PDA

View Full Version : Detailed Synopsis



finch
01-20-2007, 08:05 AM
I've had a minor victory; an agent I queried has replied positively to my query, asking for the first fifty and, specifically, a detailed synopsis. This makes me a happy finch, but more importantly it raises a question, one I can't seem to find by searching the AW archives (with the exception of one thread which doesn't quite answer it to my satisfaction).

(Apologies in advance to the forum regulars for this; usually I'm pretty good about unearthing old threads, and I'm sure this topic's been done to death, but I just can't seem to wrangle the forum search very well for some reason.)

Now, back a billion years or so ago in another thread, rugcat said something to the effect of:

"Unless an agent specifically requests a detailed synopsis, which most don't, don't worry about covering every single detail and plot twist."

Based on what little I've googled and the above comment, is it moderately safe to assume that the aforementioned detailed synopsis equates to a full-on chapter-by-chapter summary? That it's best if I do cover most of the details and plot twists?

Thanks in advance for any and all input on this!

rugcat
01-20-2007, 08:31 AM
Now, back a billion years or so ago in another thread, rugcat said something to the effect of:
"Unless an agent specifically requests a detailed synopsis, which most don't, don't worry about covering every single detail and plot twist."
Don't forget, Rugcat often doesn't know what he's talking about. You might want to wait for a more knowledgeable reply.

However, I did have to do a detailed synopsis (or at least what I would call a detailed synopsis) at one point. It runs about seven double spaced pages. I'd be glad to let you see it if you think an example would be any help. PM me if you do.

finch
01-20-2007, 10:32 AM
Hey, with what little (and conflicting) information I've been able to dig up so far, right now you sound like an expert, so thanks for the offer. I think I'll hold it in reserve for now and follow my instincts, but I may very well want to have a peek when I'm done with my first go at the thing.

cinders23
01-20-2007, 06:02 PM
Based on what little I've googled and the above comment, is it moderately safe to assume that the aforementioned detailed synopsis equates to a full-on chapter-by-chapter summary? That it's best if I do cover most of the details and plot twists?

Yes, I agree with you! Detailed means detailed. Good luck.

ChaosTitan
01-21-2007, 02:04 AM
A detailed synopsis I can handle. But one publisher's guidelines state that they want a "detailed one page synopsis." :Wha:

I mean, what the...?

finch
01-21-2007, 02:30 AM
That's the opposite of a logic puzzle, isn't it? Did you ever submit to them? Given that, yeah, I think I'll stick to my detailed detailed.

And yeah, 'detailed means detailed' is absolutely obvious common sense, but I couldn't be sure there wasn't some widely accepted format for such a thing. Better to ask and feel silly than to guess and foul it all up, I always say.

At a guess, this is the appropriate time to start cursing yourself for having a complex plot. Curse, curse, curse. Curse.

Shadow_Ferret
03-17-2007, 06:28 PM
I'm hijacking this thread! Bwahahaha!

OK. To reiterate the OP's question. A detailed synopsis is.... what?

I understand the one pager. You keep to just the main plot and main character.

A detailed you get into all the subplots and minor characters?

You do a chapter by chapter summary?

Again, if you do the chapter by chapter summary, do you actually say, "In chapter 1, the MC is attacked by a hunchback with bad teeth. He successful escapes and then makes breakfast for his family.

In chapter 2, the hunchback returns. This time with a sledgehammer..."

Or do you just sort of tell the story chronologically without mentioning chapters?

Or do you start off with a detailed background of the character (even if these things are only revealed gradually throughout the story) then get into the meat of the story?

Or what?

Please. I'm angious and excited at the same time. (I'm so nervous I can't even remember how to spell anxious!)

ChaosTitan
03-17-2007, 07:42 PM
I'm no expert at this, but I hope it's helpful. ;)


A detailed you get into all the subplots and minor characters?

Yes. You don't have to include everything, but you have more room to expound upon the subplots and minor characters. For example, in my short synopsis, I left out half a dozen supporting characters, because they weren't important to telling the main story. They are, however, important to the subplots.

