Anyway, last Friday night I sat down to a one on one meeting with the editor guest of honour, Lee Harris of Tor.com. Mr. Harris is a lovely man, who was not sure really what the meeting sessions were about. Since I was in the same boat, we chatted for a little bit about stuff, and I asked him if he could come up with a better title for my WIP than the one I have. He could not, and noted that the title was not terrible. It wasn't good, but it wasn't terrible. That made me feel a little better (he also said the same thing of the series title, and I was happier with that one. Oh well).
Then I asked if he wouldn't mind reading my synopsis and helping me to sharpen it up because I was struggling so hard. He took the paper I brought and offered me some seriously good advice.
First, he noted that the synopsis wasn't awful. It was, as I already knew, a little blurby. He also noted that the first time a character is mentioned in a synopsis, they should be in all caps. I thought that was only a thing for screenwriting. Apparently not so. It's not something that I've heard mentioned in my research on how to write a synopsis, either. In any case that's the first and easiest thing to change about my synopsis.
He then offered some exercises that he asks of writers he is interested in. The first is to expand the synopsis to a full page. Then pair that down to a single paragraph. If that is successful, then bring it down again to a single sentence. This sentence is not an elevator pitch. It's a synopsis. It should give some idea of the tone of the story and the flavour of writing in the novel.
As a general rule, if summing up the book in a single sentence (long sentences are permitted), then the idea is too complicated. As a general rule. Which means there are exceptions. Still, it's a good rule to go by.
There wasn't much time for talking about anything else, as we had only about eight minutes. Still, it was one of the most instructional eight minutes I think I've had, and I'm really glad I had that meeting. I'm also über thankful that it wasn't a pitch session because I'd have been a terrible wreck of nerves and failing attempts at expectations management. I could be more myself and not worry overmuch about trying to impress someone with my writing.
I'd like to thank Can*Con for providing the space and the time for such a meeting, and also Mr. Harris, who gave up his Friday evening to answer my questions and offer excellent advice on synopses. The exercises suggested are also super helpful, and I have been working through them for Outworlder.
This is what I've managed so far for the single sentence synopsis.
Daniel Greyson must find his way home after a motorcycle accident lands him in the care of the resistance fighters of the war-torn Otherworld – Avalon – so that he can warn Earth that Avalon’s enemies are coming for them.
To that end, I'm off to work on it.