Synopsizing

Synopsis [si-nop-sis] a brief or condensed statement giving a general view of some subject.

Apparently Webster hasn’t met me.

Let’s go with this one instead:

Synopsis [si-nop-sis] a brief summary of the plot of a novel, motion picture, play, etc.

That’s more like it.

*****

An interesting tidbit I picked up during my Weekend of Fabulousness is that it’s much easier to write a synopsis for a book that has yet to be written. It sounded crazy to me at the time, but I’m here to tell you that it’s true.

Think about it. You’re making up the story as you go along — very much like writing an actual book, just much much shorter. There are no pesky details to muddle up the flow. Minor characters don’t exist so they don’t clamor for attention in your 1-2 page single spaced file. All that’s included is the guts of the book.

I wrote the synopsis for book two this week, and while it still needs a bit of polishing (anyone have a spare tub of elbow grease?), it was leaps and bounds easier than the others I’ve written. Including the synopsis for book one. I cobbled that together, much to the amusement of my minor characters who fought to be mentioned, the subplots that scoffed at not being included, and the dance — THE DANCE — let’s just say it’s pissed I didn’t ask it to… well, dance.

Next up is the synopsis for book three.

If you’re wondering why I’m writing synopses for books I haven’t yet written, considering I don’t have an agent or book deal or anything, it’s because I’d like to have outlines ready to go for the entire trilogy when I query book one. I know you’re only supposed to mention one book per query, but it is permissible to mention if a book is part of a series, and I figure I’ll increase my odds if I already have those materials ready to go.

I’ve also finally added an explanation of Flicker to the writing page of my website. Go take a peek if you’re curious…

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.

13 Comments

  1. Interesting. I’m planning a series, too, and just finished writing my bible for book one. I didn’t write my first book this way, but I need the organization here (with a series) to keep everything straight.

    I already know where I want to go in book 2, so I’ll start working on that bible as ideas come to me.

    My first unrelated book, now in the querying stage, was written on the fly, with no thought or plan, and it seems to have worked out okay. But I think I’ll prefer being an organized writer.

    • I didn’t plot for my first novel, although I did know more or less what would happen. I’ve outlined the second two and the story flows so easily I don’t know if I’d ever do it another way.

      I have a bible of sorts, but it’s not very formal. Just notes on people’s names, etc.

      (and thanks!)

  2. I’m writing a synopsis for my WIP now — and I’ve written only 5000 words of the novel itself. I wanted the story “out” before I continued. Taking an online workshop that is helping tremendously. I will say that with my novel that’s on submission – every time an agent asked for a synopsis – I had a subsequent request for pages. So while I didn’t send more than 10 of them — I see the real value in a kicka$$ synopsis.

    Go, Melanie!!!

    • Amy, I think I’ll definitely do this from now on. I’m a strong believer in outlining, and this is just organizing that a little bit more.

      That’s so awesome your novel is on submission! Good luck!

  3. Allen

    I thought this is what everyone did. Do some of you really write the synopsis after writing the story? I think this would be confusing.

    I write a short two page story first. When the full version is done, all I have to do is condense it to one page. The two page story lets me follow a road map to the end. I don’t wander off into another story that way. I seem to have a bit of ADD and I can wander… oh look! A bird.

  4. Hey! I am writing a trilogy too! “Twins!”

    I haven’t even thought about a synop. yet. Although I do have a one page outline of my current WIP. Maybe I could just scan that and turn it in. 😉

    Something interesting I recently read: When the writers for ‘Alien’ submitted their script, they simply said it was “Jaws in space.” It was the hook that got them the deal.

    Good luck with yours!

  5. ab

    It’s great that you already know it’s going to be a series. With each book in Val’s series that I wrote – I thought that was it. It was usually a women’s fiction later that I decided to go back to it after some idea slammed me in the face. I said I’m done at 8…but last night an idea hit me for it – moving it from MG to YA. *sigh* We’ll see if anything become of it. Damn muse. 😉

  6. Writing an author bio nearly drove me to insanity, so writing a synopsis will most likely give me a major psychotic break – I sympathize. There is nothing more aggravating than trying to find the perfect handful of words to encapsulate so much…

    • I’m not particularly fond of my bio, but it is what it is. I like my twitter bio, so maybe I can just use that and be done with it: a salsa-dancing graphic designer writing her way to publication. 🙂

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