Revision hell actually hasn’t been too hellish. Once a few things clicked, I was rolling.
When you think you can breathe a sigh of relief, you have to write a query letter. And a synopsis. Cue young Jamie Lee Curtis scream here.
For my non-writer fringelings, a query letter is an introductory letter to an agent or editor, giving a very brief snapshot of your book in the hopes of enticing them to request the full manuscript. A synopsis is kind of like a book report on the story, hitting the major conflicts, plot twists, and how the story ends. Some describe it as the way you’d tell the story to a friend. Some agents want a synopsis along with the query letter and sample pages, some want it if they request material, some don’t ask for it at all. But you have to be prepared before you begin the querying process, so you’re ready to send everything requested (hopefully, see? I’m being positive) and not find yourself sitting in a puddle of tears trying to get it together and sent off before the agent decides your story really didn’t sound that interesting after all. Or it’s still interesting, but you took too long, and they just signed two other new authors, their list is full. Or, or, or.
I have written and rewritten my query letter. Actually, I’ve rewritten it about twelve times, and I think it might work now. Time to work on the synopsis. Shoot me, please. It sounds so easy. Tell the damned story. Mmm hmm. But trying to distill it into 500-1000 words, keep it clear, concise, interesting, not include every last detail but not omit anything that is important to the flow? Here’s the thing, when you write a novel, you’re trying to make sure that every scene, every character, every detail raises the stakes, adds to the story. Now figure out which of those all important and all contributing scenes and characters don’t actually need to be in the synopsis.
Just because you can write poetry doesn’t mean you can write an epic fantasy novel. You might be able to write historical romance but not be able to pull off a picture book. I occasionally have fun writing limericks. Great for giggles, but with an editorial–or a serious reader’s–eye, they suck. I would never try to get them published, or showcase them to illustrate my writing. Query and synopsis writing involve a different skill set than writing a manuscript. Ready for the conflict? Mrs Fringe has a completed manuscript and she’d like to find a literary agent. To do so, she has to send competent, engaging query letters and possibly synopsis (synopsi?) to agents who seem like they might be a good fit for Mrs Fringe and said manuscript.
Today’s attempt at a synopsis left me ready to send a form rejection to myself, and scrawl a big fat YAWN across the top in red pen.