Masters tales

The synopsis – bain of my writing…

I can’t do them. I mean how do you take a novel and make it one page long…

One page!

And that is double spaced, 12pt Times New Roman… It’s hardly anything!

BUT (an it is a huge but),

I have just been on a course about how to find an agent/publisher. Now I knew a lot of it except the synopsis. So I sat with pen poised and attention on the tutor. How do you get a whole novel into one page? There has to be a formula…

And there is!

Really, I am so happy at the moment. I now know how.

Okay so first – the formatting.

  • Use a readable front and nothing less than 11 pt (I always use 12)
  • Double or 1.5 spacing (I always use double)
  • Use third person (Really? Yes, came the answer, even if you are writing in first)
  • Use present tense (Even if the novel is in past)
  • Put the character’s names in capitals (Really? KATE said.)

So where to start…

Katherine Stansfield says that she uses the Emma Darwin approach for the first sentence…

  • Use the opening sentence to say what type of book it is and to introduce the main character, then follow that with a two sentence summary of the book’s main conflict.

For example – In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett wants to marry for love, in a world where she must marry for economic survival.

Okay – I can do that… So that is essentially the whole book in three sentences. Now what?

Then Katherine suggests using Mike Wells approach.

Every story has five elements:

  1. the hero
  2. the situation the hero wishes to be free of
  3. the goal that will free him
  4. the villain who will stop him (this can be a thing or an idea, and not necessarily a person)
  5. the disaster that will happen if the hero doesn’t make it.

By using these elements you can create the rest of your synopsis. (Have a look at Mike’s blog for an example.)

One more thing – if you have a book that jumps around in time, do the synopsis chronologically. The synopsis is almost like a plan of the book, it isn’t meant to leave a cliffhanger but explain what is going on.

And that is it. You have a one page synopsis. 🙂 All I can say is good luck. I’m practicing but the results look promising.

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