Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Write a Synopsis: Helpful Tips!

Writers are crazy, but what makes us even *crazier* is the thought of writing a synopsis.

"It took me 95,000 words to tell my story, and now you want me to boil it down to 500??!"

Well, yeah. Basically.

No pressure, right? :P

Luckily for us, there are those wiser than we are to give us a helping hand!

Chuck over at the The Guide to Literary Agents blog posted some great tips on writing a good synopsis of your story.

Search wikipedia for movies and read what the wikinerds had to say! How did they sum up the movie? How did they describe the main character and conflict? It's one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time for finding examples of tight story outlines. Hats off to you, Chuck!

Author Anne Mini also had a very detailed post about questions you should ask yourself while writing your synopsis. Go check it out! It's extremely thorough and will whip your synopsis' butt into shape!

I also read a neat trick somewhere (I forget where, so please clue me in if you know, and I'll give credit) that if you're stuck on how to begin, follow these simple steps:

1) Sum your book up in one sentence. That's all you get! Think about what you'd tell someone if they asked you what your book is about, but you only had ten seconds to spit it out.

2) Now that you've sweated some blood and have your sentence synopsis nailed down, summarize your book in a single paragraph! This should feel much easier now that you've boiled it down to a sentence. Focus on the barest most essential pieces of the main conflict. What's at stake? Who is the MC? Why do we care?

3) Expand your paragraph into a one-page description! Some agents prefer a single page synopsis to the garden variety 2 page synopsis. This should feel like a walk in the park compared to what you've already accomplished. Stop and have a glass of wine. You're almost there!

4) Expand to 2 pages! Ahhhhhh. It's like unbuttoning your pants after a big meal. Finally, some room to breathe! The daunting task suddenly doesn't seem so daunting any more.

Hey, you've now got a 2 page synopsis :). Go send some queries, and good luck!

Does anyone else have any tips for writing a great synopsis? What works for you and what doesn't?


Amanda Acton said...

These are great tips! Thanks! :) I'll bookmark them for when I eventually get to that stage. It seems SOOOOO far away though. >_<

Abby said...

Great tips! I wrote mine a few months back and haven't looked at it since. I'm too scared. :S

christine said...

Nice post. I have some synopsis tips on my blog in the writer resource section. Since I outline, it becomes easy for me to see the plot line and hit the major events. What is NOT easy for me is keeping the voice! Great job, Rebecca.

Rebecca Knight said...

Thanks, guys! I'm glad this was helpful :).