editors/agents or useful tool?

Drafting a synopsis for my novella almost convinced me to quit writing altogether. I mean, why torture myself? But I pushed through the pain and strung together five double-spaced pages (way too wordy!), along with a query letter, and sent the bundle to my always-patient friend Lori Sawicki.

Apparently, she too had been struggling with a synopsis and had come across the following  advice from author Beth Anderson: “So–what does go into a synopsis? 1. What happens at the beginning. 2. What your lead characters want. What problem they’re each trying to solve. 3. What escalating roadblocks, both external and internal, you’ve set up to prevent them from getting what they want. 4. What happens at the end. How they solve their problems.” Read the entire posting here.

Then I stumbled upon Susan Dennard‘s excellent synopsis worksheet, and between Lori (did I mention her patience?), Beth, and Susan, I whittled my synopsis down to one page.

It helped… In fact, the novella now has a book contract but more on that in a later posting…

Not to say the synopsis got me there but it did force me to recognize an important plot hole, which I patched before sending the book off to publishers. Writing a synopsis is still a torturous process, yet I can see myself drafting one–probably making me a bit of a masochist–as a planning tool for my next novel.

Identity Novels: Books for kids who don’t fit in the box

An agent once described The Power of Two by Lori Sawicki as “‘a quiet, literary book that was beautifully written.” And I couldn’t agree more but I would add that the thoughtful tale will stay with you long after the last word is read.

So I was absolutely thrilled to discover that Lori has developed her own publishing house–Identity Novels–and started her new enterprise with The Power of Two, a book that I feel privileged to have read in one of its pre-publication drafts.

I first became friends with Lori while networking at a SCBWI-MI Conference in Ann Arbor. From there, we became critique partners, reading each others’ work and providing feedback.  And with that insight, I can guarantee readers will gobble up The Power of Two and wait impatiently for Lori to publish more of her novels.

So check out her website and spread the word: there’s a new publisher “for kids who don’t fit in the box.”