Now - to Sum Up. Just went through a webinar last week with Chuck Sambuchino and Writer's Digest regarding writing a summary or synopsis of your work. Good stuff, and I'll highlight the bullet points below, and then after I get my summary back from Chuck I'll post it here so you can see the good, bad and ugly.
So here's what I learned:
- Synopses can be dry - they're not meant to be flowery, funny, or literary. They're strictly there so that the agent or publisher can figure out how your hero goes from A to Z.
- Always use active voice.
- Skip details and subplots - they'll come out in the story. Again, think main thread: how does the hero go from A to Z and what does the villain throw in his/her way.
- Keep names to a minimum. Too many characters can cause confusion. You want to keep it to about a page, so anything longer than that is probably extraneous. Talk about the hero's father rather than mention him by name if you have to bring him up.
- Summarization is ok - "Johnny has several experiences on the train to Mordor" kinda thing. You don't have to outline every single person he meets and all the conversation he has. Keep it light!
- Here's the one time you can tell, not show. You don't have enough time to show - you'll lose their interest. See first bullet point.
- Don't be vague! I know this kinda contradicts the details - but there's a difference. Saying that "Johnny was saved" is too vague. The publishers or agents want to know if his saving was realistic and plausible or a Deus Ex Machina. Spell out how he was saved. But don't go into too much detail.
- Capitalize character names the first time you use them. Helps the reader understand who the story's REALLY about.
- Check spelling, yadda yadda yadda. I mean, c'mon. You're a writer. EVERYTHING you produce with your name on it should be the utmost quality.
- Important! Don't EDITORIALIZE! See point number 1. Don't describe something as "the most exciting part of the book" or "Johnny learns a life lesson". Stay in the story, and just get the hero from point A to Z.
- 4 Must Haves: 1) Core conflict of the story. 2) Characters we care about. 3) What's at stake. 4) How the conflict is resolved.
- Have a good strong opening paragraph. You have to grab the reader as to why this is a cool story.
- NO rhetorical questions. This isn't Batman. "Will Johnny survive his train trip to Mordor?" Just answers.
That's the gist of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to trim my synopsis for Book II of the Timepiece Chronicles down from 7 pages to 1.
Wish me luck....