Take this novel and…

…rewrite it in 600 words.

No, I’m not kidding. That is, apparently, more or less how you do a synopsis.

Penguin doesn’t want to see the whole manuscript; all they want is a pitch letter and synopsis. “All” – ha! I’ve written one synopsis already, and it sucked, hugely. Made the book seem boring. I have confirmation on this from Angie, who looked it over for me at the 640-word stage.

“This doesn’t need forty words cut from it,” she told me. She was far too tactful to say what it did need, which was a flamethrower.

The good news is that my boring synopsis is the first step in writing a good one. At least now I have a blow-by-blow of what happens in the novel and I can use that as I would an outline. A friend on Zoetrope referred me to Marg Gilks’ excellent article on how to write a synopsis, and another friend told me that her synopsis looked like flash fiction when it was done.

Hallelujah! I can write flash fiction! I’ve written literally hundreds of pieces of flash fiction in the last three years. I can do this!

It’s not to say I won’t be sweating it, because I will. I have five days to write this synopsis and a pitch letter which will, I hope, knock the socks off some editor at Penguin and make her – or him – want to see my manuscript. My laptop is coming with me today, and if I can keep the dog out of my lap, I can begin work on the good synopsis this morning en route to Sudbury.

I’ll keep you posted.

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