Saturday, August 16, 2014

query question: more on the dreaded synopsis

When writing a synopsis and trying to distill 85K words into a meager 750, I feel like I have to leave out so much (subplots, minor characters) that it hardly feels representative of the same manuscript.

My question is, will an agent count as a strike against when reading a full that so much is missing? For example, 20% of my current manuscript is told from a particular character's POV. But there's just not enough room in the synopsis to even mention this character, so I've summed up that storyline as if from the main character's POV. Feels like cheating, or am I being paranoid? 

For starters you don't write a synopsis from any one's point of view. Synopsis are always in the objective third person. You list the main events of the book and the main characters and the main plot twists.

For example: In Gone With the Wind you obviously have three time periods: before the war, the War, after the war.

In the book there is a long section about how Gerald O'Hara came to America from Ireland and won the hand of Ellen Robillard.  This is in the before the war section of course.

As important as that is to the woop and warf of the book, you leave it out of the synopsis because GWTW is mainly the story of their first born daughter Katie Scarlett.

The movie version leaves out all of SueEllen's story with Will, the man who comes to Tara after the war.  You'd leave that out of the synopsis as well.

A synopsis isn't intended to be a miniature replica of the book as a whole.

Instead, it's more like the interior support of the building.  It's what holds the novel together
and gives it shape and form.

This is the synopsis:

This is the query:

This is the book:


AJ Blythe said...

Love the visuals. Makes it so clear. Thanks, Ms Shark.

(Weird, had an advert instead of capture code, took a few goes to post this)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Where'd you find a picture of my little shack in the woods?

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

The description was helpful, the photo illuystration brilliant! COnveyed everything. And to the copy editing Anastasia – depends on the style. Aug. 12 is correct in my book (literally, my AP Stylebook. And
the comma is a matter of taste.)

Ardenwolfe said...

Loved the way you answered this.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Suuuuch helpful images in defining the various tasks. Since I'm still focused on perfecting (sigh) my query, I really appreciate the inviting/enticing door.

DLM said...

Good metaphor, but I will never feel confident building a load-bearing wall! :)

Unknown said...

I love the analogy, Mrs. Shark. The visual representation and symbolism you used was clever.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

My synopsis folder is even labeled "The Dreaded Synopsis". And I'm sure the one I banged out for my current singular novel submission is....bad. I haven't looked at it again. I'm afeared.

Also, I do dearly love Gone With the Wind. I first read it in seventh grade, which made it super cool to read The Outsiders in eight grade and know what they were talking about when Ponyboy and Johnny were at the church. My paperback even had the same cover as the one they read in the movie.

Unknown said...

LOVE the tectonic photo analogy! Thank you!

WD PLANTE said...

What a teacher.

Anonymous said...

Being as I'm a visual person, the pictures work great!

Tam Francis said...

Thank you for the awesome visuals! that was perfect!