The dreaded synopsis…is there anything authors hate writing more than this (okay, maybe a query…but still). I mean, it is hard collapsing your 60 to 80K (or longer) novel into a measly couple of pages (single-spaced)
Now, try doing it the way the editors I met suggested…in a single page, double-spaced. A couple of paragraphs!
Yep, that was the advice – make your synopsis SHORT. VERY SHORT.
Wow, and I thought they were hard before.
The truth is, the three published authors, and four children’s editors I met all agree – shorter is better when it comes to the synopsis. Their other advice –
- Look at the story arc and start from there
- Start with your log-line or elevator pitch
- Address the who, the what, and the why
- Keep the voice active
- Keep it functional
- And yes, you must tell the whole story – no cliff-hangers in the synopsis!
Yeah – so much easier said than done. But, being a tenacious sort of person, I decided to give it a try.
So, since I do outline and look at the arc of the story (the problem, the first turn, the second turn, the climax, the resolution), I decided to start there.
To help out a little more, I took a page from the world of screenwriting, and followed a great structure I found at Screenplay Mastery. This particular structure outlines the five major turning points within a six-stage plot structure that all successful films has. More importantly (because I love examples), it used the films Gladiator and Cast Away as examples.
Now, after stumbling on this, I took my story outline, matched it up and bingo – the structure of my synopsis.
After working, and reworking, and reworking for a while, I finally did it – I crafted a short, 1-page double-spaced synopsis I actually like.
I guess it can really be done.
An added side-benefit from this exercise – if your story does have any wholes, this process finds them…and FAST.
So, what do ya think? Willing to give it a try? Have another way that works for you?