Monday, May 24, 2010

the long and short of it

I have a heck of a time coming up with a tagline for anything I've ever written, yet, lately I've had to work on some short synopses of certain things for various reasons. A tagline, which is even worse than a synopsis, is the answer to how would you summarize your book in one sentence?

I feel completely helpless when I'm asked to do something like that. Not that I'm comparing myself to the artist, but when I was at the MOMA last month, I stood in front of Monet's Water Lilies. I wonder what he would have done if someone asked him to make it smaller. Like the size of a Post-it note.

The reason I have such a difficult time with such things as synopses is that I consider myself to be a holistic writer -- someone who starts with a dim image of the entire canvas and then works until all the surface details are filled in. Other authors I know, the recipe writers, use things like graphic organizers, index cards, charts, and --ugh!-- outlines. Not that there's anything wrong with that kind of writing. I just can't do that, either.

Because if I was working on filling out a chart, or making a perfect outline, once I finished with those tasks I'd feel like I had done what I set out to do, and that would be that. In my mind, the end goal of making an outline or a flowchart is the outline or the flowchart.

The recipe is the abbreviation of the cake. Since it can't be eaten, I won't be bothered with it.