Friday, September 24, 2010

Synopsis sisponys

Writing an original novel is hard, but writing the synopsis of said novel is even harder.  I mean, how should I condense a 140,000-word novel into a 2-page summary?

It was difficult to do when I wrote the synopsis of The Pacific Between, and that's a 75,000-word novel with a relatively straightforward plot. The WIP is bigger in scope, spanning over 50 years and three wars.

I realized the only way I could tackle this was via a chapter-by-chapter outline. During one of my rewrites, I wrote down a brief summary of the chapters. I skipped the details and aimed for the big plot elements. No room for nuances and themes. Just plot, and only the main one, not the subplots. And I focused only on a handful of characters, my two protagonists at the center.

That really helped. I ended up with a 3-page synopsis. Still too long for query purposes. I only need 2 pages, and then a one-paragraph summary, followed by a one-sentence "tagline." I read through the 3-page synopsis and went to town editing it, cutting out the fat and trimming all the unnecessary details, and combining related chapters into single paragraphs. And I did it. I successfully pared it down to just about 2 pages without losing the important plot elements.

Now, I need to come up with the 1-paragraph and 1-sentence.

Piece of cake, right?

Let me get back to you after I have a real piece of cake. I deserve a treat.


Melanie Hooyenga said...

You are my hero. I really need to write mine. NOW.

Ray Wong said...

Just do it.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I'm through chapter 8 of 33...

Ray Wong said...

That's a good start.

Inky said...

Very helpful. What helps too, after your book is published, is if you post said synopsis. This way, there's a visual sample.