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Synopsis questions

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Help, I'm not sure how to go about doing a synopsis! Do I just go straight through and start breaking down the book- this happened, and then that, then this- or do I need to sort of introduce my character first and what she's about and who's who? Here's some examples of what I'm talking about:

Seventeen-year old AMITY SOMERSET is a member of the Nighters, a group of young people who risk going out at night to fight against the gargoyles that prey on humans. She keeps her nocturnal activities secret from her parents, but due to a chance encounter is unable to keep it from, BENJAMIN ISAACS, her deceased sister's fiancee.

Or, do I just jump straight in, like so:

AMITY SOMERSET, a member of the Nighters, arrives at the Nighter safe house by way of the coal chute. Her partner, BENJAMIN ISAACS, arrives right behind her, and is upset over Amity having broken one of the Nighter's rules. He immediatey sets out to talk the founder and leader of the Nighters, WILLIAM DAWES.

And I'd thought I'd read somewhere that you capitilize a character's name whenever you first introduce them? And one more thing- is two pages the norm? I don't think I can fit it all into one...

Thanks guys!

#1 - May 20, 2013, 01:18 PM

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Your second example is more synopsis like - your first is more like a query. You don't need to capitalize, and one page is the norm. Just hit the high points.

Your story sounds interesting!
#2 - May 20, 2013, 02:35 PM

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Synopses can be a pain. Many people will admit this upfront, and it's okay to still think so even after you've written them. :)

In general, I like your second approach best.

Yes, many do capitalize a character's name at first mention. Doing this is fine, but not doing it won't earn you a reject.

I usually see a length of 1-2 pp. requested. I would see if I can do it in one, to be more sure you aren't allowing flab in there just because you think you have two pages. Then, if you still need to extend onto a second page, fine, but I think sticking to one is preferable.

There are good links online. Here's one from Pub Crawl: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

 :goodluck
#3 - May 20, 2013, 02:39 PM
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I think the name in all caps is done in scripts, but it's not necessary in a book synopsis.

As to length--there is no norm. It depends. I tend to write 4 1/2 page double-spaced synopses (it always works out to 4 1/2 pages!) and no one has ever told me not to. That's for adult or upper YA historicals and fantasies, though--I'm sure a synopsis for, say, a contemporay MG might run shorter.
#4 - May 20, 2013, 02:44 PM
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I have given talks on one-page synopses and my best advice is to think of the synopsis as an advertisement for your book, similar to a back blurb on a book. Then imagine you're telling just the high points of your story to a friend and you want to make it sound interesting. Unlike a back blurb, though, be sure to give a satisfying idea of how it ends. Good luck!
#5 - May 20, 2013, 02:49 PM
Author of SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB & in 2016: CA$H KAT
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And remember that the synopsis will give an overview of the entire book including the ending.
#6 - May 20, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Thanks everyone!  :grouphug2: I actually like the idea of one page better than two- it's less work! So basically hit the book's main highlights and make sure the ending is all spelled out, and not just hinted at. Got it! At least in theory anyway...  ;D
#7 - May 20, 2013, 05:45 PM

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I feel your pain, Leandra. I am just about to start on a synopsis for my latest MS and I'm having flashbacks to when I wrote my last one...erg.

I have a little blog post about the approach I used. I created a little checklist about what I hoped to achieve with my synopsis which helped keep me on track. Not sure if it's helpful, but you're more than welcome to check it out:

http://sarahepps.com/2012/09/03/184/
#8 - May 20, 2013, 07:17 PM
http://sarahepsteinbooks.com/
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I'm going through this exact thing right now, and I feel your pain! But will echo everyone's advice here. Let's agree to not overthink it -- Linda Joy and Christy are right on, and check out the link that mrh suggested. Also, her advice about the flab.

We CAN do this! *fist bump*
#9 - May 20, 2013, 07:28 PM

I have given talks on one-page synopses and my best advice is to think of the synopsis as an advertisement for your book, similar to a back blurb on a book. Then imagine you're telling just the high points of your story to a friend and you want to make it sound interesting. Unlike a back blurb, though, be sure to give a satisfying idea of how it ends. Good luck!

I agree with this completely. I actually love writing synopses because they help me really get the focus of the book. Mine are always one page. This is just MY recipe, not the only way to do it: The first paragraph introduces the main character and what s/he wants (desire). The next three or so paragraphs focus on what s/he does to get it and how it gets messed up (conflict/main plot points). The final paragraph is the resolution.

