Sunday, October 25, 2009

Story and Synopsis - Are they telling the same story

I'm getting ready to head off to my last session here at SCWW and figured I would throw in one last post before I pack the computer up.

Over the last 2 days, I have realized that many writers have a huge disconnect between their synopsis and their stories. In other words, what they have written and what they think they have written and what they tell me they have written simply don't match. In other words, when I talk to a writer about the story they have written, they will tell me one thing. When I read the words, it is far from what they intended.

So, why does this happen?

I can see this occurring for a couple of reasons. The biggest is a lack of thinking on the part of the writer. In other words, as he or she sits in front of the computer, the writer simply writes. There is no cognitive process going on to think of why the characters are doing what they do, or for that matter, how the scene that was typed on Monday fits with the scene they type on Thursday. In the end, the story becomes a mish-mash of small disconnected scenes. When it comes to the time of writing the synopsis or pitching, the scene or scenes they liked the most are the ones that take the forefront and become the "thesis" of the story. This is, of course, forgetting the other 80% of the book that focuses on something else.

The second reason stems from the writers simply not knowing what the story is about. To these writers, the story is simply plot. I see this one more often than not. Even as I worked with authors in critiques and in smaller sessions, when we would talk theme of the story, the only solutions they could come up with were plot twits. "So I can take that scene out and it becomes better." Remember the theme is the WHY we write it.

I have to say, as an agent, it is VERY frustrating when I read or hear a pitch, and think this is the next greatest thing. I get excited. I want to see more... and then the story shows up revealing something that is far from what I expected. Not that the writing is bad, but the story is not what they pitched.

Your homework... figure out what your story is really about and make it clear in that synopsis and pitch.


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