Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Conquer the Synopsis Summit


synopsis |səˈnäpsis|noun ( pl. synopses |-ˌsēz| )-A brief summary or general survey of something: a synopsis of the accident.-An outline of the plot of a book, play, movie, or episode of a television show.
Like the query, a synopsis can be intimidating. Thankfully there's plenty of great advice out there for conquering the Synopsis Summit.

If you visit Elizabeth Craig's "Writer's Knowledge Base" and type "Synopsis" into the search bar, you'll find a treasure trove of resources. Here are some of my favorites:

(This is TOTALLY AWESOME!)

The Sum of the Parts: Writing a Synopsis, by Janice Hardy
(As always, her advice is spot on)

(Nuts and bolts of a synopsis)

(Cool tips for making a good synopsis stronger)

(Get it and get out, and don't lose your voice)

How to Write a Synopsis, by Nathan Bransford
(Cover the major plot points)

This time around, I tried something new. On a fresh sheet of paper, I wrote down each of Dan Wells' 7 plot points. Then, next to each plot point, I wrote one sentence summarizing that plot point in my book. Then I fleshed out each of these points.

My synopsis is still in its infancy, and there's a lot of smoothing, tweaking, trimming, and refreshing that I'll be tackling. But this system gave me a place to start. 

Do you have any tips you can share with us about writing a synopsis? Please share in the comments!

37 comments:

  1. Julie, thanks for this, as I will hopefully, soon, be needing to write one of these.
    Karen

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  2. Wow! I've bookmarked this helpful post. Thank you, Julie!
    I just finished my novel and found that writing the synopsis was the most difficult part of the process! With my next novel, I'm going to try using Dan Well's 7 plot points.

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    1. Sheri, I wished I would've written the synopsis first! I've heard of people doing that. Good luck with your writing!

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  3. These links are great timing since I plan to tackle my synopsis this month! Thanks so much for posting. :)

    One thing I've learned is to keep your characters to the only the main players.

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    1. Karen, that's a great tip. It seems with the synopsis our instinct is to write too much or too little. Balance is key (and tough!)

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  4. Great info here, Julie! I write a short brief after each chapter - just a few main point and plot sentences. I do this on the first read through so I have an outline set out for me by the end of the first read through. It helps me when I must put it all together.

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    1. Loree, that's such a great idea! I'm going to remember that one. Thanks

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  5. The synopsis is one of the most difficult things to write. Thanks for those links, as I need to put one together for CassaStorm soon. Should've remembered Elizabeth's database would have tips.

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    1. Alex, there's all kinds of great stuff on her database. Good luck on your synopsis!

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  6. I also find synopsis writing (before or after writing the book) the hardest part of the process...still don't think I've ever written a decent one, despite at least five attempts.

    Thanks for the links!

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    1. Jennifer, for me, it's THE hardest thing. Too much? Too little? Oy!

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  7. Hi, Julie! Thanks for all the links.

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  8. Oh! Wish I'd had this when I was in synopsis torment last week! You have such a helpful site! Enjoying Dan's plot points, too! Thanks so much.

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    1. Michelle, "synopsis torment" is such a perfect description! Glad you got yours done :)

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  9. Gonna have to file this one away for later. Thanks for the links! When I wrote mine, I started with chapter summaries & worked from there. Made it a lot easier.

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    1. Nancy, that's such a great idea. Then you probably just whittled it down. Thanks for the tip

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  10. Fantastic post, thanks for all the links. I agree that the synopsis is the hardest part in the writing process, well at least writing a good synopsis is. When I started writing mine I highlighted all of the important plot points and characters and started from there.

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  11. I'm three revision chapters away from going back to tweak a synopsis. Thanks for the links. Must peruse before pulling synopsis trigger.

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    1. Can't wait to see the final version :)

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  12. You posted some awesome links! This sounds terrible, but I've been known to avoid querying agents who ask for a synopsis. Sad, I know.

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  13. I'd much rather write a query than a synopsis. I have found that having a decent chapter by chapter outline helps. But it still isn't fun - or easy!

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  14. Aah!! I too dread this more than the synopsis but I'll be working on those fears sooner than I'd like...

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  15. That is, I dread the synopsis more than the query...lol.

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  16. Nice article, thanks for the information.

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  17. If I were one of those awesome plotter people, I'd probably have the synopsis done before the book. Or at least a working model! *sigh* Good luck!!

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  18. Thank you, Julie. These resources will come in handy this month. Harper Voyager is allowing unsolicited submissions for digital publication.

    http://harpervoyagerbooks.com/harper-voyager-guidelines-for-digital-submission/

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  19. I'm saving this for when that's something I need to do. These resources are great! Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Such useful links! Yes, synopses are scary. Now that I've written a few of them, my motto is just "get 'er done." I don't worry so much about getting them perfect at all. Just get the story down on paper and then edit as needed. So far no one's asked me for a twenty pager or anything. I hope no one ever does!

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  21. Oh. My. Goodness! This is AWESOME! I've been avoiding writing a synopsis but this will definitely help. Thanks for posting! :)

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  22. Great resources! I find the synopsis so much easier than the query - but it's still intimidating. Keeping that voice is vital - and that's the hard part! :)

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  23. Excellent post! Thanks for sharing all your resources. I especially enjoyed Susan Dennard's post.

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