Weave the new information into the synopsis. Keep it interesting, keep it necessary. Give me a quirk or two about crazy Uncle Ricky, but don't write three paragraphs about his bootlegging operation and how he ended up with a limp. Make sure I know how he ties into the main story, and how his subplot progresses the main plot.

You do a chapter by chapter summary?

A synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter are different animals. In the latter, yes, you would write a few sentences on each chapter, using chapter headings. For the former, tell it like a story. A synopsis isn't a list of sequential events; you are telling the novel in a condensed format.

Or do you just sort of tell the story chronologically without mentioning chapters?

Bingo.

Or do you start off with a detailed background of the character (even if these things are only revealed gradually throughout the story) then get into the meat of the story?

Don't info dump. Each time you introduce a character in the synopsis (especially in the detailed), you can say a few words about them. Personality, special abilities, pertinant history. You want the reader of the synopsis to know who these characters are, but they don't need a biography up front.

Fantasy and SF will probably lend more word count to explaining certain things about the novel's setting. Don't forget to include character motivations and reactions. "This happened, and this happened because she was pissed about that happening, but because she wasn't paying attention, that happened to her boyfriend...."

And just to further confuse you, (;) ) here is a link to many more links:

http://www.charlottedillon.com/synopsis.html

Shadow_Ferret
03-17-2007, 07:58 PM
Thanks. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me.

Oh, and I've heard synopsis, unlike the WIP, should be single spaced. Is that correct?

ChaosTitan
03-17-2007, 08:06 PM
I don't think there's a hard and fast rule, but shorter synopsises (synopsi?) are often single spaced. If you're writing a detailed, ten-page synopsis, I'd double space it for easier reading.

maestrowork
03-17-2007, 08:07 PM
It depends on what they mean by "detailed." To me, it doesn't mean twist by twist, character by character, chapter by chapter, blow by blow. If that's the case, how can you have a detailed one-page synopsis?

To me, detailed means all the major plot points are covered, all the MAIN characters mentioned, and the beginning, middle, and end spelled out. It should read like a REAL summary of the entire story so the agent knows exactly what the story is. It should have specifics but not minute details -- meaning, you should say "<MC> murders his wife with a chainsaw" but not "<MC> did something to his wife" or "MC chopped his wife up with a Sears TX24 chainsaw three hours before sunset when nobody was watching."

Birol
03-17-2007, 11:23 PM
I just finished a detailed one-page synopsis. You don't have to cover chapter-by-chapter, but need to cover the major plot points of the novel. While every chapter will advance the story, they all won't have a major plot point.

What I did, therefore what I will recommend you do, is start out by going scene-by-scene and write a 1-to-3 sentence summary for every scene. String them all together. Don't worry about how they flow. From that point, lay the manuscript aside, and start working on rewriting the scene-by-scene descriptions into a logical flow, cutting things that don't seem relevant to the major plot points. Continue refining until you're happy.

Remember, synopses are single-spaced, not double, and often written in present tense. Think back of the book, but because they are condensations of the entire novel, it may read somewhat stilted to you, the author.

Shadow_Ferret
03-18-2007, 01:44 AM
It depends what they mean by "detailed." To me, it doesn't mean twist by twist, character by character, chapter by chapter, blow by blow. If that's the case, how can you have a detailed one-page synopsis?


The agent said he'd like to examine "a detailed synopsis." That's all I have to go by. His emailed response and the agency's website give no further clues as to what that might be.


What I did, therefore what I will recommend you do, is start out by going scene-by-scene and write a 1-to-3 sentence summary for every scene. String them all together. Don't worry about how they flow. From that point, lay the manuscript aside, and start working on rewriting the scene-by-scene descriptions into a logical flow, cutting things that don't seem relevant to the major plot points. Continue refining until you're happy.

Remember, synopses are single-spaced, not double, and often written in present tense. Think back of the book, but because they are condensations of the entire novel, it may read somewhat stilted to you, the author.

Thanks, Lori!

maestrowork
03-18-2007, 05:27 AM
Go with Lori's example. And yes, single space, please. Present tense. I'd use a proportional font (10 or 12 pt) instead of a fixed font like courier.