Summaries, synopses, structures, and pitfalls

The hard thing about writing a summary is that — at least for me — I need to know more details about the thing I’m summarizing than ever end up in the synopsis. Yes, I realize that seems self-evident when I write it that way, but I’ve been trying to tackle this freaking synopsis for my thesis story and it’s harder than it really should be.

And it’s because I’m just not feeling right over certain details. Or, more correctly, I wasn’t feeling right about details. Just as I posted the thing before about structure and plot, if I get all caught up in my head, if I get all tangled up and the whats and wherefores, I lose the heart.

There are some structural problems with the initial conception of the story. I wanted to go polyphonic, but I had a singular main character who we follow as she travels. But she’s getting off a planet under siege! Lots of people are trying to do the same thing. And there’s the crew of the ship she gets on, and what happens then and there? I mean, as I’m thinking about it now, I can see a hell of a stage play come from that scenario.

But that is distraction. In trying to tackle this synopsis for the second time (I tried it a couple — yeah, I know, two — months ago), I’m feeling out the hearts of these people. I wasn’t before. I know I suffer from issues around structure, and it’s just a weakness I have that I need to learn to compensate for. I am, by nature, not an organized person. It is what it is, and I have to pay extra attention to compensate for it. Same here.

So this new approach/attack/attempt has given me a better sense of what’s going on in the story, not what structural things I feel like I need to have. This was a lesson I learned starkly in playwriting — in the beginning, I wrote what I thought people should say to each other, instead of transcribing what I heard them say to each other. Polyphony, just communicated differently. This whole research project is about emergent theory, and here I’ve been trying to rig up structure and theory and story in a way that I think it should be happening due to surrounding circumstances, instead of just stepping aside and letting the damn thing happen.

I know I do this. I know what to look for. So why did it happen so cripplingly this time? I mean, I’m glad I’ve spotted it now, but for [expletive]’s sake, could I have not sorted this out two months ago?

I’m off to writing again, and let’s hope I’m not walking down the wrong stupid road again.

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