Wednesday’s Challenge: The Synopsis

Are you up for today’s challenge?

No one really likes to read or write a synopsis, but it is a useful tool for editors. We refer back to them throughout the publishing process: when writing memos to recommend the stories to senior editors, when filling out the cover art forms, and when writing the back cover copy. We need an organized synopsis that summarizes the story.

We all have different opinions on how long a synopsis should be. Some like 1-2 pages single-spaced, some like 10 pages double-spaced. For our purposes, how about we compromise with 5 pages, double spaced, using 12-point size font? Sound good?

In the writing/submission process, you may have faced the blank page and thought, Why do I have to do this? Why can’t I just write the story and let the editor figure out the synopsis? Because it doesn’t work that way. Writing a synopsis guides us so that months after we read your book, we can refer to the synopsis instead of rereading the entire book. Remember how your parents told you to eat your vegetables? Writing a synopsis is a bit like that and will benefit you/us in the long run. It might even help you organize your story.

Here are a few tips for creating your synopsis:

Make a list of all the events that happen. Hero and heroine meet. They both have major issues. He takes her out to breakfast. They fight. She reveals secret baby. He stomps off, she thinks, because he doesn’t love her. He comes back and tells her he just started a trust fund for their child. They live happily ever after.

Those are the main points of the story. Now you can string these sentences together and fill out the main points with a fuller picture of the setting, the characters, and the conflict. While you don’t want to write: This happened, then this, then this, then this little thing, you can provide more minor details to add spice. Bear in mind that the editor wants the highlights. You can also pretend you’re telling an editor the story and just record your words on paper. Before you know it, you’ll be done with those five pages. In fact, it might be much easier than you thought.

One last item to consider: Make your synopsis readable. A synopsis can be dry. While it doesn’t have to be edge-of-your-seat gripping, you are allowed to write a synopsis we will enjoy reading. But mostly, make sure you include the highlights.

So, now that you’ve done some pondering, it’s time for you to send us your synopsis. Make us—the editors—excited about your story and the directions it takes. Take us on a journey—a succinct, well-written one you can tell in 5 pages (or approximately 1250 words).Please submit to us at by 5:00 p.m. EST, today, September 17, 2014. Be sure to include in the subject heading: SYTYCW Synopsis Assignment. We’ll randomly pick four to critique tomorrow morning by 10:00 a.m., September 18, 2014. Good luck!