Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Synopsis

I recently entered a writing contest where I was asked to submit my first chapter and a synopsis of my work in progress.

Easy enough, right?  I mean, sure, I'd never written a synopsis before but how hard can it be?

So I sat down and a whole bunch of hours later felt pretty good about what I produced.  Then, just for fun, I thought I'd go online and see how other authors wrote their synopsis.  Turns out, I didn't write a synopsis at all.  I wrote the back cover of my book.

And I ate a nice piece of humble pie :)

So what is a synopsis?  It's a summary of your book from beginning to end.  Yup, that means you have to know how your book will end.  This was and remains a problem for me since I rarely, if ever, know how a book will end when I start writing.  Perhaps this is amateurish.  Ok, it probably is.  I also wouldn't recommend it since it entails a ton of rewriting. 

Ok, so I need to work on outlining. 

Back to the synopsis.  Here's some helpful info from Writer's Digest:

The Synopsis Format

Friedman gives some of the best tips for formatting a synopsis. She recommends beginning with a strong paragraph identifying your protagonist, problem or conflict, and setting. The next paragraph should convey any major plot turns or conflicts necessary and any characters that should be mentioned in order for your book summary to make sense to whomever is reading it. Lastly, she recommends indicating how major conflicts are resolved in the last paragraph. This ensures a clear presentation of your book or novel and doesn’t leave the reader confused.

Now, the tricky part is following this guideline while enticing an agent and also not giving so much away that there's no point in reading your story.

The synopsis I wrote was 500 words.  Not a whole lot of wiggle room, so make sure every word counts.

If you want to get your synopsis critiqued, Writer's Digest has a service (you probably have to pay). 

Good luck!

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