I read both before I began work on the synopsis for A Cornish House. For me the thought of condensing 100,000 into one page is a nightmare. I actually find the one sentence thing easier so that is usually where I begin.
Back when I was struggling with my first synopsis, a wise soul told me to write it as if I was explaining it to a friend. This I did and the story was condensed - it was a mess of ten pages but it was better than a blank page. Since that first one, I now find my first pass is about four pages and here is where the work begins - the cutting.
First cut - the things I mentioned that aren't central to the book- I lose about two pages.
Second - am I saying things concisely or am I rabbiting on? -another half page gone
Third - down to the nitty gritty - word choice, adverbs, names.....
Maddie uses a strong antibiotic to tackle dysentery. The diarrhoea disappears but the nausea remains. Maddie checks her diary and realizes that she must be pregnant.
Maddie falls ill. Other symptoms disappear but the nausea remains. Maddie is pregnant.
So having already brought the synopsis of ACH down to a page ages ago, what value have the past few days' agony brought? Well, I hope a stronger synopsis, but also a closer look at the story. When I had disciplined myself and whittled it down to just the main action I noticed that Maddie was accepting a lot of things = things were happing to her and she was reacting but not acting - so did I have a limp heroine or a limp synopsis???? This was a headache inducing question. I know what I wanted the answer to be but what was the truth....still checking this.
I also had to accept that I couldn't tell the story chronologically and have it be an effective synopsis. This really bothered me, but I had to get past the keeping the secrets of the book until they were revealed in the plot order. Once over that hurdle it made things a lot easier.
The final stage is to make sure that the document still makes sense as it stands. When I am so close to something it is very easy to think - yes, that works when it doesn't. I know this book inside out well at least I had better, but who ever reads the synopsis doesn't have that luxury. So I have to step back and read it without knowledge (not easy) and ask the questions:
1. have I told enough?
2. have I told too much?
3. does it make any sense?
4. does it actually tell the story that is written? (very important)
So today I am doing yet another pass and I don't think I am quite there but I still have time - thank God.