Stuck Writing A Synopsis

I had been stuck writing a synopsis for three months. THREE MONTHS. It’d taken me as long to write my synopsis for my first book as it took me to write the first half of my second book.

I spoke to my writer neighbour about writing a book synopsis when I first started to tackle it. My neighbour has written several books and lives in my lane. We often meet on the beach while walking our dogs or watching our kids surf. (I had to get that in there. My kids have only had two surfing lessons so far but as a London Mum my heart has a little party every time I say, ‘watching my kids surf!’)

Any way to get back to the point, when I told her that I was writing a synopsis for my first book, she said,

“Ohhhhhh. You’re writing your synopsis. All you have to do is list everything in your book within 800 words, whilst keeping it exciting and sounding like your own voice.”

I nodded enthusiastically and looked out at the ocean. I love talking to writers, especially ones that are much further down the track than me. I have a tendency towards enthusiasm. It’s my default. I get really excited when I’m learning new things. But as I looked back from the ocean to her face I noticed a look of sympathy, and then she said,

“It’s actually the worst kind of hell!”

Three months later and still working on my f**king synopsis I had to say that I agreed.

It had got to the point where I had put all other writing on hold because I just knew I had to finish the sodding synopsis. Then I could start on the query blurb and cover letter … and then I could start sending it out to agencies.

It’s not that I’ve been staring out the window mournfully from my writing desk this whole time – I do actually have a job that I do from my laptop, so I was kind of busy with that too. But normally I would complete my ‘day job’ and then start on the fun of writing. However for the previous three months I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern. Weirdly, for the last three months I’ve also been struggling with a very swollen, very painful knee.

Getting Unstuck!

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to take the buffalo by the horns (we’re in Vietnam!) and dedicate some time to ‘fixing’ my body. I started seeing Flavia, a physiotherapist here in Hoi An. Some people have a vibration that makes me happy and she is one of them. I saw her almost everyday for a couple of weeks and gradually the swelling on my knee came down. It was still painful, but heading in the right direction. She then told me about Victoria Nhan, a reiki practitioner here in Hoi An.

I’ve alway loved reiki, but this was something else and at the end of the session I felt really emotional. We chatted about all the stuff that had come up for me. One of the things was that I was feeling stuck writing a synopsis and I had been feeling that way for three months. I was desperately missing the joy of writing. Victoria pointed out that before the session I had also said I’d been feeling ‘stuck’ with my knee for the last three months. That got me to thinking about why I was stuck with the synopsis.

stuck writing a synopsis

The synopsis had come at the end of a long period of beta reader rounds and feedback.

I had massively loved and appreciated all the feedback I’d had from my beta readers and it had given me a lot of courage. Nevertheless there was something about letting readers in to my process of writing that had changed my dynamic with my book. It had become something else, my relationship with it was no longer exclusive!!! And now supporters were asking,

“Have you got an agent yet?”

I kept explaining that there was more to complete in the process in order to find an agent, but each time I did I started to feel like I was making excuses! I started to feel overwhelmed. I stopped feeling the joy of writing and started feeling the pressure.

After the reiki session I was tired but clear. The next morning the swelling in my knee disappeared completely and I sat down at my desk to write. I sat down with no expectations, no pressure, just delight at being back with my characters and my story.

I realised I had been trying to write a list of all the parts of my book in an analytical way. The thing is, my whole book is written in my character Georgie’s voice. Georgie had inhabited my writing for over two years. It came to me that the easiest way to write the synopsis would be to write as Georgie. And then it just flowed!

I spent a few days crafting my synopsis, honing it, adding and cutting and then I edited it into third person, present tense. (Which according to all the Writing You Tubers and also Margaret Attwood (!) is the way to do it.)

I’ve now emailed the synopsis to my editor. We will go through it one last time and after her feedback it will be done. It probably won’t be perfect, but it will be done! From there I’ll write the book blurb and cover letter in Georgie’s voice and then edit those too. Wish me luck!

Janie xxx

P.S. Do you have any tricks for writing a synopsis? If you do please add them in the comments below xoxoxo

If you are stuck writing a synopsis check out these You Tubers.

Alexa Donne

Bookends Literary Agency

Jericho Writers

Also have a read through Margaret Atwood’s advice on How To Write A Synopsis

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