HOW TO WRITE A SHORT STORY STYLE SYNOPSIS
Back to the agent stuff.
One thing that many agents will request is your synopsis.
Why o’ why must they ask for more work? I surely don’t know. I suppose they assume that a well-written synopsis indicates a well-written book. Perhaps.
That said, I don’t want to pretend as if synopses are not important. In fact, I learned a lot more about my book by writing my synopsis.
A synopsis will not be and must not be and should not be longer than 5 PAGES. Some agents will even ask that you keep it to one page.
I suggest that you write a 5-page synopsis and lop off the wordy parts for the agents who are asking for less.
A synopsis is an emotional piece that summarizes your novel. It is not, however, a SUMMARY by any means. Think of it more a short story version of your 75,000-worder.
Summaries are bland narratives best left up to Reading Rainbowers.
Synopses are full of emotion, and they are gripping with action and tension on every page. Even clever dialogue can be included.
Also, synopses are written in the present tense. It doesn’t matter what tense your novel is in. Present tense is an absolute for a synopsis.
WHAT TO CHOOSE FROM:
Think of your work in pieces. What are the elements that move the story forward? Leave out all subplots and focus on the main plot. You may allude to a subplot but only in a statement.
Here’s the meat of the query letter that we used from before:
“Well-to-do CHRISTIAN SEPHER has just been fired from his position as an investment banker for the Fiola Corporation. Upon his dismissal, he realizes that his fiancée, ELLA ROSE, has been offered his former position, and she has one month to accept.
The tension between the two of them tightens, and behind the violent arguments and the threat of calling off the wedding lies the truth: Ella has done everything in her life to please Christian.
Now, the two must decide what’s important, their marriage or their careers.”
Let’s stick with that same premise. I’m going to write a short synopsis, but it will give you an understanding of the approach to take.
Keep in mind that this is just my slapped together version. You will see some notes inserted, explaining the key points..
SYNOPSIS : SACRED ROSE
[DO NOT BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NOVEL UNLESS THE BEGINNING IS SOME TYPE OF CATACLYSMIC EVENT]
White haired Mr. Morgans stares at the fashionable CHRISTIAN SEPHER over the top of his glasses, behind a desk that blocks the panoramic view of downtown Minnesota. Mr. Morgans locks his fingers together and tilts his head to the side. His chapped lips flinch as if he will speak. Something about the tone of his face tells Christian that this meeting had everything to do with the recent increase in Christians’ sales numbers.
“Christian,” Mr. Morgans says, sliding a few unimportant files to either direction over the glass of his desk.
Christian holds his breath. The excitement of his promotion sings in his mind. He leans forward with his folder of printed spreadsheets sitting on his lap.
Not waiting for Christian to respond, Mr Morgans says, “Fiola Corp is growing.” His eyes shift down to the papers and then flick back to Christian. “And you are not. I would like your official resignation in my hand by this afternoon.” Mr. Morgans pulls off his glasses, and they clink against the desk. “Otherwise we will have to take other measures, those of which I am sure your resume would despise.”
Silent, Christian swallows a glob of spit as thick as molasses. He nods, not sure why, and leaves the office, listening to the sound in his head of his career crumbling.
[VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU BEGIN WITH THE MAIN EVENT THAT GETS YOU OUT OF ACT 1 AND INTO ACT 2]
Defeated and confused, he drags himself through the cubicles, making his way over to his fiancée, the redheaded, “yes-woman,” ELLA ROSE. She sees his heavy eyes and his sagging face. “Did you not get the position?”
Christian drops his head and walks away, never answering.
Three days pass, and Christian has not left his elegant three bedroom condominium, overlooking the lake. I’m going to lose everything, he thought. He had applied to become the Assistant CEO, and instead, he had become the executive DOA, his career dead-on-arrival.
He spins a filthy glass of Merlot in his hand, dirty with his fingerprints and the oils from his lips from not being washed since he had his first drink only a few nights before. He can’t take his eyes off the picture on the coffee table of the night that he proposed to Ella.
There was nothing special about the proposal, accept that Ella had lost both of her parents in a car accident several years back. She had mentioned that her father had proposed to her mother at a rose garden not far from Christian’s place.
Christian had thought that it would be special to propose to her there, especially with mother’s old diamond.
Three thuds tap on the door, and he looks over, not sure if he will answer it.
Before he can decide, he hears the metal of the key jiggling around in the lock. “Christian,” Ella calls, as she peeks around the corner of the door, orange hair spilling inside the dimly lit living room.
After the niceties have been exchanged, Ella sits beside him on the couch, hands pressed together and clasped between her knees. “Mr. Morgans offered me the position.”
Christian sits up, wine glass nearly falling between his finger tips. “What did he say when you told him that you weren’t interested?”
She pushes her hair behind her ear. “That’s not what I told him….”
“Then what did you say?”
“All I said was that I was interested, and he said that I had a month to—”
“If you take that job…there’s no way we can get married.”
[THERE’S YOUR ACT 2 MOMENT THAT TAKES YOU INTO ACT 3. WHAT WILL SHE DECIDE? CONSEQUENTLY, WHAT WILL HE DECIDE?]
Christian and Ella spend days not talking to each. Every conversation erupts into an argument, and words like blades slice through each other’s hearts.
Ella has one more day to decide if she is going to take the job and risk losing Christian. She feels betrayed because Christians has shown her that he cares more about his own disappointment with not getting the job than he does about her.
[STATE THE SITUATION BEFORE BREAKING TO THE CLIMAX]
At 10:57pm, her phone beeps, vibrating on her coffee table. It’s Christian.
Meet me at the garden….
[RELATES BACK TO THE PICTURE THAT HE SAW]
Her heart leaps. He’s going to propose again, she thought, smiling.
She rushes down to the rose garden, and she finds Christian not kneeling, but standing.
His hands are in his pockets, his hair is a mess, and he looks as if he hasn’t shaved in over a week.
Immediately, Ella’s smile vanishes, replaced by anger. “Why did you ask me to come down here, Christian?”
He steps away, walking backwards past a few rows of roses. The icy wind blows by, not able to cut through his brown leather jacket. “Because I knew you would.”
Confused, Ella approaches him. “What’s that supposed to mean? You think this is a game! I drove 20 minutes for this.”
Christian sighs and pushes his hair off his forehead. His gaze falls to the ground, then slowly rises to meet hers. “Everything that I’ve asked of you, Ella, you’ve done. You followed me to Minnesota, leaving your brother back in Colorado. You bought a condominium near mine when the ones outside of the city were cheaper. You even go to all the stupid little restaurants that I want to go to. But when I asked you not to take the position—”
Tears spill from Ella’s eyes. She can’t hold in her sobs any longer. She cries into her hands, red hair tossing in the wind. “I have to…Christian. I have to take the job. But I can’t lose you.”
Christian doesn’t budge, remaining as stoic as he just was. “But when I asked you not to take the position, you said that you were going to do it anyway.”
“I have to…please don’t do this.” Her words are a jumbled mess, echoing in her hands and warbling in her tears.
“That’s when I realized something. You can’t live for me for the rest of your life. You just can’t keep doing it. You have to take the job, Ella. I’ve been selfish, and my selfishness nearly made me lose the most important person in my life. You.”
The two of them hug, and Christian proposes to her again in the rose garden. Ella takes the job, and the two of them get married, realizing that love cannot be separated by anything.
[GOOD TO THROW YOU PREMISE IN YOU SYNOPSIS SOMEWHERE]
So that was a long one. I hope it helps! Thanks for stopping by.