1. JCKey618
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    JCKey618 Member

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    Writing the Synopsis: Questions

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by JCKey618, Aug 30, 2010.

    I am writing my synopsis today to go out along with my snail mail query letters tomorrow. I may be asking more questions as they come up, so I thought I'd use an encompassing title.

    For now, my question is: what to do with prologues? My horror novel starts with a very short prologue (3 pages). To make a long story short, the novel is about 4 spirits who are haunting the main character and the prologue briefly describes one of their deaths. How should I incorporate this in to the synopsis, since the prologue characters (only two--the victim and the killer), settings, and tone are different from chapter 1 when we follow our happy-go-lucky protagonist?

    If my example is too confusing, consider this one. I just read a novel where the story is about a pre-historic shark surviving, hidden, till today and wreaking havoc. The prologue takes place millions of years ago where the shark hunts down, kills, and devours a T-Rex. The first chapter goes to our main character in present day.

    How would this be handled in a synopsis?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The entire synopsis of the story has to fit on a single page along with the rest of the query. How much impact will those three pages have on the synopsis?

    (While I'm at it, is the prologue even necessary? More often than not, removing the prologue is an improvement.)
     
  3. JCKey618
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    JCKey618 Member

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    I figured that this would be a question someone would ask (is the prologue necessary), and I have asked this question myself, knowing how people feel about them. I am confident that I want it in the story and may make the decision later to cut it, but until that choice I want to include it in the synopsis in the correct way.

    Also, to be clear, this synopsis is separate from the query. I have made a database of all the agents I've found so far who are selling in my genre with their preferences and guidelines, and some request that a synopsis is sent along with the query letter. For the record, the prologue isn't mentioned in the mini-synopsis/summary found in the body of the actual query letter.
     
  4. JCKey618
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    JCKey618 Member

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    I might have worked this out myself. Reading other synopses, I see that main character descriptions often come at the same time, whereas in a novel you spread them out (for example, my main character used to be an aspiring actor in Hollywood, and that plays heavily in to his quirkiness. I gradually show this throughout the book, whereas in the synopsis I would include this description in first introducing him). Since my prologue is, at its core, a description of one of the spirits haunting my main character, maybe I can just include that later in the synopsis when the main character is fully introduced to the background of all four ghosts.

    Make sense? Thoughts?
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is difficult to give advice on how to write a synopsis--what to include and not include, without having read the novel.

    Comparing your synopsis to other successful efforts is a good way to get a feel for what to include and what not to include. I'm not sure it's a one night project (hinted at working on today to send out with queries the next day in the OP).

    Here's an article I wrote on writing a synopsis that may assist you (or maybe not): Writing a Novel Synopsis

    Good luck and hope you find the agent represenation (and/or publisher) you're seeking.

    Terry
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a synopsis is simply a laying out of the storyline/plot's main elements in narrative form, doesn't specify what's in the prologue and what in the following chapters...

    and a short [1-2 pg] synopsis doesn't contain every single part of the story anyway, so why are you stressing out over the prologue?...
     

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