Works of Richard Marsden

The Works of Richard Marsden. Writing and Historical European Martial Arts.

Writing Hints Blog

Synopsis - The Novel 3

Posted by rmarsden on August 29, 2010 at 12:10 PM

Synopsis!

 

If an agent/publisher likes your work they will ask for a synopsis. A synopsis is a little tricky. It's purpose is to give the reader a shotgun blast of the plot from start to finish.

Like the cover letter, a lot of information has to be jammed into a small amount of space. A synopsis is generally around 6-10 pages and has a few rules to follow.

 

1. At the top of the document be sure to have your name, address, etc. just like you would in a cover letter. On the right you will place the genre, manuscript name, and the word synopsis.The title of your book needs to appear about midway down the first page and on the next page your synopsis begins.

 

2. When using a character's name in the synopsis type it in CAPITAL letters the first time the name is used. Use the same name throughout the synopsis. So, if your character has the name Mogor Bolopolese, then you would use the name MOGOR the first time and Mogor from then on out.

 

3. It will help to condense chapters and in them alert the reader as to who point of view a section is from using (POV) as a que.

 

Example:

MOGOR (POV) is a warrior in the land of Stawberricus where he faces a horde of sentient fruit in his quest to rescue PRINCESS MEATLOAF. Mogor arrives at a camp of his fellow warriors and gives a speech to inspire them.

 

4. The synopsis doesn't require dialogue at all except in rare instances to help 'sell' your manuscript. A particularly funny, or meaningful line, can be added into the synopsis for effect, but shouldn't be overdone. There simply isn't enough page space to do it!

 

Example:

 

MOGOR (POV) is a warrior in the land of Stawberricus where he faces a horde of sentient fruit in his quest to rescue PRINCESS MEATLOAF. Mogor arrives at a camp of his fellow warriors and gives a speech to inspire them.

 

"Meatopians! Today is the day we take back our lands!"

 

Mogor's men cheer and they prepare for an assault on their vegitable and fruit overlords.

 

5. You do not need chapter breaks in a synopsis. The purpose of the synopsis is to create a single piece of information that rapidly breaks the story down into its key components from start to finish.

 

Example:

NAME                                                                                                             GENRE

ADDRESS                                                                                                       TITLE

PHONE NUMBER                                                                                         SYNOPSIS

EMAIL

                                                      

 

                                                    EAT YOUR VEGITABLES

 

                                (Don't put by your name here. Leave it blank)

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOGOR (POV) is a warrior in the land of Stawberricus where he faces a horde of sentient fruit in his quest to rescue PRINCESS MEATLOAF. Mogor arrives at a camp of his fellow warriors and gives a speech to inspire them.

 

"Meatopians! Today is the day we take back our lands!"

 

Mogor's men cheer and they prepare for an assault on their vegitable and fruit overlords. Mogor reminices about the days before the fruits and vegitables claimed his lands as their own.

 

Princesss Meatloaf (POV) languishes in a prison of leaves, vines, and bright colors. She overhears GENERAL PUMPKIN talking to his minions about an impending attack from Mogor. He reveals that there is a spy amongst Mogor's ranks. Princess Meatloaf starts to covertly chew at the vines to try and break free of her prison to warn Mogor that he's about to enter a trap and she's the bait! It will take time to bite through the vines though.

 

And so on.

 

The key is to make the manuscript fit in about 6-10 pages and that all the relevant plot information is expressed. The reader in this case isn't looking for prose, but story. However, writing style can't be ditched. Maintain a vocabulary similar to what is used in the manuscript. Work in quick, but effective descriptions, short, but meaningful dialogue. The synopsis is selling mostly 'the story', but that doesn't mean an editor or agent isn't also considering the synopsis as a writing sample as well.

 

I hope this helps! The synopsis can be tough to write! Even moreso than the novel. However, at least an author gets more space to pitch their story than they do in the cover letter!

Categories: Novel Advice

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