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lkp
02-22-2009, 08:18 PM
I actually don't mind writing synopses (I know --- go ahead and hate me). But I'm working on one now that is presenting me with special problems.

A synopsis of a story that goes pretty much A to B chronologically is fairly straightforward. But how do you write a synopsis for a novel that has two storylines which take place on different chronological arcs, but which are interwoven? Think Possession or Crow Lake or Katherine Neville's The Eight.

If the novel begins at point in time B, I have one story arc that goes from B to C interwoven with a narrative that takes place from A to B. So far, each chapter contains some of both with the chronologically prior narrative being told as a story. A to B is more than just backstory --- I consider that the heart of the novel, and B to C its frame. But the two stories merge and have an effect on each other. The one thing I know won't work is telling the story from A to B to C.

Any thoughts? How have those of you who've had stories with parallel storylines handled the synopsis?

(Was not sure where to put this. It's not about actually writing the novel. And I have an agent, so it's not about querying)

GirlWithPoisonPen
02-22-2009, 08:25 PM
Does the story of B/C lead to the telling of A/B?

Soccer Mom
02-22-2009, 08:41 PM
I actually don't mind writing synopses (I know --- go ahead and hate me). But I'm working on one now that is presenting me with special problems.

*snipped*

(Was not sure where to put this. It's not about actually writing the novel. And I have an agent, so it's not about querying)


Hmm, I could put this in the Sandbox for workshopping or in BWQ (although this is a bit more than basic). Let me know if you have a preference. I've also seen seen synopsis workshopped in the Query section of SYW. I'll hold off moving it for a day or so.

flyingtart
02-22-2009, 08:43 PM
This sounds similar to my novel. It has two stories, one set in the present and the other in the distant past, but we don't find out until the end that the MC is the same in both. I've had a few attempts at the synopsis, but in the end I decided to tell the present day synopsis first as a series of problems that arise for the MC. I then did a paragraph about the other story (starting "Meanwhile the narrative is intercut with passages showing a parallel story..."). That way I kept the two stories separate until the conclusion - my previous attempts had got the two intertwined and became too confusing.

Does that make sense?

lkp
02-22-2009, 08:52 PM
SM, thanks for your thoughts --- after I posted, I realized that this might be exactly the place for it since writers in many different areas need to write complex synopses.

flyingtart, that is one possibility. And I can see with the level of mystery you might want to keep until you relate the ending, it is a good solution for you. I'll have to think about it for me.

PoisonPen, yes, B-C connects to the telling of A-B. Basically my heroine falls in with w group of women on a journey involving a number of dire pickles. My heroine begins telling what led her up to the point when she met them as a way of passing the time and of reflecting on their current predicaments. The climax of the novel (unwritten but sure to be briliiant) will resolve both A-B and B-C.

GirlWithPoisonPen
02-22-2009, 09:10 PM
PoisonPen, yes, B-C connects to the telling of A-B. Basically my heroine falls in with w group of women on a journey involving a number of dire pickles. My heroine begins telling what led her up to the point when she met them as a way of passing the time and of reflecting on their current predicaments. The climax of the novel (unwritten but sure to be briliiant) will resolve both A-B and B-C.

The description you just gave me looks like it might offer a good structure for the synopsis. Can you build out from it?

jclarkdawe
02-22-2009, 09:21 PM
The question is what are you and your agent hoping to accomplish with the synopsis. In a normal book, the structure of the story and the structure of the book are one and the same. A goes to B which goes to C and so on and so forth. Here is sounds like you have two story arcs although you may also have a story arc that isn't chronological. For the purposes of my answer, it doesn't really make a difference.

If the main purpose of the synopsis is to show how the book is structured or laid out, than the synopsis should follow the book. It will tend to be a rather long synopsis and have a whole lot of awkward transitions. There's not much you can do about it.

Or you can be looking at the structure of the story to see whether you have any plot holes. In this case, you have to put the book into chronological order. Otherwise, you won't see the holes. (You'd basically be repeating the problems in your book.)

If you're looking to accomplish both in one synopsis, the reality is it doesn't happen. (Lots of people think they can do both but they're wrong.) If that's the case, you have to at least put your notes in chronological order at some point. Continuity is a weak point for people, as our minds will happily fill in the blanks.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe