More on Synopsizing

I had a great big DUH moment while working on my synopsis. Shirley Jump was kind enough to email me a handout she wrote about creating a query and synopsis from your plot notes. I read this passage and smacked my forehead:

A synopsis is a lot like a book report. It captures the highlights of your book and puts them into one document.


This is what I do all the time when I write book reviews. Once I looked at it that way I had an easier time. The one spot that has me hung up though is multiple viewpoints. I have a main story told in a few POVs and I’ve been able to get that summarized but I also have a subplot that eventually meets the main plot. I’m not sure how (if at all) to include that. When I tried it read like a bad comic book. (meanwhile, back at the batcave…) I guess I’ll just try a few ways and see how they sound.


One Response

  1. It’s only the main stuff 🙂

    Here…let me help. The agent or editor really only cares about the main stuff. The subplots will weave together in the overall book, yes, but if they aren’t critical to the main plot, then they don’t need to be in the synopsis. Why? Because it makes it too unwieldy. The editor/agent starts getting confused and says “Wait, who is Joe? And where’d this Jane girl come from? And why do I have to care about Andy again? And what does this knife have to do with anything?” You don’t have enough time in a synopsis to invest in the motivations/character depth that the entire book is going to do.

    That’s why the synopsis covers the main protagonists and antagonists, and not the little people. If you were to write the synopsis for say, “Hamlet,” you’d only cover Hamlet, the king and the queen, and some of Polonyius, and not the smaller characters who comment here and there and provide comic relief. They’re simply not critical to the plot, though they do provide things for the overall play. Does that help?

    (Google bumped this back at me, for a blog alert thing-y, BTW, which is how I came across your blog…glad the handout helped :-). If that makes it worse, let me know. 🙂


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