Why is it so utterly impossible and infuriating and time-devouring to write a synopsis for your novel?
Since I’m currently taking a hiatus from Kikimora‘s editing, I thought I should have another go at a decent synopsis. Days later, I emerge, blinking and disoriented. I’ve done it! I’ve written 137 words that I only kind of hate a bit… :-S
This is my umpteenth attempt at Kikimora’s synopsis. There have been three or four major versions – all quite different, yet all equally true to the story. How is that possible?
My first attempt was perhaps a little high on whimsy and low on hook:
Raised in isolation by a brooding magician and his learned cat, Kikimora has almost come of age – and that means she has a destiny to fulfil. For Kikimora is no ordinary girl, but a monster spun from the breath of an ice wyvern and the crocodile tears of a killer, and her purpose is to wreak vengeance on mankind.
But Kikimora’s nature is not harsh or cruel. Sent out into the human world alone, she will need all of her ingenuity and resourcefulness to overcome the destiny laid out for her, and perhaps find her own path to happiness.
It clearly wasn’t good enough, so I sought some advice, courtesy of Mike Wells. With a formula* in hand, I had another go:
I choose to express my feelings on synopsis writing in an abstract manner.
Since her creation, Kikimora has been raised to believe that humans are a blight upon the planet; greedy, stupid and unreasonable. Commissioned to bring about the ruination of a mining community, she wants to prove herself a good and dutiful monster.
But Kikimora finds that cruelty and spite do not come easily to her. Nor had she anticipated falling in love with the very worst of the men, the gunpowder master.
When a rockfall traps the miners deep underground and the caverns slowly fill with water, will Kikimora betray her master and upbringing to rescue the miners – even if it means sacrificing everything?
Meh. I get the need for a hook, but I don’t want to sound like a (bad) Hollywood thriller. Forgetting all about the formula, I took a fresh approach:
Korsakov forest is changing. Where carefree Rusalka once swam in golden pools, now sulphurous run-off from the mines has clouded and poisoned the waters. Where impenetrable forest stretched across the horizon, now ancient trees are felled and burnt.
But the inhabitants of the forest have a plan; a simple, ruthless plan. From the breath of an ice wyvern and the crocodile tears of a killer is spun a strange creature: half child, half nightmare. Schooled in cruelty, Kikimora’s sole purpose is to terrorise the encroaching humans and drive them away.
But Kikimora finds herself strangely unprepared for the realities of the human world. As she learns more about humans, she begins to question her upbringing and her purpose.
When disaster strikes the humans, Kikimora must decide where her loyalties lie: with the guardians of the forest or the humans she has sworn to destroy.
There are some elements of that which I like, but it still sounds stilted and clunky (they all do, I know!) Finally I’ve attempted a mash up with the above and the formula version, and I think it’s the best I’ve got so far. But I’ll probably have rewritten it by tomorrow…
When mining pollution threatens to destroy their home, the spirits of Korsakov forest enlist the help of the world’s greatest sorcerer to create a monster. Spun from the breath of an ice wyvern and the crocodile tears of a killer, Kikimora’s purpose is to terrorise the miners and drive them from the forest for ever.
But Kikimora discovers there is much her guardians neglected to teach her about humans: important things like music and friendship and love. Drawn into their lives, their hopes and fears, Kikimora’s heart rebels against her duty, and she begins to question her purpose.
When disaster strikes the miners, she must decide where her loyalties lie: with the guardians of the forest or with the humans she has sworn to destroy.
But defying her destiny could mean sacrificing everything – even her life.
Thoughts, anyone? I feel like I’ve bludgeoned the story to death, and there is no charm or life left in it. But that’s probably (hopefully) over-familiarity breeding contempt. Does anything about this synopsis intrigue or invite, or should I go back to the drawing board again? (or throw my computer out of the window?)
Who else has trouble writing synopses? Anyone got any great tips or advice?
* visit the site for the full version, but the essence is:
Hero + situation should = goal; unless villian causes it to = disaster.