The synopsis.

open book and words The SynopsisSynopsis. Say that word and you hear a collective gasp of stress throughout the world of writers. One page, maybe a few pages, and it is daunting to people who routinely pound out 350.  Writing a synopsis prior to creating a long work is a helpful path, although of course it will most likely change by the end, and need updating. Whether written partially before or entirely afterwards, the devil is in the details of a synopsis. There are no secrets in a synopsis, all must be revealed. On the other hand…. (there is always another hand)…. subplots may – must? – be cut. This is where the pain and agony begin. How to cut a subplot (viewed as essential by the author) yet maintain the essence of the story. How to reduce a long piece to what feels like nothing.  Some things I’ve learned that might be helpful: 1) Remember the synopsis is a SUMMARY. Does the book have a beginning, middle, and end? What is the inciting incident and what is the conclusion? Reveal everything major that happens in the book, including the ending. (Yes, mystery writers, reveal whodunit!) 2) This is the time for lean writing. “Jane shot Bob. He died.” At the same time don’t step out of the narrative (meaning don’t interject phrases like: and at the climax….).  3) Follow standard formatting rules. The length of a synopsis may vary depending on who requested it (standard is one or two pages). Capitalize character names when they are introduced. Keep this list to the five or, at the absolute most six, important characters. This will also help trim the subplots.  Writing a synopsis can be a letdown at the end of a long project. All this time spent on a few pages of summary when the ENTIRE THING is ready to be read! Persevere and give it your full attention. The synopsis is the tool that will (hopefully) get EVERYTHING read. Write, review, put aside, ask a Beta reader of the book to read it. Repeat. Put as much attention into the synopsis as you did to the book….. and then call it done! Thoughts on a synopsis…. join MissDemeanors on our Facebook to share!

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