1. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    What makes a synopsis pop?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GoldenFeather, May 21, 2014.

    I'm self-publishing my first book next month. It falls under the psychology/medical fiction genre.

    My question to you guys is, what kind of synopsis or description catches your attention for a book of this genre? I need to create a short description that readers will see when deciding whether or not to purchase my book (it will be an e-book for now). I like to keep it short and simple, but I'm afraid that might make it too plain.

    "Trichotillomania is a medical mystery that is the inexplicable urge to pull out one's own hair. Delylah is a Trichster, and this is a secret she has kept ever since she began tugging the lashes from her eyes at the tender age of 9. Now, 23, she has developed methods to conceal this addiction. This is her story."

    It seems incomplete to me. Any advice would be extremely helpful! Thank you!
     
  2. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    A.) I'm VERY interested on how this book plays out...
    B.) What is Trichster??

    Okay, now to my helping you with this (hopefully). You've just got to mix it up to make it more interesting. There's no science to it.



    How about....

    I kinda winged it, but it seems ~~better~~ to me.
     
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  3. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    So she has a named condition and has found ways to keep it secret. Truly, that's all you are telling me, and it's not enough to provoke a reaction.

    How would I deal with having no eyelashes? I'd wear false ones. Big deal. If she pulls her head hair, she might wear a wig, and if she does it to her armpit hair so much the better, no waxing.

    I don't mean to be facetious... really I don't, but can you see what I'm getting at? Tell me something I don't know already, or couldn't possibly imagine. Tease me a little. Is the whole book centred around her condition, her coping strategies, CBT if she attends it... is there anything you can tease out that might help capture the spirit of the story a little more? As it stands, despite having an interest in impulse control disorders, having one myself, I'm very wary of books that make the person the sum of their condition, and unfortunately that is how you are painting her here. I think I'd rather know that she has a secret without doing the medical jargon. The book will be in the right section so that will be most likely assumed. I'm not saying for a moment that is how you've written the character, but it's kinda got me a little worried and my alarm bells are going off.
     
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  4. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    We're looking at the synopsis, there could be more to it than what's posted. I can say that the synopsis for my unfinished manuscript barely touches the surface of my work, although this synopsis is a little empty. More info on the book would make it better.
     
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  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @Ulramar

    A nick for someone with the condition.

    I have bipolar disorder... I'm a Beeper. ;)
     
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  6. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah keep that out of the synopsis. I want to hear more about the plot, not the terminology. Terms won't make me pick the book, action will.
     
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  7. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I actually wondered about that, whether it would be as apparent to others as it was to me. I picked up on it immediately, but then again, I would. I've known a few.
     
  8. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh I assumed it was, but I wasn't sure. Even more to the point, if it's a word that isn't well known (the name of the condition you can get away with), it's going to push the potential reader away, not draw them in.
     
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  9. GoldenFeather
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    Wow this is such great advice you guys! Thank you!

    @obsidian_cicatrix

    I really appreciate your honesty, and I understand completely where you are coming from. I'm a hair-puller myself, but I never realized that perhaps I am summing up my character to just this condition in my synopsis. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    The story does somewhat centre around her condition but not because she IS her condition. I want to show how much this condition affects her thinking. So in HER mind, she is nothing more than a Trichster. But then again, that's the character and not the overall story.

    I've taken into account all of your suggestions and made a lengthier synopsis.

    "Delylah has the inexplicable urge to pull out her hair, and this is a secret she has kept ever since she began tugging the lashes from her eyes at the tender age of 9. Now, 23, she has developed methods to conceal this addiction and, for fear of stigmatization, avoid relationships altogether. But when she moves in with a new roommate, Clair, her secret becomes more and more difficult to hide. A potential love interest is unwelcome as Delylah is unable to commit after her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend. Plagued by her shame, Delylah's life begins to unravel and unbeknownst to her, she is about to face the worst."
     
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  10. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Although, @Ulramar suggests chucking it, it's occurs to me that it's actually one of the more interesting bits in the synopsis. Are 'normal' folks even really aware that the various subsections of mental health carry their own nicks, and often refer to themselves by them?

    I actually think it could be used as a draw, in fact... I think that's how I'd go about it. If she, herself holds a secret... why blab in in the synopsis? Play on the mystery of the nick, perhaps?

    EDIT: Posted in relation to original post.
     