Good luck!
Kelly
#10 - May 22, 2013, 11:43 AM
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Nicola Morgan wrote a very helpful (imho) book, WRITE A GREAT SYNOPSIS, that I highly recommend. I've used her advice to write a synopsis that does what LindaJoy suggests--makes it sound like an advertisement. My synop was oodles better using Morgan's technique than it was when I tried before with the write-one-sentence-about-each-chapter approach. It helps to really hit the highlights and avoid the unnecessary detail.

Good luck!
Alison
#11 - May 22, 2013, 11:58 AM
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There are good links online. Here's one from Pub Crawl: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/


Thank you so much for this link mrh, it was so incredibly helpful.
#12 - May 22, 2013, 12:27 PM
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Glad it helped, Tyson! :)
#13 - May 22, 2013, 03:54 PM
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Kelly- You LIKE writing synopsis? *checks Kelly's forehead for possible fever*
#14 - May 22, 2013, 06:11 PM
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Glad to know I'm not alone in this boat right now, JennaWren & SarahE! Misery likes company, eh? Thanks again everyone! You've been very very helpful. And I'm w/you, Christy- someone get that girl a thermometer!  :grin3
#15 - May 23, 2013, 05:17 AM

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I confess, I enjoy writing  synopses, too.  I even created a template and tips for a workshop I've given at SCBWI conferences. I'd love to give it a more conferences.
#16 - May 23, 2013, 07:24 AM
Author of SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB & in 2016: CA$H KAT
www.LindaJoySingleton.com
twitter.com/LindaJoySinglet

Nicola Morgan wrote a very helpful (imho) book, WRITE A GREAT SYNOPSIS, that I highly recommend.

Thrilled to see another Blueboarder who's a fan of Nicola Morgan! Yay Alison! and NM's advice on synopsi is fabbity. Her website is also hugely helpful. Def worth checking out. Here's the link:

http://www.helpineedapublisher.blogspot.ca/

Good luck Leandra! I've just worked for 2 weeks on my one page synopsis and I am not good at it. Not at all. Recovering from the effort is gonna take another 2 weeks and lots of candy ...  :ha

#17 - May 23, 2013, 08:18 AM
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 :lol I'm polishing off a thing of mini M&M's as I type this! And my synopsis is waiting under another tab for me to take another stab at it...
#18 - May 23, 2013, 08:24 AM
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 08:26 AM by Leandra »

Kelly- You LIKE writing synopsis? *checks Kelly's forehead for possible fever*

 :haha  No fever, but that doesn't mean I'm OK. They just help me get a handle on what's important in my books. Otherwise, I tend to ramble and rabbit trail. (I do this a lot. Just ask my kids.)
#19 - May 23, 2013, 02:15 PM
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So the synopsis.... It's like this  :banghead over  :banghead and over  :banghead again! *sniffles...* Me no wanna write synopsis EVER again!
#20 - May 28, 2013, 12:45 PM

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So the synopsis.... It's like this  :banghead over  :banghead and over  :banghead again! *sniffles...* Me no wanna write synopsis EVER again!
:werd
Instead of finishing my synopsis, could I just mail an agent my still-beating heart? 'Cause it would be about the same amount of pain, and would be a lot faster.

That wouldn't be weird, right?
#21 - May 28, 2013, 03:28 PM
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Do you guys take your synopses to your critique group? I do, and it really helps.
#22 - May 28, 2013, 05:03 PM
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dewsanddamps- Sounds like a fair trade to me!  ;D

mrh- I wish I had a critique group... Like a real live one where we could meet once a month and talk face to face- that'd be so fun! Course who am I kidding, I wouldn't have time for one!  :P
#23 - May 29, 2013, 06:06 AM

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 :bighelp

In the wrestling writing of my synopsis, I've come across another question. If you have an epilogue, do you include what happens in it in the synopsis as well? Or do you just end when the last chapter ends?

Thanks!
#24 - June 28, 2013, 02:49 PM

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I included the epilogue in my latest book that was sent to my editor. But I didn't say it was the epilogue, it was just the last sentence in the synopsis. I think it could also depend on your epilogue and if it's a necessary plot point. For me it was so I included it.
#25 - June 29, 2013, 06:20 AM
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 :thankyou That's what I needed to know!
#26 - June 29, 2013, 07:44 AM

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Excellent! Good luck.
#27 - June 29, 2013, 08:05 AM
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In a synopsis do you say how the character changed and grew?
#28 - July 27, 2013, 09:42 PM

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It should be evident by the events in the story but yes, the internal character arc should be evident in some way.
#29 - August 01, 2013, 01:01 PM
The GILDED series (Skyscape/ACP)
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