Sunday, November 16, 2008

Open Mic Night at the Synopsis Lounge

My question is more of a research problem, though one I imagine other writers might have. I'm working on a synopsis of my finished novel, but I'm having a terrible time finding examples of good and bad synopses. (Query letters? Pitch paragraphs? Twenty-five line hooks? Those I've found examples of in abundance, but synopses not so much.) I've found numerous articles offering synopsis advice (without examples), but I'm one of those learn-better-by-example people, so they're of limited utility. Perhaps I'm not looking hard enough?
Blog readers to the rescue! This is your chance to practice your synopsis skills and help each other.

Please email me with synopses of well-known, published middle-grade/YA novels (synopses should be no more than 150 words). I'll post them with my comments regarding thoroughness, clarity, style, and appeal in a separate post.

  • Think of this as your chance to tell a stranger why they should read a great book.
  • Keep it to under two minutes (or, for these purposes, 150 words).
  • Get bogged down in detail.
  • Describe a little-known or unpublished book. Not helpful.
Don't forget to include:
  • What makes it all appealing. If you've summarized everything except the reason readers will be drawn through the plot, you've failed.
  • The ending. I don't care if it's a surprise. Tell me how it fricking ends. (Readers: be aware that this will mean spoilers. Don't read a contest synopsis if you don't want to know how the book in question ends.)
  • The title of the book. Very likely it will be obvious from the synopsis, but if I can't tell and you haven't told me, I won't use it.


Anonymous said...

Did you mean to use "Mike" rather than "Mic" in your subject line?

Editorial Anonymous said...

I figured if I was going to go for "nite" I might as well use "mike" as well. :)

Clare K. R. Miller said...

Ooh, I look forward to reading these. I am about as baffled as the OP.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Ok, now it's getting on my nerves. I'm going to change it.

Chris Eldin said...

Ahhhh, a bittersweet trip down memory lane brings us to the snarkives.


(the nitwit asking the question and not looking up the plural of synopsis was me. the nitwit days are dearly missed. I'm going off to a corner and cry now)

Unknown said...

This is a great idea! I am SO glad you're doing this!!

Anonymous said...

Chris, nitwitting is allowed once and a while. I don't think there is one of us immune to the occasional nitwittery. Certainly not me.

Nit picking tho, is another ball of worms.

Anna Claire said...

Is it just me--I thought Miss Snark always said a synopsis was about a page long, rather than a 150-word blurb. Did I get this wrong?

Sabina E. said...

I'm almost done with my novel, but I am dreading the day I have to write a query letter for my book.


Editorial Anonymous said...

I was hoping to keep things short for the purposes of readability on the blog, but I suppose I would tolerate a longer synopsis if it really seemed necessary.

Most of the synopses I read are overblown with unnecessary detail, though.

Chris Eldin said...

Who is ae?
Hope that's not a nitpicky question...

Anonymous said...

Alter Ego.

Lee Ann Setzer said...

Thanks for this!

Now the nitwit question:

"Include what makes it all appealing. If you've summarized everything except the reason readers will be drawn through the plot, you've failed."

Am I right to assume that you mean that the synopsis should be so appealing that the reader will want to read the book? Or should it include an actual summary of what makes the book appealing?

Sarah Laurenson said...

I found this synopsis article which, of course, means yet another blog to check out. Plus she has some Miss Snark links at the bottom. This could be a very interesting exercise, EA.

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