The second night of my synopsis/query class was last night and our homework was to bring a synopsis. In preparation for my critique session at the conference in September, I tried to make mine a page. I didn’t quite make it, but I was only over by 4 lines and I figured that was fine for a first draft. As per last week’s discussion, I tried to avoid the outline format and focus instead on the character arc and major events.
It got a pretty good response, especially considering that I’d written it the night before and then hadn’t looked at it again or had anyone else read it. But there were definitely some good criticisms, mostly to do with clarifying the brief mention of my background context and making my protagonist seem stronger. I also need to add in what happens at the end. In the interests of space I left that kind of vague but that was a deliberate omission on my part – not that I intend to leave it out in the final draft. I just ran out of room and figured I’d cut some chaff after the critique and then work the ending in later.
The thing I found the most interesting is listening to what people actually got form the synopsis. For example, I clarified something in discussion and one person said she hadn’t gotten that impression at all. My first impulse was to point to a sentence that pretty much said verbatim what I had just explained. How was she confused when it was right there? However, clearly there was something unclear about how I phrased that sentence or she wouldn’t have been confused, right? So, it was a good reminder that I can get a little in love with long, complex sentences and that can muddle my meaning. I do it when I speak, too, but it’s easier to catch and fix in writing. I just need to be aware of it. Hence, the third-person critique.
Conclusion: I really need to get a critique partner.