Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Synopsis

For me there is nothing inspiring about a synopsis. When I sit down to write one, my gut tightens and there's a hint of nausea in the air. While looking through a book of essays by some writers that's almost 20 years old, I did find some clues about what a synopsis is and some hints about how to write one. I'm not sure this makes the process less painful, but I'll share some of the things I learned. Some of them make sense to me and others don't.

Synopsis should be done in present tense and third person. This strikes me as odd. What about those stories that are done in first person. Maybe the synopsis would sound odd if using the I character. I'll concede here but doing the entire thing in present tense amkes it hard if you want to put a bit of the back story in. Haven't figured out what to do here.

The synopsis should be as short as can be and get the entire story in. What that means is forget the subplots and the odd characters who pop into the story to add flavor. Stick to the main plot. Go with beginning, middle and end. Putting the end in is important. The editor has to know you're capable of ending the story in a satisfactory manner.

About the characters, only give names to those who are important like hero, heroine and villain. The others can enter the synposis by such things as mother, friend, that sort of thing but try to put only those who are important into the synopsis. Do not confuse the editor with a cast of thousands even if they are in the book.

Word choice is important. Strong verbs, specific nouns, the telling adjective. Try to leave out the sort of phrases that flow nicely but take away from the number of words you need to tell the story.

The first sentence is important. Make it one that hooks the interest but this won't help if the words that follow don't keep this level of urgency. If you're putting in character sketches, keep them short and succinct. Here the characters wants and reasons are important. But don't go into volumes about their past. Keep it short.

This is what I learned about the synposis. I'm not sure it has inspired me to write one. Just remember if you need to do one, this is a selling tool, not the book. Short, simple and concise.

1 comment:

Diane Craver said...

Great points in writing a synopsis, Janet!