I recently had to condense my 118,000 word manuscript down to a one page synopsis. I am happy with what I came up with, and hopefully the publisher I submitted it to is as well. So for today’s Writing Tip Wednesday I am going to share with you how I did it:
I followed Susan Dennard formula which you can find at http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/
This is the best formula I could find on writing a one page synopsis. Not only does she give you a brilliant formula, she also gives you an example of how it is done – she breaks the Star Wars film down to a page. It is worth the look if you are currently attempting, or are about to attempt your synopsis.
Susan also shares three MUSTS when writing a synopsis:
Rule of thumb: You should only name three characters in a short synopsis – usually, the protagonist, antagonist, and possible love interest/side-kick/contagonist. All other characters should be referred to by their roles (e.g. the waitress, the mother, the basketball player).
Rule of thumb: You must tell the ending! The purpose of a synopsis is to show an editor/agent you can tell a story from beginning to end. You will not entice them into reading your whole MS if you don’t share the ending – you’ll just tick them off!
Rule of thumb: Do not include subplots unless you have extra space at the end!!!!! Stick to the MAIN PLOT EVENTS.
Some Publishers or agents may not even want a one page synopsis – they may ask you to summarise your story in 300 words or less, or even two sentences, which was the case with the publisher I just sent my manuscript to (They also wanted a one page synopsis). In some ways this is easier than the one page synopsis because it forces you to narrow your story down to its essence.
To help you see what a two sentence pitch looks like, I’ll give you the two examples the Ampersand Project gave:
1) Romeo and Juliet’s families are sworn enemies and Juliet is promised to another man. But they know they’re soulmates and, one way or another, they’re determined to be together.
2) In a dystopian future, a group of teenagers fight to the death in a gladiator-style tournament for the world’s entertainment. Will Katniss Everdeen survive this sinister twist on Big Brother?
Obviously the first one is Romeo and Juliet, and the second is the Hunger Games.
No matter if it’s one page or two sentences, the agent, or publisher, or editor is going to want some sort of summary of your Novel, so It’s a good idea to start practising. It is meant to hook the agent/Publsiher and get them to read your manuscript, so it is a necessary evil we writers need to learn to master. Thank goodness there are writers out there who have done it successfully and are willing to share their wisdom.