Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Authors HELP! Synopsis Its hard to write this than the book

Got a question/comment about the business of writing or about the publishing industry? Here's your place to post it!
User avatar
Divia
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4435
Joined: August 2008
Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Authors HELP! Synopsis Its hard to write this than the book

Post by Divia » Fri August 5th, 2011, 5:53 pm

OMG, I feel like banging my head up against a wall. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do this. I've seen 1001 different ways to write them. I saw only do single space. I saw only do double space. Bold your characters names. No use CAPS. Make it one page. No, make it up to 3 pages. Don't go onto a 4th page....and some say yeah its OK to have 10 pages. :eek:

Im spinning my wheels here.

Authors, HELP. can you give any words of advice?
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
http://yabookmarks.blogspot.com/

User avatar
boswellbaxter
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3066
Joined: August 2008
Location: North Carolina
Contact:

Post by boswellbaxter » Fri August 5th, 2011, 6:52 pm

Are you writing it for a particular agent? If so, check to see if the agent has a blog or a website that indicates what style her or she prefers.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/

User avatar
Divia
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4435
Joined: August 2008
Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Post by Divia » Fri August 5th, 2011, 7:27 pm

Nothing on he synopsis. :(
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
http://yabookmarks.blogspot.com/

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri August 5th, 2011, 7:44 pm

I can't say I'm very good at this either, but I have learned this much: leave out the sub-plots. Pick the main plot thread and tell that story a briefly as possible. If you try to work in the sub-plots, then there is too much going on without adequate space to explain and the reader ends up confused.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2440
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Fri August 5th, 2011, 11:37 pm

Its hard to write this than the book
You're not kidding! Trick one is to unlearn (temporarily) all the great show-don't-tell scenes you put into the novel. Trick two is to unlearn most of the academic stuff you learned in school about writing a plot summary (because it's boring).

Here's the rule of thumb I've developed:

Open with a sentence that encapsulates the story in one enticing line - you'll be reusing this one, or something like it, whenever you need to supply a one-sentence summary of what your novel is about. The setting goes here, and this is also where you'll mention that it's a YA novel.

Tell the most pertinent traits of your main character - what one or two qualities will make your readers love her/him, what endearing flaw does s/he have to overcome, what makes her/him a little different and interesting, what difficult situation is s/he in? (Susan is a warm-hearted twelve-year-old whose impulsive nature gets her in trouble when she invites a street urchin to come and live with her family.)

Tell the most pertinent traits of your main character's antagonist (this could be the villain of the story, or it could be someone likeable who represents the most central conflict for your character, such as a loved family member who nevertheless stands in the way of your character getting what s/he most wants), and tell what the central conflict is between the main character and the antagonist. (Puck is small for his age with laughing eyes and plenty of charm, but when Susan's mom discovers he has sold some of her jewelry to a pawn shop, Susan realizes she has badly misjudged him.)

Unless you have written a mystery and the agent specifically says not to reveal the ending, tell how the conflict is resolved and the character grows, wrapping up the ending.

In order to make the story understandable, you may need to say something about one or more of the other characters, but keep it to a minimum.

Say something about what market you're aiming at. Don't praise your book directly (save the scintillating and magnificent adjectives for describing your characters, which will indirectly suggest that your book is also scintillating and magnificent), but do say what type of readers will most enjoy it. For example, girls between 12 and 15 who enjoy a romantic story with a Christian message, or struggling readers who will enjoy a boys' adventure story set in the Old West. If your book is similar to another fairly recent book that was successful, mention that, too: "... a quirky tale in the tradition of Lemony Snicket."

Nowadays, most agents and editors seem to want a short synopsis - one page is probably safer than two, unless the length is specified on the agent's or editor's website.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Alisha Marie Klapheke
Avid Reader
Posts: 376
Joined: November 2010
Location: Franklin, TN
Contact:

Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Sat August 6th, 2011, 1:05 am

All great advice above. I just wrote mine and it was worse than the root canal of earlier this year. Anyway, I started with a sentence for setting. Next I wrote a bit about my prot and what she wants. Then I added why she won't be getting that and who is standing in her way. Since mine has a major love thing, I added him into the mix along with his goal/problem.

I started off big and then had some people over at AgentQueryConnect help me hack it down and give it some punch. I still hate it because synopses are so blahblahblah compared to the novel but I believe it's as good as I can make it. I'll tell you, the hardest part was not repeating parts of my query!

How is yours coming along?

User avatar
Divia
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4435
Joined: August 2008
Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Post by Divia » Sat August 6th, 2011, 2:08 am

Its three pages doubled spaced heading towards 4 and needs to be trimmed. I might have too many subplots in there though.
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
http://yabookmarks.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Alisha Marie Klapheke
Avid Reader
Posts: 376
Joined: November 2010
Location: Franklin, TN
Contact:

Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Mon August 8th, 2011, 4:37 pm

I've been told to cut all subplots but I suppose it depends on the length required. If they don't state a preferred length, I believe the synopsis should be one page, single spaced with a space bt paragraphs. I have my one pager, but I think I'll get a 3 together as well since some agents want a bit more.

User avatar
oldhousejunkie
Scribbler
Posts: 41
Joined: June 2011
Location: South Carolina
Contact:

Post by oldhousejunkie » Thu August 25th, 2011, 9:04 pm

I read an awesome "how-to" on the Writer's Digest site. You can probably google it.

Basically, you are to capitalize your character names when they are first mentioned only. It's OK to use single space. Only name your main characters (although you can reference other characters).

I did a two page synopsis and a one page synopsis. The one page was particularly painful. :-) Focus on getting it down to two pages, and then go threw and get brutal. Ask yourself--do I really need to mention this? If you do, figure out a way to condense the thought.

It will come together--I promise! Good luck!
I blog about all things writing and historical at Caroline Wilson Writes!

I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!

Now Available: "Rebel Heart," a romantic historical fiction set in Civil War America and Victorian England.

Available at Amazon

Image

User avatar
EC2
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3661
Joined: August 2008
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Post by EC2 » Thu August 25th, 2011, 10:16 pm

Sarah Duncan's advice may help out. She's a writer friend who teaches writerly stuff. Go to her blog, check the right hand sidebar and scroll down to Synopses, click on it and have a read through what she has to say.
http://sarahduncansblog.blogspot.com/

It's no good asking me as my agent likes enormous synopses! All I would say is 'Sell as well as tell.' Never forget that you're selling your work on the strength of your words as well as telling the story, so aim for some emotive words in there.
Last edited by EC2 on Fri August 26th, 2011, 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

Post Reply

Return to “The Writing Business”