Monday, June 15, 2015

The Synopsis Dread

I finished my new novel, The Masks on Grandmother’s Wall, months ago. I had it edited. The editor suggested I expand some parts. So I did. The novel is now complete, and I am very happy with it. But now comes the icky part.

I have to write a synopsis for the book proposal. I’m okay with writing the promotion plans, my bio, competitive analysis, all that stuff. But for some reason I just detest writing synopses, at least of my own work. So for nearly six months I have been putting this chore off. And The Masks on Grandmother’s Wall is still patiently waiting …

So finally I made myself write a synopsis. But because of my issues around writing synopses, I don’t know whether it’s a good synopsis, or a bad one, or just mediocre. Therefore I am sharing it on this blog, to see if someone will give me their opinion.

So here it is, the synopsis of The Masks on Grandmother’s Wall. What do you think? Would you want to read this book? Please comment. (But be gentle.)

   The Masks on Grandmother’s Wall is a short novel of 29,000 words, including fifteen original animal folktales. It is about the power of storytelling and how it connects, inspires, teaches, and heals us. It is about the elusive nature of truth and the illusion of safety. Finally, it is about the search for identity, and finding a place where you belong.

   Long ago, or maybe only yesterday, cousins Emma and Lucy arrive at their grandmother’s empty house. They have come to pack up Grandma’s studio after her death. Grandma was a storyteller and mask artist, and memories of her stories and masks come flooding back during the afternoon Emma and Lucy spend at her seemingly now-empty house.

   While they take the masks off the wall of the studio and wrap them up, Emma and Lucy tell each other some of the stories that go with the masks. The fifteen stories they choose are told in the classic folk-tale style, companions to animal masks, such as the Beaver who tells “How to Lighten Up,” the Flea who tells “How to Stop an Itch,” the Frog who tells “How to Take a Leap of Faith,” and so on, until they come to the final story, the Spider, who tells “How to Find Your Way Home.”

   Emma and Lucy are young women in their twenties, closer than most cousins and also close to their grandmother, to whom they often told their problems and griefs. These problems are still operating in their lives, but Grandma is no longer there to help them. Emma is a self-described “waffler” who cannot decide on a profession or a man, and dismisses her inborn talents that are obvious to others but not to her. Lucy is a budding archaeologist in love with scientific facts and fearful of anything that could be described as “deep.”

   As they tell the stories and wear the masks, the narrative shifts between Emma and Lucy. Until the last story when Grandma herself, through the mask of Spider, again helps Emma and Lucy discover truths about themselves.

   And so it ends, or maybe it is just beginning. 

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 10 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 40 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit


  1. Great title and concept, Kim. In my humble opinion, the synopsis is well written. I got most excited about the story when I reached the parts about the cousins packing up Grandma's house and Grandma being a mask artist. I would have liked to see those images somehow attached to the initial sentence. The ideas already in the opening paragraph are compelling and can serve well to underline those images.

    Is it possible to put the word count at the top of the page, separate from the copy? I feel so much more pulled in when I see actual story information right out of the gate rather than stats.

    Long story short: it's a strong synopsis, but might be worth toying with the sequence of the writing.

    1. Thank you for the kind words and helpful suggestion -- my original synopsis did have the first paragraph at the end, but I was advised by a book coach to put it first. So now I will think about moving it again.

  2. I'm clueless, and I should pay attention, because an editor requested an unwritten trilogy and wants the full manuscript for book 1 plus a synopsis, and then synopses of the next two books. I'm not a plotter or an outliner, and since shifting to indie publishing, I've lost whatever synopsis "skills" I once had.

  3. The synopsis is not the same as an overview of the book, so what you have starting with the second paragraph is more of a synopsis. It tells us more about the who and the what is happening in the story, which is what an editor is going to want to see. What you've written here is closer to a query, but even for that I would put the first paragraph at the end.

    That said, I do really like the concept for this.

    1. Thanks, Maryann. Cara made the same suggestion above. This was the way I originally wrote it. I think you are right.

  4. I think it is a good start, Kim. What I have found is that you revisit it every couple of weeks and take the sand paper to it. After about 20 or 30 standings you'll have it perfect ... or, at the very least, you'll end up with no finger prints.

  5. It hooked me. I want to read the story. I, too, dislike writing synopses; therefore, I'm not a good person to comment on the effectiveness of yours -- other than what I said above: I want to read it.

    1. I'm glad you want to read it, Linda -- thank you.

  6. When I need to tighten, I highlight the most important sentences, breaking it down to the skeleton, then fleshing as needed. What are the key items the reader needs to know. How do you make those items seductive?

  7. I would love to read this.
    I hate writing synopses too.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...