And they lived happily ever after - The Synopsis

Or maybe "... and they didn't speak to each other for the rest of their lives."  How about, "... then his nemesis died a long and fiery death."  

I'm working on ILYU's synopsis.  You actually get to explain what happens in the entire novel with a synopsis, including the ending (yay!), which I've found is much easier than writing a query.  Especially compared to the email/shortest version of query.  Can you imagine if agents required us to text, or worse yet, tweet our queries?  Oh the stress us writers would be put through!  (If for some odd reason this small blog is ever seen by an agent, please, I repeat, please do not even ponder for a second the possibility of that idea!)  

I think each writer has a different opinion about a query vs. a synopsis.  The main reason I love it the latter is because you're allowed words. WORDS!  More than a mere few hundred of them to explain this thing, this chunk of your life that has consumed more thoughts than you ever imagined were possible to come up with.  I'm a big fan of words, and tend to go far beyond what I plan to write, even when blogging.  Summarizing 70,ooo-some pages is hard.  I love to throw in the "good" details.  So being able to explain the entire plot, for me, is a wonderful thing.

Some agents request a synopsis.  Others don't.  My next batch of agents to query require that I send both.  Now this could be my naiveness talking, but being able to send the synopsis along with a query actually gives me a little comfort.  It's my opportunity to share more about ILYU, to highlight the conflict and make it shine.  (We'll see if I still feel that way in a few days, when I'm closer to finishing.)

Here's a description of a synopsis, according to an article I found on this website- A successful synopsis is not a short story version of your book nor or a piece of creative writing. It is a business document.

The article goes on to summarize the key points to writing a synopsis.  I liked how it was broken down, and thought I'd share it with you.

1) Characters: Some People Count, Some Don't.

This list must be kept to the bare essentials.  So and so's brother's wife's old neighbor's ex-husband isn't necessary to mention, unless he plays a major part in the story.

2)  Plot: Just the Facts, Ma'am.

Think of this as the key ingredients to your story.  Descriptions of feelings and how people look don't go here.  The only thing necessary is just what this title says, the plot.  Keep the story moving, keep the agents reading.

3)  Conflict: Show how the Characters Suffer

Ah.  The most exciting part to write.  Actions, reactions.  What did that particular event make the character/s do?  Did anyone learn anything from that event?  Did it make them better, or worse, in the long run?

4)  Description: The Devil is in the Details

The best line in this advice in this paragraph is "... search the synopsis for adjectives and adverbs and then cut almost all of them."  Yeah.  This will be my weakness.  

5)  Show and Tell

I'm reminded of what I blogged about a while back, when I was having a hard time writing the beginning of ILYU.   My MC was supposed to be telling what happened, and I had to stop and look at it from the point of view of being the listener, sitting somewhere as Hallie told her story.  That's exactly what you're supposed to do.  Tell what went down, simply.  Hold back on a bunch of descriptions.  

For more information on synopsis do's and don'ts, check out these links:

Rebecca Knight: Writer in Progress (I had no clue she posted about this yesterday until I had already written this post.  Great minds think alike!)

There are many more sites with great info.  Do a quick search.  Google can be your best friend.



Jessica Bell said...

I'm about to query agents too. Got the query done, now I have to do a synopsis. I hate synopses. They're my worst nightmare. I can't find comfort in turning literature into something that lacks dynamic, and I can't seem to feel satisfied with anything that I write. It all sounds horrible to me. Dilemma!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

I am doing okay with getting everything down into a few pages. My problem is getting the voice in there. Hard stuff.

Jm Diaz said...

You are brave synopsiererer (?).
I hope you've ironed out the voice you want for it.. when you do you plan to start querying?

Cassandra Frear said...

Good practical post, Jessica!

I am not at this point yet. Good for you that you are!

John Ettorre said...

Good luck, Jessica.