Friday, August 6, 2010

Synopsis S.O.S.

I'm struggling with writing a one page synopsis for my novel.  For anyone out there who has never tried to do this, you're probably asking yourself:  One page?  What's the big deal?  How hard can that be?

Imagine having to strip away 200+ pages of complex plot and emotional layers, characters you love and characters you love to hate, scenes that makes you laugh out loud, an ending that makes you weep with its "rightness" until all that's left is one page - one strong, solid spine of a story.

A worthy endeavor?  Absolutely.  An excruciating one?  Absolutely.

And that's not even counting the formatting dilemma.  Should characters' names be in all caps the first time they're introduced?  Should a one page synopsis be block paragraphs, single spaced with double spacing between paragraphs?  The writing books on my shelf say yes but are they outdated?  The blogs I've searched don't say much about formatting.  Is worrying about the format outdated as well?   

I'd welcome any and all advice on writing a synopsis.  (I'd also welcome chocolate cupcakes, but I digress.)


  1. I feel your pain. It is very hard for me to write a synopsis, even for a short story!

  2. As I begin to submit my first novel, I can say I wholeheartedly identify with your dilemma! After spending months getting lost in my story from the inside to began to feel like the whole world; trying to reduce it to a brief synopsis seems like sacrilege. Not to mention, the novel I ended up with is far stranger than the one I set out to write - which I like from a artistic point of view, but it makes marketing the thing more difficult than I anticipated.

    As for formatting, don't take this to the bank but from the research I've done, formatting of a synopsis isn't subject to any strict guidelines beyond those of a standard letter. Good luck!

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Franklin. It's interesting that your novel ended up being "stranger" than the one you wanted to write. Must be your muse letting loose. Good luck with your novel and your synopsis! :)

  4. True that, Madeline. And the query? Oy.

    (I bookmarked something recently about writing a synopsis. When I find it again, I'll send you the link.)

  5. Don't get me started on the query. Ugh.

    I'd love that link, if you can find it - if not, don't worry! :)

  6. It's just a formatting checklist-but you want to start out on the right foot, right?

    P.S. It's WD, so I figure it's relatively reliable and up-to-date. Best of luck!

  7. Hold on a tic-I was looking up something else and came across The Synopsis Project over at Victoria Strauss' blog (Writer Beware):

    Gives LOTS of plot synopsis samples. I likee samples. Maybe you'll likee too. :-)

  8. Thanks a lot, Cathy! I'll definitely check those out. And yes, I likee a good free sample myself. :)