12.05.2005

First Person Synopsis..Miss Snark isn't convinced

I always write my synopses in first person (my mss are first person present and I write chick-lit). I can't imagine writing in third. I hate third and can't write in third to save myself. Why write your synopsis in third when your ms is in first? I don't understand it. If the synopsis is better in first, gets your/your character's voice across and lets the ed. know exactly what's going on in the story, that's all that's important. Then again, I also write in Arial (naughty!).


Because dear one, your synopsis is not your novel, and you are not your novel. At some point you must recognize this. Sooner would be better than later. A synopis in the first person begs the question of how you remove yourself from the narrative at all. (On the other hand, let's all remember Miss Snark speaks of herself in the third person often, changes POV between paragraphs AND has a novel writing dawg---who is she to be talking weird, right?)

I'm not saying it can't work; strange things work all the time. Are you sending it to the crapometer? I'd love to see how you do this.

And Arial isn't that bad. Copperplate..bodoni bold...those are auto-rejects.

18 comments:

jessicacrockett said...

But Comic Sans, that's okay, right?

;)

snarky little vegemite said...

Actually, I disagree with this (aaaggghhh! Get off my leg, Killer Yapp!). Chick-lit is all about voice and when I sell my work (and, thank god, these days I do -- two YA books out with Random House next year, one adult with Kensington and one adult with Red Dress Ink), I'm selling me. My personality. My voice. I'd be interested to hear if other novelists (especially chick-lit) feel this way. Now, back to my YA where the pregnant-with-twins Hollywood actress stepmother is stuffing her face with Fluffernutters at Peanut Butter & Co..

M. G. Tarquini said...

Miss Snark? What is the Crapometer? Do you mind reexplaining to those of us who came late to the party?

Most humbly, I ask this.

Miss Snark said...

MG if you read down the archives you'll see a very recent post answering that question.

Anonymous said...

Alli J said: Chick-lit is all about voice and when I sell my work [...], I'm selling me. My personality. My voice.

Unless you want every single book you write to sound like every other book you write, it would be a better idea to have each of them reflect the personality and voice of your protagonist, as she's the one (supposedly) telling the story. If every book is actually you under a protagonist's name...well, are you familiar with the term "Mary Sue"?

You are not your book. Your book is something you made. Confusing the two is Very Bad.

Catja (green_knight) said...

I'm just having the mental image of the agent/editor having to stand up at the meeting to answer the question 'well, this novel that has you so exited, what is it about?' and him beginning to read 'My day began to go downhill when I left my stiletto heel embedded in the CEO's office' in a deep, gruff voice...

Chick LIt Novelist said...

I'm with you, alli, with the possible caveat that it's not my voice that I'm selling but "my voice for that character". Chick lit is all about voice, as Miss Snark said in the "find an agent for chick lit" post above, and as such, that voice needs to be clear and present in the synopsis.

I've written one synopsis in first person and one in third, and they both sold just fine.

Rick said...

To every rule there are exceptions. Alli's synopses must be working for her, since she's selling her books, but by and large, a straightforward synopsis is probably best.

Chick lit may be all about voice, but isn't that what the sample pages show? Synopses, as Miss Snark said when I asked a few days ago, are to make sure the plot holds together. If aliens do show up in Chapter 12, there had better be a good reason - e.g., that fugly dress not only makes the protagonist look fat, it threatens to disrupt the galaxy.

Berry said...

I don't understand why people make a big deal out of the font they write in. So go ahead, write in Arial, or copperplate, or Cursive, or whatever you want. Just submit in Courier, or whatever the recipient specifies in the guidelines. It's not hard; just before you print it out, do "Select All" -> Change font to Courier -> Print

M. G. Tarquini said...

Thanks, Miss Snark. I must've still been eating turkey leftovers when those posts went up.

Brady Westwater said...

Ah, the question of, 'Font'...

I don't know if I or anyone else has addressed this in the past - but I write in 'Arial' and I intend to submit in 'Arial' because that is the way my writing is 'timed'. Different fonts have very different reading rhythms.

Ignoring the question of whether or not I am crazy - a losing argument, I understand - am I also unrealistic to submit in Arial if the guidlines specify another font? Or should I only submit to those who do not appear to be fanatical about one particular font?

Rick said...

Brady, what do you mean by "timed?" Perhaps I can guess; how text appears does affect how you read it. But that shouldn't, and needn't, determine how you submit - as Berry said, it's easy to convert. I write in Times New Roman with 1.5-line spacing, because it looks good on the screen, but converted my submission copy to double spaced. (My agent said TNR was okay, so I didn't change that.)

I certainly can't see why you wouldn't submit somewhere because of their font preference. I'd submit in cuneiform if it would help sell my book! (Do they make a cunieform font?)

E. Dashwood said...

Arial? Sans serif?! What's next? Futura? But Stanley Morrison must be rolling in the grave.

I wrote my narrative nonfiction proposal, which includes a 50 page outline, all in first person, and Times New Roman, 12 pt. I viewed it as a seamless examplar of my always deathless prose. Eventually, I found an agent.

Brady Westwater said...

By 'timed', I mean that different fonts read at different 'speeds' and my writing style works well with that particular font. Also my language and puncuation are written to take advantage of that pace.

To me writing has always been a musical art - it's all about timing. The fact that comedy is a major part of what I write only accenuates that.

snarky little vegemite said...

Believe me, no editor has ever picked up a ms, started reading it faster and faster and faster, flipping those pages because she just couldn't stop and then, finally pausing for breath at the end, thrown it away because it wasn't in bloody Courier.

Anonymous said...

brady westwater: Do you expect that your manuscript will be typeset and printed in that font? Get ready for disappointment. Writers don't get to choose their fonts. Fonts are chosen for readability, in all stages of the process. When you have a stack of manuscripts six feet thick on your desk, and more on the floor and the spare chairs and every horizontal surface, you want the text in something easily readable. Ignoring an agent's or publisher's stated requests for a standard submission font will not make them love you.

I recently came across one commercially printed book typeset in a sans-serif font. It was one of the first of the new Luna imprint. It was unreadable. I returned it to the store. I notice Luna has since used a serif font.

Rick said...

Also, not many books are printed on 8 1/2" x 11" paper! What our stuff will look like on the printed page is influenced not only by font but by page layout, which may be different for hardback and pb editions. You can't replicate it in MS Word. Once for the hell of it I tried to format a copy of my ms to imitate book pages, and it didn't look convincing at all.

Publishers should - and usually do - stay away from clever fonts. I could never get through more than a couple of pages of the library copy of Robin McKinley's The Outlaws of Sherwood, because the whole thing was in italics, completely distracting.

McKinley already had a successful career, but it's horrible to think that a new writer's first book might tank, trashing their prospects, because some designer tried to get clever with the font or layout.

Harry Connolly said...

... different fonts read at different 'speeds'...

Dude, different readers read at different speeds. The variation between readers will be much greater than any variation you can create by choosing different fonts. In fact, readers process fonts faster or slower depending on what they're used to seeing.

Frankly, I love Courier, Courier New and Dark Courier. I use them because they were recommended, (scroll down to "Manuscript Preparation" and I learned to love them because that's what I use all the time. Those fonts became very readable--invisible, in fact--and I prefer them now.