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  11. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    That's starting to appeal more already. :D
     
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  12. GoldenFeather
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    Perhaps, but from page one we know exactly what her condition is, so there's really no point in hiding it. The book isn't an introduction to the condition. From Chapter One its ABOUT the hair-pulling, so I find there is no harm in mentioning it in the synopsis.
     
  13. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah the new synopsis is MUCH better. If you include the "Trichster" part, explain what that is a bit. I'm sitting there going, "Huh?"
     
  14. GoldenFeather
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    Yes, I didn't realize that before. I suppose because I'm so familiar with the term that I didn't realize it might throw others off. The title of the book itself is Trichster, so I don't think there is a point in explaining it in the synopsis also.
     
  15. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, that would heave cleared it up a bit. I'm interested though. I have a physical condition and that affects me in a way, but I'm interested in how mental conditions affect people. I'll be looking into it when it's published.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    This is good as synopses go, but you'll find a lot of sources recommending they be even shorter.

    It's better than your shorter one in that it has more story, now see if you can tease out the most important parts.

    I'm just starting to work on this whole business of synopsis, query letters, log lines and I'm finding it is a whole new skill I need to perfect. The idea is to be intriguing, not necessarily to tell a summary of the book.

    If you could only write one sentence about the book, what would it be?
     
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  17. jazzabel
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    That's all I got.
     
  18. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I see... but that is kinda making the assumption that people will go... oh, she pulls out her hair...wow! I must read this. Again, not being facetious. ;)

    Even though you cut to the chase immediately in your book, you still need to entice. Even though Trichster is the title, we can assume many will not know the context, or what it means, as we do... it could be a holiday home on the Isle of Wight.

    I'm not hot of the use of the word stigmatisation. It's clumsy an stands out like a sore thumb... that is something that I don't think the reader needs to be aware of from the off. I'm sure you cover that aspect with aplomb in the book itself.

    Ok... this is just a quick shear, trying to tighten it up a bit., off the top of my head. I think it incorporates pretty much what you need to have her viewed as a three dimensional character, without denying her condition is a very big part of who she is.

    "Delylah is a Trichster, a secret she has kept ever since she began tugging the lashes from her eyes at the tender age of 9. Now, 23, she conceals this addiction for fear of what people might think. But when she moves in with Clair, a new roomate, her secret becomes more and more difficult to hide. A potential love interest is unwelcome as Delylah is unable to commit. Her past haunts her. Plagued by shame, Delylah's life begins to unravel and unbeknownst to her, she is about to face the worst."

    I get this. I'm a Beeper, through and through but I try not to let it define me, nonetheless. I think the synopsis does need a lighter hand to initially draw readers in. Otherwise your readership will be the mentally challenged, such as ourselves, and those with a particular interest in the subject matter. By opening up the synopsis a bit you'll cast the net wider.
     
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  19. GoldenFeather
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    This is true, shorter is often better. Hmmm... one sentence. That's a toughy.

    Afflicted with urges to pull out her own hair, Delylah struggles to conceal her unusual addiction while trying to overcome her fear of stigmatization and stop isolating herself both from society and relationships.

    Oh man, that took like 5 minutes lol
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    That is much better!

    My question reading thus far is to ask, how central is the hair pulling disorder to the story? Is the story about a girl with an illness that affects her life and her self esteem? Or does the story focus on this particular illness and its effects on sufferers?

    And it would seem in this last go that you've answered my question. :)
     
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  21. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Sometimes someone just needs to ask you the right question. ;)
     
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  22. GoldenFeather
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    Yes, you're absolutely right. Although my target audience is people who are somewhat familiar with mental illness (although I don't consider Trichotillomania an illness, just a struggle or a condition of sorts) you're right, casting a wider net would not only be beneficial in terms of readership, but it would also help spread the word.

    At the same time, I don't want it to be some generic pop fiction novel that seems light and easy. You know what I mean? I do want some seriousness conveyed as well.
     
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  23. GingerCoffee
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    You could add "chronic urges" to make it clear it's a disorder and not just a metaphor.
     
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  24. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Oh, I understand. I think I suffer from the reverse. I've been really cringing at some of the portrayals I've seen of those with bipolar recently. Do a bit of research folks, for goodness sake! We are not all completely OTT and psychotic all the time. :D
     
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  25. Ulramar
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    But it probably makes for better writing if they are psychotic and OTT
     

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