Fiction - Writing the Synopsis


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A synopsis is an abridgment, an outline or a short presentation of any written work. A synopsis is necessary to tell an editor what the book is about and if its progression is reasonable. In some cases, an outline for a written-to-be work can aid the synopsis later. In other words, while the writer is outlining the plot, he may also be writing the synopsis.

From the start, it is a good idea to keep a notebook next to the computer or have notepad open on the computer for planning purposes. The synopsis is usually written from the omniscient point of view and in present tense, but I like to write the pre-planned version of the story from any one of the characters point of view. Later, when it comes to writing the real synopsis, this point of view can be changed very easily.

If your book is finished and you are writing the synopsis:

In the first paragraph, introduce the theme or the general idea behind the story.

Next, in a paragraph or paragraphs introduce the protagonist or the protagonists. Tell who he is or who they are, and what is it that they are so passionately after, and why.

Then, write the details of the main story. If there is a secondary plotline, write it, too, but if only it has an effect on the main story. Here how the protagonist makes mistakes or what happens to him that he makes the mistakes and then what brings on the correction and the internal change in the protagonist, if it happens before the dark hour-the worst thing that can happen to the protagonist in the story-are the basic points to consider.

Afterwards, write the dark hour when everything seems lost. If the internal change happens here, indicate it.

Next comes the resolution of the story’s conflict. Is the protagonist rewarded? If not, how does he leave the scene?

Here the basic synopsis is finished. Now go over what you have written. Make sure for every statement you made, you gave a good reason. Check out the tone of your synopsis. Does it match the book’s tone? If the tone of the book is light, the tone of the synopsis should be light, too, and if the tone of the writing is dark or serious, the synopsis should match that.

If you have made an outline for the story before writing it and you have stayed loyal to that outline, the outline should help with the main points of the synopsis. If not, it may be a good point to change your story outline while you are writing the story, so the synopsis will be easier to handle.

The actual synopsis format should be typed in traditionally accepted fonts such as Courier, Arial, or Times New Roman. On the upper left hand of each page should be “Synopsis of #title of the book#" by #author’s name# and #the word count#.

A one page synopsis can be single spaced with indented paragraphs. The rule of the thumb is: with detailed synopses, the accepted practice is one double-spaced page of synopsis for each 10,000 words. Thus, if the writer has 30,000 words in his work, he would have a three page synopsis.

To sum it up, keeping the synopsis short, to the point, and in respectable form attracts the attention of the editors.

Joy Cagil is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Fiction Writing . Joy Cagil’s education is in linguistics.


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