1. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Synopsis, help me!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by S-wo, Jun 22, 2009.

    I'm having a bit of concern here on synopsis. A publisher company called Fletcher & Company asks for a brief synopsis in their submission guidelines. I'm unsure exactly what's considered brief. i think it might be one page and if it is i'm haivng a hard time trying to sum up my whole book in one page, because I think it might be impossible to write a good one if it has to include all the stuff I hear from resources that a synopsis should include.

    1. A brief detailing about all the major events that happen in your story
    2. Make sure to include all main characters.

    It would seem to be quite difficult just trying to fit in those two on a single page, especially considering that i have eight main characters.
     
  2. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    I think pretty much just the plot and any small comments you need. Make it as long as you need but as short as possible, and tell them you can give them more if they want.

    Good luck, Nate
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    S-wo,

    A synopsis should be as short as possible, and a brief one no longer than a page if at all possible.

    Writing a brief synopsis difficult but not impossible to accomplish.

    I'd suggest to go ahead and write your synopsis. Be as brief and direct as you can while working to keep the flavor and action of the novel intact. It will probably end up well over one page in length.

    Then, have individuals who have read your manuscript (friends, crit partners) read your synopsis. They will have a different perspective on what was important in the story, and what can be cut or trimmed from the synopsis and still keep the heart of the story there. As an author, you may be too close for a fully objective view.

    Then have a well-read person (or two) who hasn’t read your manuscript, read the synopsis take a look at it and see if it makes sense, and what needs to be added and/or what can be removed.

    In the synopsis you want to include the setting, main characters, the conflict and what's at stake, and the result. Subplots, depth/details of characterization and all that don't take center stage in a synopsis.

    Eight 'main' characters...what you may have to do is boil it down to the ones that everything revolves around. Who is at the center of the action?

    Maybe if you create what would be called a pitch, a 15 or 20 second verbal description of what your novel is about, that might help you focus on what is at the core, most important and to be included in the synopsis. Or the teaser that you would imagine being on the back cover of the novel--how would that read? Or boiled down, what is the theme of your novel.

    Reducing a 100,000 word novel down to a one page synopsis is not easy, that is for sure.

    Good luck,

    Terry
     
  4. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    I don't really have anyone who has read my manuscript. I have one friendd who has read like only a piece and my family just about the same. I try to get them to read more, but they don't ever do. I feel like they think it's a bother of their time. I had a teacher read a previous synopsis of mine, she didn't leave any opinion though just pointed out grammatical errors.

    I'll just have to work it out though through the whole 146,000 words and did you say it is supposed to be only one page?
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, one page single spaced if you can at all manage it.

    You will find sources on the internet that say between 1 and 5 pages. Some will say 1 page for every 25 manuscript pages, but I think one is best. Remember, whoever is going to read your query has a huge stack in front of them. You want to be brief and to the point. And since the group you intend to query request a 'brief synopsis' in the guidelines, then it appears a single page should be your goal.

    Terry
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    S-wo,

    If you don't mind, I'll comment on what you've said above.

    It is not uncommon for writers to have family and friends fail to actively read a writer's work. Even, say you complete a novel and ask a dozen people to read and given an opinion, if you're lucky half will agree, and then half of those that do agree will actually follow through. It's just the way it is.

    Remember, nobody--not your wife, your twin brother, your agent or your editor (if you have one or both) will care as much about your writing as you do.

    Your best bet may be to try and find a crit group, either local or online to work with. You can check local libraries, book stores, universities or community colleges, even some coffee shops to see if any are around. You could even attempt to organize one. I think face to face crit groups are better, but if that isn't an option, seek online ones.

    I wrote an article that may be of some assistance in this area to get you started: Five Considerations Before Joining a Crit Group.

    Beyond that, your teacher may not have had a comment other than fixing grammar because most English teachers, even if they know technically what a novel synopsis is, don't know exactly what one should contain, how long one should be, that it should be written in present tense, etc. Unless the teacher graduated with a degree in creative writing (unlikely as that course work/major usually doesn't lead to a teaching license/degree), or has looked into writing and submitting novels, they simply don't know what a novel synopsis contains.

    Sure, the teacher knows what a synopsis is, but it's like they know the rules and strategies for coaching softball as opposed to baseball. While close, they're different animals.

    Just a few thoughts I thought I'd share for what they're worth.

