Friday, May 29, 2009

The Dreaded Synopsis

For non-writer readers of this blog, a synopsis is a summary of a manuscript required by editors and agents. This means that a writer has to reduce an entire story to a few pages. If we were good at this, we would be songwriters, not novelists.

Here are a few links that have helped me in synopsis writing:

Writing the Tight Synopsis by Author Beth Anderson

Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis by Author Lisa Gardner

How to Write a Synopsis by Agent Nathan Bransford

I am fine-tuning the synopsis for my current Work In Progress. I changed my writing process to create the synopsis before starting a new manuscript a couple of projects ago. Writing the synopsis first and adjusting it as the story unfolds means that I don’t have this huge dreaded task waiting for me when I figuratively type The End.

If writing a book was like enjoying a multi-course meal, would the synopsis be your appetizer or the dessert?


Tom said...

Rae Ann,
Having just finished a synopsis, I'd have to say that it doesn't qualify as main course or dessert, but like the beets that your mother made you sit at the table until you ate them. I also found out that some publishers want a one page synopsis and others up to five pages. Both are difficult.

Alli said...

I think most writers would agree with Tom. But, I think it's a great idea to write it first--I think it would help get all of the dialogue and plot twists running through your head to run in the same direction. And if something changes as you write (because the characters will inevitably throw a kink in your set-in-place-great-idea), then you can just change the synopsis as you go.

Rae Ann Parker said...

TOM: We never ate beets at our house growing up (thank goodness), but I get the picture. Re: the one page vs. the five page synop, the skill of following directions certainly does come in handy during the submission process.

ALLI: I want to stress again that it is both a relief and a huge help in writing to get the synopsis out of the way first. And I do adjust it as I go. When I remember to do it.