Synopsis or die?




Okay, so that sounds a little dramatic.

But if you are like me, doing the last minute fine tuning on the novel, the synopsis suddenly has taken the stage, front and center.

 A virtual drama queen. 

Our job? To make that girl dance and sing.




I took a little soft shoe in college, but a theatrical director I ain’t.

A visit to the props department on Google yields some helpful tips. Here are a few, not in order of importance, that have been useful in getting me started. Maybe they will help you too.

Some resources

“Start with a hook,” says the Vivian Beck Agency, in 5 Steps to Writing a Synopsis. It’s a brief, quick review, good perhaps to use as an outline to get you going.

Vicki Taylor writes an engaging article, “Overcoming the Fear of Writing a Synopsis,” leading you through the process with “Lady and the Tramp” as simple example.

Writing a Novel Synopsis” by Fiction Writer’s Connection, gives you a simple, direct check list that’s useful.

How I Write a Fiction Synopsis,” by Diana Peterfreund, takes a surprising look at how she writes her synopsis first, before the book. Too late for this one but I might consider it for next novel.

Writing a Synopsis, Part 1,” by Gordon Carroll, a client of literary agent Rachelle Gardner, takes a fresh approach, and walks you through the process, one aspect at a time. Rachelle has a really nice site design and other helpful posts. Check it out.

Kathi Carmichael, in “Writing the Fiction Synopis,” urges you to have fun with it and reminds you of some other great tips about the industry.

“Always include the ending to your story, no matter what. Agents will slam dunk your synopsis if you neglect to include this info,” suggests Therese Walsh, at Writer Unboxed, “Writing the Synopsis.” An interesting site featuring several writers. Worth a look. 

This is nice! Annie Gracie, in “That Dreaded Synopsis,” gives you a peak at a real, live one she submitted for one of her books. Warning, if you haven’t read the book yet, she gives a few secrets away.

e-How makes everything easier in “How to Write a Synopsis for a Book or Magazine Publisher or Editor.” Another interesting resource site to boot.

Got to love this one, by a guy who calls himself the mad professor of fiction writing. Randy Ingermanson, in “Writing the Synopsis, Tactics,” takes a tip/example approach which makes it really clear.

Where did I start?

I’ve started by opening a Word doc and doing a complete, nutshell review of the book. Each chapter has a few sentences pulling in the key theme, plus any phrasing or dialogue that might add color to it.

This process is also helped me check the logic-flow, making sure the various themes have been carried out appropriately throughout the novel. I caught several gaps, which the checking notes I’ve added will help me quickly address.

My final doc is 23 pages long. About 13 pages too long for a 100K plus novel.

The next job then, to start melting the chapters together, setting the stage for character, setting, and conflict.

You quickly see that patience is a prerequisite when writing a synopsis.

One bit of useful advice I found, you don’t have to introduce all the characters or voices. This has been helpful since I have several minor plot themes that I can allude to in a general way without having to bulk up the final production.

Generally, what I hear people saying is that there are many approaches and a few key musts to writing a successful synopsis.

I can see it will not be any less of a wild ride than writing the novel itself was.  

More to come on my own little drama queen’s progress.

How about you? I’m interested in your tips and suggestions.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Topics about Dance » Synopsis or die?

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