A FRIENDLY WARNING
There’s going to be some waffle.
Then there’s going to be some stuff about synopses which is quite interesting.
You may wish to skip to about halfway down.
Or you may not.
I don’t know, I’m not you.
You may have already known that.
Unless you are me.
Which would be weird and possibly a bit awkward come bed time.
Hello! I’m back! Did you miss me? Did you even notice I”d gone?
I didn’t notice I’d gone. I didn’t intend to go anywhere, I just accidentally took the Easter holidays off from all writing of all kinds everywhere. Apparently this is the kind of thing which happens when you have a small child.
Did you have a good Easter? I did. I did things like this:
Okay, so I know technically the Easter holidays finished a week ago, but I accidentally took an extra week off to play with my toys. Essentially I was turning this:
Clearly that didn’t take me an entire week to do, but I was … um … doing stuff. Yes. Stuff. That’s what I was doing.
Anyway, I’m back to the mill now. Or desk. More of a desk, I suppose.
(That’s the end of the waffle, by the way)
The thing I’ve been working on recently is not a thing. It’s lots of things. Specifically, lots of synopses for potential film projects to work on with an actor friend of mine, Jay Sutherland*. Here he is, pissed up and in charge of a firearm:
Jay’s great. You should hire him.
So before Easter I was slowly working my way through a pile of ideas, scribbling down one pagers so we can select one to work on and … there’s no easy way of saying this, they were all shit.
All of them.
Not the ideas, the synopses.
Possibly the ideas too, but that kind of self-abuse isn’t helpful right now.
The first draft of all the synopses were shit because I do the same thing every time: describe bits of plot, action and events instead of describing the character.
It’s one of those really simple, blatantly obvious things which I forget every fucking time. Just answer the three basic questions:
- Who’s it about?
- What do they want?
- What’s stopping them getting it?
Okay, so there’s more to it than that. The first two questions work best when they’re connected by irony and the last one works best when there’s some kind of thematic connection; but in essence, thinking about these three questions makes my synopses far, far better.
I also find it useful to think like a DVD cover – describe the above three questions in relation to the first act, hint at what sorts of things will go on in the second act and that’ll do pig. That’ll do.
Some people think you should include the ending in a synopsis. I’m not really one of them. Except when I am. Generally I think it helps to pique a producer’s interest if you don’t include the ending – make them want to question you about it.
Other people think you need to include the ending because producers are too busy to go around asking questions and won’t be interested unless they get all the information upfront.
I guess either or both could be true. I tend to go with the former, I may be wrong.
But there you go, that’s what I’m doing – synopsisising like a bastard while interesting things are swirling around in the background.
Not literally. It’s not like I’m surrounded by a maelstrom of flying teapots and china knick-knacks.
Unless they stop when I turn round.
Which they might be. Who knows?
Oh fuck, I’m waffling again†. Probably time for a tea break.
* Technically he’s my brother’s best-friend’s brother. But let’s not split hairs. I like him, therefore (in my world) he’s a friend of mine. You’re a friend of mine too, for much the same reason.
† Ha ha! Tricked you! It was all waffle! There was meant to be more substance to this, including examples of the synopses I’m currently working on … but I chickened out because I don’t want people‡ ridiculing me and calling me names.
‡ More people. I don’t want more people ridiculing me and calling me names.