Saturday, May 06, 2006

Q & A 6 Synopsis importance.

I have a question about the request for a partial and synopsis. Let's be optimistic and say that the partial is stellar, how much weight does the synopsis have when an editor is evaluating a project's "yes" or "no" factor?

Let's be pessimistic and say the partial is less than stellar. It's not inconceivable (though nearly so) that the synopsis outlines a plot so unique and groundbreaking that the editor would consider doing some actual editing for a change, instead of his usual activity: shooting balled up manuscript pages at the wastebasket.

But assuming a stellar partial, why does an editor want a synopsis? True, it's another example of your ability (or inability) to organize and convey information smoothly. But mainly, she doesn't want to read a 300 page romance novel, only to discover that in the final chapter, Allison leaves Michael because he chews his ice. She doesn't want to read your Star Trek novel and discover that you've killed off Kirk and Spock at the end, thus also killing off the one science fiction series that actually makes money. She doesn't want to wallow through your literary fiction masterpiece, only to find that one of the characters is not only still alive at the end, but also mildly content. In short, if your book is 500 pages, and your synopsis is three, your editor is trying to avoid reading 497 pages of your work. As far as Evil Editor is concerned, this gives the synopsis paramount importance.


Dayna_Hart said...

EE, I at first thought that your comments about editors trying to avoid actually reading manuscripts was an exaggerated, tongue in cheek kind of joke. After reading your blog, I'm beginning to realize that you're not kidding. At least, not entirely. Quite honestly, that makes this the most terrifying thing I've read recently. (And that includes some of the posted query letters!)
What hope is there, then? That we catch an editor in some post-connubial state of bliss (or suffering from such an acute hangover) that they send the wrong form-letter back? Please, tell me there's something in this to give us a little ray of hope!

Evil Editor said...

Calm down. Evil Editor has been known to exaggerate occasionally. And not all editors are evil. Evil Editor may, in fact, be the evilest.

Anonymous said...

Read this. Sweeping Back The Slushpile.

Dayna_Hart said...

Ha! We've already established you're the Not-So-Evil-Editor. (Which actually means that any editor less evil than you is of the WarmFuzzy variety. Hrm. If I'd remembered that earlier, I would have saved myself a rant!)
While I admit to a little exaggeration of my own in my original post, I think the desire to throw in the towel occurs to most writers on average at least once a week. Granted, I wouldn't mind at all if every other writer did just that. It sure would make my life easier.
But sometimes I think we spend so much time reminding ourselves why we won't make it, and why it's ok if we don't, that we forget that it is, in fact, possible.
With that in mind, I guess you might as well keep throwing your brand of realism at us, and I'll keep digging my heels in, determined to risk the lottery-odds. *shrug* What else have I got to do! :)

giggles said...

Elaborating on what Dayna said ~ If anyone gives themselves excuses in any industry why it is okay not to succeed, they'll NEVER make it. In writing, acting, singing that is DEFINITE!

As for the synopsis, EE, is right. Your best foot always needs to be put forward. If you're reading your synopsis hemming and hawing, knowing something is not quite right but THINKING your first three chapters are good enough to carry you -- WRONG! Both need to be smoother than icing on store bought cake.

Now, does EE critique synopsis's as well as queries? Because...


Patrice Michelle said...

An editor that would be willing to edit based on a great synopsis! It's interesting to hear the flip side of that question.