Last week, a writer asked about a "brief synopsis"
I loathe synopses almost as much as writers do (they are the spawn of Satan on their best day)
They are, Satan notwithstanding, needed and useful.
Here's one of the very best descriptions of how to write a succinct synopsis. It's by blog reader Dena Pawling, who has graciously allowed me to repost this here (it was originally a comment on this post)
I wrote out everything that happens in my manuscript, chapter by
chapter, and then deleted words until I was left with only the major
plot points and enough flavor to give the emotion of the story. My
finished synopsis is about 825 words, which is 2-1/2 pages double
Here's an example of a shorter synopsis, from a story we
all should know, which I just dashed off so I'm sure it can be improved.
Total word count 250 [without the qualifiers].
Cinderella lives with her parents, who love her. Her mother dies, and
her father marries a jealous lady with two beastly daughters. [set-up]
her father then dies, Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters treat her
as a slave. She's moved to an attic bedroom and her only friends are
the mice. Her home falls into disrepair because the family has little
money left. She dreams one day someone will love her again. [inciting
incident and goal]
Meanwhile, the king wants his son to be
married so he can see his grandchildren before he dies. The king
decrees a royal ball, with every eligible maiden in the kingdom required
to attend. [first plot point]
Everyone is excited. Cinderella,
with the help of her mouse friends, re-makes her mother's old gown into a
beautiful dress. But her stepmother and stepsisters destroy the dress
so she won't be able to attend. Cinderella runs out into the garden and
Her fairy godmother appears and makes her a
magical dress, complete with glass slippers and a coach. Cinderella
attends the royal ball and dances with the prince. They fall in love.
At the stroke of midnight, she dashes away before the spell is broken.
One glass slipper falls off, but she arrives home with the other one,
which she hides. [third plot point]
The heartbroken prince
travels the kingdom to determine which lady fits the glass slipper. Her
stepmother locks Cinderella in the attic [black moment] but her mouse
friends help her escape [climax]. The glass slipper fits her, and
Cinderella and the prince live happily ever after. [resolution]