Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why is Writing a Synopsis so Hard?

"A synopsis is a cold thing. You do it with the front of your mind."
~ J.B. Priestley

Is it only me or do you break out in a cold sweat just thinking about having to write a synopsis? I can write novels. I can write devotionals. I can even whip out a mean shopping list. But writing the dreaded synopsis brings out the idiot in me. Perhaps, indeed, I have lost the front half of my brain somewhere along the way.

So what's my problem? Am I giving this too much importance? Am I trying to fit in too much information? Has there not been enough dark chocolate in my diet of late?

Regardless of reasons, there's no getting around the fact that I must polish up my synopsis in order to sell my finished manuscript. After toodling around the ol' internet for awhile, I came up with the top "3 Should Haves" in a great manuscript summary. 

Introduce your main characters, focusing most on goals, motivations and conflicts rather than on physical attributes. 
Hint: Think back cover copy.
Example: It takes a thief to catch one, and there's none better than reformed officer (MOTIVATION) Doug Harwell. He'll stop at nothing to rid the Boston streets of crime (GOAL)--until the beautiful cat burglar Rhianna Davis enters his life (CONFLICT).

For the body of the synopsis, set up each paragraph with the actions, reactions, and decisions made by those main characters.
Example: Bob kisses Donna under the apple tree (ACTION).
He makes her forget she's already engaged to Bubba (REACTION).
Donna decides to break off her engagement and run away to join the circus instead (DECISION).

Tie up the loose ends.
Never, ever leave an editor guessing. Cliffhangers are great for chapter endings, but not for a synopsis finale. You must include the resolution to your story.

There you have it. Pretty simple right? Yeah. About as simple as buying a house, selling a house, and moving all within the space of a month. But hey, if I can do that, this should be a piece of cake.

2 comments:

Ane Mulligan said...

Piece of cake. Right. Except I'm not a baker. LOL Writing the novel is easier than the synopsis, but hey together, we do a decent job!

Michelle Griep said...

And that is exactly why God put us together!

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