Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writing a Synopsis

anxieties,business,businesspeople,businesswomen,deadlines,emotions,females,paperwork,people,people at work,persons,stress,time management,times,women,worriesRecently I had to write a synopsis for a critique. I spent three grueling days trying to narrow down a complete novel into one page. I am posting something I found while googling "how to write a synopsis" that I found helpful. Thought I'd share.

A Basic Guide to Writing Synopses

By Theresa Rizzo 2007

A synopsis is a brief summary of the novel that provides key information about the characters, plot and conflict.

· It is almost always written in third person, present tense.

· Do not justify the right margin.

· Use 1" margins on all sides.

· It is common to type a character's name in all caps—or to bold it, the first time he or she is introduced.

· In the synopsis tell the whole story, hitting the essential plot points—including the ending.

· Most agents and editors prefer a fiction synopsis about 2-3 pages double-spaced these days.

· The greatest challenge is to write as cleanly and as tightly as possible, using powerful verbs and few adverb and adjectives.

· Contrary to novel writing, in a synopsis you tell rather than show.

· It’s written as one long unified narrative.

· Use no dialogue.

· Do not include subplots in a very short synopsis.

· Move smoothly from one event to another.

· Weave characterization into the action.

· Be sure to include characters' motivations.

· The tone/style of writing in the synopsis should reflect the tone/style of the book.

I typically start with a premise—or log line. A two sentence little blurb to hook the agent/editor, introduce the main plot, key conflict, and characters, then progress by introducing the main character, what her goal is and why she can’t immediately attain it (conflict). Then we move into the action of the story, but while hitting the highlights of the plot, it’s important to remember to tell the motivation and how the protagonist feels about and is affected by the things that happen in the story.

Do you have any synopsis nightmares or helpful stories to share?


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the ideas--I find writing a synopsis very difficult. I had to write one recently as well, and found myself banging my head on my desk. :) Love the blog; glad I found you. (And congrats on the win over at Market My Words!) :)

Wendy Lawrence

Janet Johnson said...

Ooof! Best of luck doing your synopsis. They are NOT easy.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Congrats on your win at Market My Words! :-)

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Thanks for the comment, Wendy. Yeah, why do they put us through that whole synopsis torture anyway? Is it so that we might actually know what our story is about? LOL.

Thanks for the contrats! I was so excited to win, I ran through the house shouting "I won, I won." My husband said, "What did you win? A car? a cruise?" But he also added that I was a winner, even if I hadn't won the contest.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Thanks Shannon. And thanks for the "follow."