Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How I Write a Synopis

Just to be clear, this is about how I figured out how to write a synopsis. If any of this proves to be helpful to others, that would be very nice, but I don't expect it. I'm just sharing here.

I've read many articles about how to write a synopsis of a fiction novel. Some of the articles were good, some were bad, and most were just plain useless. The fact is, it just depends on the story. I realized, after reading so many articles, that no one could tell me how to write a synopsis, because it's my story, and mine alone.

I've also seen a lot of comments from writers saying how hard writing a synopsis can be. I don't claim to know any secrets, but I will share a few tricks and lessons I've learned for myself, that allowed me to finish writing the synopsis. In terms of the difficulty, I would be lying if I said this was easy. But I didn't find the intensity of the work to be any greater than writing a full novel. I do feel that if you can write a full novel, you can write a synopsis.

First and foremost, always write it using the same style as the manuscript. I've seen that advice in numerous articles but never understood what that meant before. A synopsis is just the abridged version of the manuscript. It's not essay writing, it's not journalism, it's not anything else but a shorter version of a fiction manuscript. It's still fiction, you see, just with less writing space than a full novel, that's all. And that's writing in the same style as the manuscript.

Second, decide what is needed in the synopsis and what isn't. I'm fortunate that my writing style focuses on making a complete circle, not only for the whole story, but also for each chapter. This allowed me to take the first and last sentence, then combine it in a simple paragraph. No more than one paragraph per chapter in the synopsis, and that worked out well for me.

Third, write from memory, not from the manuscript. This is a little trick I discovered by accident. As you know, my laptop died and I'm working on a desktop. I have a lot of files to transfer to the desktop, including the manuscript. I was eager to at least start the synopsis, so I wrote a rough draft from memory. I've since transferred the manuscript and made adjustments, but I found relying on memory only helped a lot to decide what wasn't needed - it was the stuff I couldn't remember off the top of my head ;)

Fourth, go back to the original outline. And some people will say outlines are useless, ha! If it weren't for the fact I wrote an outline in paragraph format before I ever wrote a word of the manuscript, I wouldn't know how to begin the synopsis. Since I already had the experience of summing up the content in simple paragraphs, this helped me greatly to start the synopsis.

So there you have it, how I learned to write a synopsis :)

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