Ah, the dreaded synopsis. The three pager. To me, it's like trying to park a Buick in a Wheaties box.

After toiling with one for over a week, I've come to a startling conclusion about synopses: They suck. I keep tapping the glass on the front of the fun meter, but the needle stubbornly stays on zero.

How do you guys approach writing The Short Synopsis? I'm planning to blog about it soon, and I'd like to get some quotes.

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I approach it with fear, trepidation, whining and threats I may fall into a creative slump that will keep me from getting other work done, but nobody listens.

What was worse, though, was that as soon as I got the synopsis done my agent asked for a 125-word plot summary. The moral of the story is, here I was thinking it didn't get worse than trying to trim my manuscript down to two pages, and then I had to sell it in 125 words or less.

The one thing I had to learn about synopses was to kill my darlings, to not delve into all those juicy subplots I love writing about. You have to stick to the main plotline, or it will become too complex and confusing. Give hints that there's more without so much information that it just baffles the reader.

However, I remain convinced it would have been far more effective if I could have used my one-word summary. Sex sells.
I used part of that 125-word-or-less "elevator pitch" as the opening graf to my synopsis:

When a routine teenage runaway case turns into a complex murder and kidnapping, it’s up to private investigator Nicholas Colt to navigate a terrifying labyrinth of conspiracy and betrayal. With no real evidence to offer the police, Colt must rely on instinct and sheer will to bring a ruthless killer to justice...

Hoping some kind editor will toss the rest of the Wheaties box and skip right to the Buick. :)
Fingers crossed for you. It sounds great, btw.
Thanks, Sandra!
I approach it with complete, utter loathing.

That said, the trick that ended up working for me was to think of it as writing a nonfiction article instead of a deformed English paper. I pictured a busy friend, about to rush off, but they've asked me to tell them about this book I love. So what would I tell them to hook them, get them to sit back in that chair and lean forward, wanting more detail? And then what highlights would I tell them, what's the absolute least detail I have to give them, to keep them intrigued as I carry them across the story? My reader/friend is demented, she wants to know the end, so what can I tell her to lead her there and yet, still make it so tantalzing, she's going to want to go pick it up and see for herself?

I picture myself not as the author of the book, but a reporter, telling about someone else's book, and it allows me to let go of the minutae which build the story and hit the highlights only.
Nice technique, Toni. I like that.
ooh, i like that too, toni. i'm going to keep that in mind next time around.
Listen to Toni. She secured a three-book deal from SMP on the basis of a synopsis and sample chapters. And she was a first-timer at the time...
Wow. That's almost unheard of for a first-timer. I'm impressed.
My name is Jools and I hate writing synopses. Right, that's that out of the way.

Toni, that sounds like a great technique and since it clearly works (many congratulations on your success) I'm going to give it a go next time I need to do one. As it is, I have files for one of my efforts named 'Synopsis', 'Short Synopsis' and 'Very Short Synopsis'. All of them read as very sterile documents. I need to get some life into them and I reckon the patent TMC approach ought to do the trick.

Thanks!
Thanks, everyone. I hope it helps. All I can say is my previous attempts were so bad as to be mind-blowingly horrific. A friend who'd sold with synopses before was trying to teach me and nothing was working -- every single draft got worse, and that was getting kinda scary, the depths of bad I could plumb. I finally had to set aside what she was teaching me and look at it completely differently, and it worked -- I wrote the book 1 synopsis in one sitting. When the agent asked if it was going to be a series and I said yes (insanely), I had two days to write the synopses for the next two. I'm sure this isn't full-proof, but at least it was a different way into the problem.
Hi Jools! Welcome to the Synopsis Haters International Talkfest. :)

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