(drawing courtesy of RSPB)
I have been wondering if I should rethink my submission letters. What about this one?
Dear Sir or Madam
I just know that you are going to love the enclosed novel it is just your thing and you are just the person who is going to “get” the totally new concept of a love story set on the moon between a rock and a sparrow which hitched a lift on Apollo 13. It takes romance to a whole new dimension and is going to be the book that makes your name as the most forward thinking agent on planet earth.
I have taken the liberty of enclosing the whole book (complete at 300,000 words) because I know that you are going to be so hooked and drawn in by the magic of the words that I weave as I create a very unique tale of love lost and found. You won’t be able to put it down, you will be on the phone to me before you have even reached chapter 59 and I will be here waiting for your call. Together we can make marvellous literary music, soar to heights never before reached by a team that will be as fantastically amazing as ours.
I haven’t bothered with a synopsis as I don’t want to spoil the ending for you but as you will see I have a very sparse style of writing, neat and closely edited with carefully constructed sentences that contain only the key essence of that required to get the full meaning of their content across and you will find the book, despite its size, a simple yet meaningful read.
I won’t waste your time with any more of my words as I know that you are just chomping at the bit and dying to get your teeth into “The Rock and the Sparrow on the Moon” subtitle, “The story of a rock and a sparrow who meet on the moon.”
Did anyone spot the deliberate error?
It’s done, it’s gone, I have sent it away. Having edited and edited, trimmed, corrected, re-written and tweaked I finally put Timesmudger to one side. The hidden circle of Dante’s Inferno then revealed itself in the form of the synopsis. Never has a single word put more dread in my heart since the school nurse said “Next!”and I got a very painful BCG injection. Various dreadful attempts littered the kitchen table, a handful of monkeys could have made a better attempt, let alone the infinite number that apparently can write the entire Shakespearian canon. Rescue came in the form of the Crabbit Old Bat (see Miracle Cure post below) and after some serious keyboard bashing and excellent criticism from Sandie I had something I was happy with. (I can only hope that Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown feels the same way.)
The covering letter was a breeze after that, particularly since I don’t have a glowing publication history behind me to list.
Then, finally I hit the submit button. I’ve done it before, but last time I was a naive ingenue. I sent out what can only be described as a literary dog poo. This time I am older, wiser and have taken a shed load of criticism on board. But is it enough?
If you are a writer you might want to look away at the next word. I am giving you fair warning that it may cause paroxysms of choking, hot and cold flushes and a feeling of bottomless dread. Synopsis.
However, this is no longer the chronic and painful condition it once was. There is a cure and I have found it.
I am writing a synopsis. I would rather pick my eyes out with a toothpick, but I suspect that my bloodied face is not going to sell my book so synopsis it must be. My book is not linear which just added to the frisson of terror as I approached the blank page. The page remained blank for a long time as I found other more pressing jobs requiring my attention. The pantry has been gutted, the barn has been cleared, industrial quantities of knitting have been completed and I have over 15lb of marmalade and 7lb of rosehip jelly. I do not have a synopsis.
Well that is not exactly true. So far I have three synopses. One is one sentence long, the second is one paragraph long and the third is two paragraphs long. There is much still to be done but at last I am moving vaguely in the right direction. Any anyway we have enough marmalade. The waver of the magic wand was the Crabbit Old Bat whom I have renamed the Most Wonderful Person in the Entire World Somebody Should Make Her A Dame.
No I am not on commission. Yes you must buy her book on how to write a synopsis. And just to tickle your fancy. Here is my one line synopsis.
Thirteen year old Poppy discovers she can smudge time, but preventing a murder leads to betrayal, revenge and the revelation of a hundred year old secret.
Now off you go. You have work to do. That synopsis is not going to write itself (more’s the pity).