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The Synopsis -- An Editors View 

  by Laurie Sanders

Imagine for a moment that you have just been hired as an acquisitions editor for a small publishing company that publishes romance. Your task is to find a romantic suspense novel to fill a gaping hole in the publisher's schedule. You are excited, thinking you have just landed your dream job. After all, you'll get to read all day, something you love to do anyway, and you'll get paid!

You're shown to your office and logged onto your computer system. You open your email and are pleased to find several submissions already waiting for you. Books you get to read and don't have to pay for! Does it get any better than this?

You open the first email submission and click on the single attachment to open the file. The file that opens has the author's name address and phone number, but there is no letter and no synopsis. You think this is a bit odd, but figure that you were hired to read manuscripts so you settle into your chair and begin to read. The story opens strongly and you are drawn into the world of the heroine who is being chased down a dark alley. You're on the edge of your seat, hanging on every word, wondering what will happen to the heroine. Will she escape the man who is chasing her? You turn pages, faster and faster, remembering that you're supposed to be finding a romantic suspense novel. Now you are on page 60 and though the story has kept you on the edge of your seat and turning pages, there is no hero in sight and your heroine is still running for her life. You begin to wonder where the hero is, and when he'll show up. You begin to wonder whether this book is a romantic suspense at all. Maybe it's a straight suspense, there was no synopsis to tell you. You decide to read a few more pages to see if the hero turns up. A few more pages down the road there is still no hero in sight, and you decide that this manuscript really doesn't work as a romantic suspense so you draft the rejection letter informing the author that the piece doesn't work as a romantic suspense because it lacks a hero and a romantic element.

You're now on to submission number two. Your boss has stuck her head in the door twice to see how you're doing and to inquire whether you've found any promising candidates to fill that looming spot in the schedule.

You open submission number two and are pleased to find that this submission has a cover letter and a synopsis. The cover letter gushes that you'll love the surprise ending the author has crafted for her heroine. You read through the synopsis and find that the hero and heroine meet early in the story, they have both a strong attraction and a strong conflict which keeps them at loggerheads through most of the story. You are just about to jump for joy thinking maybe you've found the piece to plug the hole in the publishing schedule when you read that the hero gets shot and the heroine goes off with the bad guy in the end. So much for loving the surprise ending! You open Word and craft your letter to the author telling her that though you loved the first part of the story as she'd described it, you weren't blown away by the ending. You suggest that the heroine ending up with the hero at the end might be a better ending for the story and suggest that she resubmit if she decides to revise.

Well, it hasn't been a grand day. This acquisitions stuff is harder than it looks. Your boss is getting jumpy now. She's stuck her head in the door twice and keeps casting meaningful looks at the publishing schedule thumb tacked to your cubicle wall. You know you have to find a piece, and find it fast.

You open up submission #3, scan it quickly. It's another submission that jumps straight into chapter one. You'd love to read it, but you wonder if it'll be like the other one, start off great but not really work for you. You decide that you don't really have time to read it right now. You need to find a romantic suspense to fill the spot in your schedule before your boss comes back. You close submission #3 and move on, looking for something that looks promising.

You open submission #4 and scan it quickly, mentally checking off the aspects of the story that you think will work for your readers. The hero and heroine meet early in the story, they have a strong reason to be together and an even stronger one to want to be apart. You cheer mentally thinking that the conflict will certainly be strong. The villain is a strong character in his own right with a good reason to want the hero and heroine out of the picture. More cheering. The author has led you to a scene where the hero and heroine have just jumped off a cliff and are plunging into the icy river below. At this point the synopsis ends with the words, I hope you enjoy my novel.

Far from enjoying the novel, you want to strangle this author. You now have no way of knowing whether the story ends happily ever after or whether the hero dies and the heroine goes off with the villain in a surprise ending. You really don't have time to find out right now, so you push the manuscript aside, into the growing file of ones you'll read when you have more time.

Time passes, the day is growing more and more hectic and you are feeling despair wondering whether you will ever find the perfect romantic suspense manuscript to fill the spot in the publishing schedule.

Finally, you open submission number #9. Silently blessing the author who has been kind enough to include a synopsis. You scan the synopsis looking for the elements that make a strong romantic suspense novel. The hero and heroine meet early on in the story. They are instantly both attracted and at odds with each other. The villain is strong and well motivated. As you read through the sub- mission you can see that the characters internal and external conflicts work together to propel the story. You can follow the path the characters take, you can see the situation getting worse and worse for them as both their relationship and their physical safety are put at risk.

You begin to feel hopeful as you approach that portion of the synopsis where the hero and heroine are facing their final showdown with the villain. You breathe a sigh of relief when the villain is captured, noting that the author has so far hit every mark for a romantic suspense. You keep reading, fingers crossed, hoping that this author delivers the happily ever after ending required by the sub- genre. When the hero and heroine melt happily into each others arms you sigh, feeling that just maybe you've found the romantic suspense novel to fill the open spot in the publishing schedule. You will still have to read the novel to be sure the writing is up to par, but at least you know that the plot works.


About the Author

Laurie Sanders is Editor and CEO at Black Velvet Seductions. The company publishes romance, erotic romance, and romantic suspense. The company offers a free newsletter for authors of romance and gives away free books each Friday. Visit Black Velvet Seductions to check it out.





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