Oh, No! (Gasp) – The Synopsis Approaches

Yes, my writerly friends and family, it is the bane of my existence…the dreaded synopsis.

Yet, it isn’t the actual writing of the synopsis that seems so dastardly.  It is the frustration that the format of a synopsis is like a contemporary painting…open to interpretation.  For an industry that in other areas is so regimented, why is the style and length of the synopsis so varied from agent to agent…and publisher to publisher?  Why can’t they all just get along?

Recently, I lamented this frustration to a new writer friend, Teresa Frohock.  I discovered her blog while searching for critiquing ideas.  I have enjoyed her humor and insight, and especially her “lunch hour links”.  After researching this topic, today she has posted a great blog on writing the novel synopsis.

Thank you for the topic, Teresa!  (Sigh)  Now I have to haul out my synopsis, which originally began life at a whooping 10 pages.  After much sweat and tears, I’ve managed to massage it down to 6 pages.  As it’s written, I’ll never get it any shorter.  So, Teresa, I am going to use the technique you mentioned, and rewrite it in three Acts.

Those who know me personally, know that I love movies…and I love to quote them.  As a new blogger, I think I’ll continue to spout off my favorite quotes as I come across them.  Teresa, you now have the distinct honor of being my first quotee!  Here’s my favorite line from the post writing the novel synopsis:

“Well! many authors exclaim, how can that silly agent-person possibly experience the greatness of my novel with one lousy page?”

Boy, isn’t that the truth?!  Not the silly agent part, but the part about the greatness within us.  Isn’t that what we want?!  We want someone to come along…and even through the rough edges…can see that spark of greatness withinus.  And the thought that we have to convey that latent spark in under 300 words – is terrifying!

Keep writing!


Lynda Gail Alfano

~ by immortaldiva on July 14, 2009.

5 Responses to “Oh, No! (Gasp) – The Synopsis Approaches”

  1. I am truly honored to be your first quote, Lynda, that is no joke!

    I hate writing a synopsis, because it reduces my novel primarily to plot. For me, as both a reader and a writer, it is the subtle nuances of the characters that make the book worth reading, and those subtilities can only be seen by reading the book as a whole.

    I think the synopsis is most often like a resume in that we’re showing the agent/editor that: a) we have good grammar; b) we know what our book is about; and c) we are professional enough to tackle tasks we hate in order to be published.

    I wish you luck in paring yours down. I’m working on mine, too, so I feel your pain! 😉

    Thanks for your post! Teresa

  2. Hi, I got here through Teresa’s wonderful post about synopsis.

    I feel the frustration in your post and share it! I have not worked much with synopsis, but I have re-written my query an infinite number of times, and I feel they are very similar. One of the things that has worked for me in taking the pressure of (so that the thing can actually get written), is that a query or a synopsis is just a way of getting an agent/publisher’s attention. So, rather than condensing my novel into one page, I think about what makes this story different and why would anyone want to read it?

    Good luck in writing yours!

  3. Lynda, in the spirit of your last two posts (Synopsis and Senryu) here is a thought:

    A novel idea
    if you have a surgeon’s soul
    to perform synopsis

  4. Judy: that is rich! lol

  5. […] see Lynda Gail Alfano’s take on the synopsis in her post, Oh, No! (Gasp) – The Synopsis Approaches. Scroll down through the comments for a really cool Senryu on the synopsis by […]

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