I was surfing the web, one link carrying me off to another, randomly reading when I came across the "How To Write A Synopsis" plight. Yes, you read that right. "Plight."

I can assure, I spent two or more, cups of morning coffee on getting wrapped up in that subject, jumping from one article to another.

And then, I discovered something. It hit me, actually the caffine probably kicked in and turned on the old brain, some articles are conflicting. Yes, we have the majority claiming a particular format for a synopsis, then a few that suggest a different format.

The majority, which in my opinion, should rule, stated type your name, title, and page number at the top (usually left hand corner) yet the minority stated type your name, title, genre, word: Synopsis, and page number.

Alrightie. I wrote a synopsis a long time ago. And I've read various articles written by published writers, recommending write the synopsis before writing a word of the book. That serves as the writer's guideline to his plot. Okay, I can see that. I wrote mine with just a few chapters of my book written. I haven't strayed from my intended ending, although my characters decided to create a few sub-plots a long the way. So I can live with that. It won't change the synopsis. And they can be edited and adapted anyway, so no biggie.

The question is, which format is right, or is there no right and wrong, and if either is acceptable, which is the preferred format by editors?

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Comment by Jannie Balliett on March 31, 2007 at 2:08pm
Karen, I like your thinking and style. And your not "normal" is the logical approach. After all, if you like the writing style and author voice, then the synopsis will give you the jest of the story. You certainly make good sense. I agree, why bother reading a synopsis, even if the story is a good story and plot, but the writing isn't?
BTW-- did you get my message about the multiple posts? Sorry 'bout that, it wasn't intentional.;)
Comment by Jannie Balliett on March 31, 2007 at 1:06pm
Troy, thanks! I read that you should drop any backstory/subplots like you said, and simply and efficiently, tell the story in one or two pages, like you would sit across from someone that asks you what's your story about, and answer them in an exciting summary (synopsis) to capture all the important characters and plot, connecting it all. The one thing that was universal in the articles that I read, was to capture the essence of the book. I also read that we should include the conclusion in our synopsis, is that true? To actually give the ending away? Of course, that would be fine with me considering it's an editor or publisher ;) and it has a killer ending that no one would figure out anyway! ;)
Comment by Mark Troy on March 31, 2007 at 6:51am
I wouldn't worry much about the format of the synopsis as long as it's easy to read and doesn't have distractions such as odd fonts or dingbats. Manuscript format is really a set of guidelines to make the editor's job easier. Unlike a manuscript, the synopsis won't be edited. It's purpose is to show that you have a complete and compelling plot. If there is a rule for the synopsis, it would be tell the story in as straightforward a way as possible, show the conflict and scrap the backstory.
Comment by Echelon Press on March 30, 2007 at 10:55pm
For me, as an editor, I just need the name, title and page number in the header, and the title centered at the top of the first page. And if you really care, no more than two pages, single spaced, TNR 12 point font. On another note I am kinda weird on synopsis. I don't read them until I have read the opening pages. If I don't like the writing style or story to that point, there is no point in reading the synopsis. But that's just me and I have never been called normal.

Karen Syed

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