Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Dreaded Synopsis

It boggles my mind that I can write an entire novel, but I cannot write a simple, one-page synopsis.
I’m in the process of applying for a writing mentorship program, which requires a one-page synopsis, 20 pages of my draft, and an artist’s statement.  Well, surely, after writing an 80,000-word story, I should be able to fill up one measly little page.  Besides, I review books all of the time.  I know how to sum them up.  Right?

Wrong.  So very, very wrong.

Apparently, I am an idiot when it comes to writing a synopsis for my own book.  I came to this conclusion over the weekend.  I wrote it.  I read it.  And it sucked.  Big time.  So, did I roll up my sleeves and try, try again?

No, I sulked.  If I can’t even write a one-page summary of my book, then my book must be a complex pile of crap.  (But I really, really hope that it’s not.)

However, while I may have given up for that day,  I haven’t given up.  My husband, who knows the entire story and is much more succinct than I am, has begun to help me pull out what’s important.  I just need to flesh it out from there.

Is it hard?  Very.

But can I do it?  God, I hope so!

I don’t have much advice for others trying to write a synopsis of their own, but I’ve read some of the tips and I’d love to pass them on.  If you have any tips or helpful pointers, let me know! (And if I’m wrong about something, let me know that, too. PLEASE!)

Necessary Elements the Synopsis Should Cover:
  1. What your book is about
  2. What characters we will care about (or dislike)
  3. What is at stake for your heroes
  4. What they stand to lose, and
  5. How it all turns out (Yes, you have to give away the ending.  I know, it hurts.)
Synopsis Checklist:
_____Does the opening paragraph have a hook to keep the reader reading?
_____Are your main characters' conflicts clearly defined?
_____Are your characters sympathetic?
_____Can the reader relate to them and worry about them?
_____Have you avoided all grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes?
_____Have you hit on the major scenes, the major plot points of your book?
_____Did you resolve major conflicts?
_____Did you use present tense?
_____Did you use 3rd person?
_____Is it written in the same style as your book?
_____Is your main character’s name in all CAPS the first time mentioned in the synopsis? (ONLY the first time)
For more information and advice: http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-synopsis.html

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