Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Holy Hating This Synopsis Thing, Batman!

I've never heard any writer praise the wonders and thrills of writing a synopsis. I've heard: "I don't do it. If my agent/publisher/editor wants a synopsis they can make one up of their own."
"I just copy down my original outline and call it good." and
"I copied my opening paragraph from my query letter and called it the synopsis."
We're writers, boys and girls. Why do we hate this kind of writing?
For me personally...Its because writing a synopsis involves taking everything beautiful I know about creating with words and then grinds it up into mashed compost. There is no specific length or word count. There is no dialogue, setting descriptions, internal development of your characters, or emotional journey in the read.
Okay...That's a stretch. A good synopsis has an arc, a plot, and a resolution. Its just tricky figuring out how to get there.
Here's some good advice about the basics I learned from other writers,, editors, and good ol' trial and error.
-What is a synopsis?
A synopsis is a short narrative arc describing the major happenings in your story from beginning to end. It includes your relevant plot points, The conflicts between setting, character, and stakes, the emotional arc of your characters, the impact of the plot on the characters and the resolution of the conflict. 
-What are the basics? Because synopsis differ from genre to genre as well as agent or publisher, or editor it is difficult to know how to impress the one individual your querying. Try these suggestions though:
-Tell what happens in an energetic, compelling way
• Use active voice, not passive
• Use third person, present tense
• Clarity, clarity, clarity
• Less is more
4 things you must accomplish, no exceptions
1. Give a clear idea of your book’s core conflict
2. Show what characters we’ll care about, including the ones we’ll hate
3. Demonstrate what’s at stake for the main character(s)
4. Show how the conflict is resolved
your Synopsis must include your plot. As the plot proceeds through a sequence of events it touches on several basic stages. These include...
1. The inciting incident that gets things moving, sets the protagonist on course towards his goal, etc.
2. Event(s) which illustrate opposition to the
Story Goal.
3. The climax: the decisive event that determines whether the goal will be achieved.
4. The resolution or the aftermath of the climax, which illustrates whether or not the goal was achieved.

-How do I write It?Here's where it gets tricky. Some of this advice comes from writer Glen C. Strathy in which he suggests you cover plot, character, Conflict, and stakes by writing down the major plot points from your story on 3x5 cards and then putting them into four piles. Each pile representing The four points above. By the time you've done this though, you've got around 24 cards that must be organized, edited down, written out in a flowing narrative and cut down for clarity. Sounds as bad as the original problem of writing the synopsis, doesn't it?
Thanks to suggestions by Jane Freidman,and other bloggers  here's what helped me.
It is suggested you do this on 3x5 cards, so I'll explain in the card format:

1. The first card has the character description of the heroine. The second card has the character description of the hero. third card describes the opening scene, the set-up for the book.
The fourth one describes the most important scene before the midpoint of the book. 
 The fifth describes the crisis/climax/transition of the book--the midpoint. 
 The sixth describes the most important scene between the midpoint and the ending--usually the "dark moment.  The seventh describes the ending scene. 
list end

After you've done that, look over the cards. Have you omitted any crucial point? If so, add it to the back of the card. Do this for each of the cards if
you need to.

Now, put them in order. This is where you actually start writing your synopsis.

Take the 3rd card (the one with the opening scene) and flesh it out a little, TELLING the scene instead of showing it. When you first mention the characters,
describe them briefly (using the 1st and 2nd cards).

After you are done, get the fourth card (the most important scene before midpoint). Write only one paragraph (at most, two) to connect those scenes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These "connecting" paragraphs should tell what the motivations and emotions are that make the scene in the next card necessary.

Take out the fifth card (midpoint) and do the same--one or two paragraphs to connect the scenes.

Do the rest of the cards in the same way until you finish with the 7th card.

About Secondary Characters: Do not describe secondary characters or mention them unless they are crucial to the plot. For instance, if you have a heroine
who is escaping a stalker and that stalker is her cousin, mention him, since he is the villain and is crucial to the plot. However, if she has a cousin
with whom she stays for a month while she looks for an apartment, and this cousin doesn't do anything but allow her to stay with her or makes some commentary
on her life, don't bother to describe this cousin. It's enough to say that she's staying at her cousin's house while she's looking for her own place.
Don't forget to get a critique from another writer who knows your story and can catch plot holes, character weaknesses, and flat descriptions. Maybe it won't help you hate the synopsis less, but it can help you do a better job of writing one. For more help on the dreaded synopsis go to Writer's digest or google how to write a synopsis.

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