    Terry
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If you're really having trouble with it, try to reduce it to one sentence, one idea - the story of blah blah who blah blah blah....once you've decided what the main point is, just expand on the specific aspects of the story that relate to that - including sub-plots and side-stories (if you have them) probably isn't necessary.

    On another note, 146k words is massive...well beyond the general standard for first-time writers...
     
  8. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    I noticed one thing that you didn't mention in your article Terry is the possibility of others stealing your work. Everyone is a stranger in that group and you don't exactly what they have plotting. It is especially easy to steal work on the internet. My book has about 95% of the grammatical and spelling errors edited and taken care of already so it could be easy for the person to steal and get published if they have the connections.

    I guess I'll just try my best somehow to reduce it to a single page.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How would that happen, S-wo? If you posted enough of your book on the Internet for someone to steal, you wouldn't be able to sell it to a publisher. No one wiill be recreating your work from a synopsis.

    I presume you are keeping copies of your early drafts as well. If you discovered a stolen copy of your writing, you could file for copyright and then take them to court, armed with your early drafts. If you sent them a copy of the manuscript to look over, you would hopefully have a record of the correspondences leading to that as well.

    For an online crit group, there is still no need to deliver a complete manuscript. Never give out a complete manuscript to anyone you don't know and trust completely without documentation in your possession that the work is yours. That would be like handing a bundle of cash to a stranger without getting a receipt.

    It really isn't that easy to steal a saleable work, unless you have already shot yourself in the foot.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    S-wo,

    I didn't mention it because in truth, it is very very very rare for someone to have a manuscript stolen.

    If you join a group where your peers are about at the same level of writing ability/acomplishment as you, what value is there in them trying to market your work, and then incur the legal risks that would ruin their career before it even started? Contracts protect the publisher, so an author who legitimately cannot claim the work as their own, are on their own.

    If the writers are more accomplished than you, what is the benefit of them stealing your work when they could create their own?

    If you join a group where the writers are far inferior to you, a writer just starting out without any publishing history, what value is there in that group to you? One of those members would seem to be the only possible situation where one might be a candidate to steal your work and try to publish it in their own name. Again, it is an event that is virtually unheard of happening.

    Beyond that, when you join an online crit group or a face to face one, it is very unlikely that the process would involve you posting or photocopying your entire novel immedately upon joining to get feedback. Most have a rotation and limit for # of words in the thousands or chapter length for every week or two, or month.

    Cogito, with online crit groups, the work is (or should be) posted in a protected forum. One where only members (and the admin if one of the members isn't the admin of the site) of that particular crit group have access. It is a layer which the crit section/process at writerforums.org doesn't offer. Under those circumstances I have posted for crit entire short stories, for example.

    Crit groups are recognized by editors and agents as an important part in the writing process, and if a work (in part or full) is available only to the small circle of individuals, then there isn't any threat of first (electronic) rights being lost. Many successful writers are still members of writers groups, often again among peers.

    S-wo, if you feel so strongly that someone will steal your work, that's okay. But then you'll have to go it alone. Many writers have; it's just a far longer and more difficult road to travel. And if you do find a good group and join, there is no reason you have to share your entire novel. Even 1/5th of it being read by others can assist where your work needs improvement.

    Terry
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that isn't done, actually... the copyright is already in force, from the moment you complete a piece of work and it exists in a reproducible form...

    the only thing you might do after that is to 'register' the existing copyright with the library of congress... but that's not usually done for books, till you have a publisher and then they do it for you...

    and yes, 146k is way too big for any publisher to want to deal with...

    btw, fletcher & co. is not a book publisher... it's a literary agency... they are agents who will represent the book and shop it around to publishers, not publishers themselves...

    and as i read their guidelines, it seems they do want something really brief, so i'd keep it to one page... but the ms itself is way too huge for anyone to take on from a new and unknow writer, so i don't see you being ready to deal with agents or publishers yet... you'll need to cut that down by over a third, before it'll have any chance of selling as an first novel... fyi, the most-preferred size range is 80-100k...
     
  13. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    nah I've been working on this since forever fleshing the story with great detail making it the best as it can possibly be and I know mostly all future stories that I will write will be at that length or greater. I would be undoing all the hard work I achieved in all those years. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be the first to get published with a length like that and I don't care about negative possibilities I will achieve my goals.

    Just for another note. I guess I could find another teacher at my college to look over and review my synopsis even if the only feedback I'm getting is pure grammatical which is still help. Thank you for those links Salt.
     

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