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Perfect Submission Part 2 - the Synopsis (from Nicola Morgan's course at York Fest of Writing 2014)


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This won't make much sense if you weren't there but it's the visuals for my presentation on writing a synopsis.

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Perfect Submission Part 2 - the Synopsis (from Nicola Morgan's course at York Fest of Writing 2014)

  1. 1. A totally gratuitous pic of shoes or something to do with a SYNOPSIS?
  2. 2. Boring Basics • Length: convention is 1-3 pages, ideally <2 • May be single-line-spaced • Present tense • 3rd person
  3. 3. Why the boring rules/conventions? • Because publishers/agents are sadists
  4. 4. Why the boring rules/conventions? • Because publishers/agents are sadists • Not designed to be inspirational/wacky • A synopsis is a functional, mundane tool • Not the most exciting part of a publisher’s day so rather 2 pages than 8 • Meaning is clearer if not disguised in arty wackiness • JUST DO IT, OK?
  5. 5. But don’t over-stress about the rules
  6. 6. 2 Synopsis Situations 1. After you’ve written the book – in order to sell it 2. Before you’ve written the (whole) book – in order to sell it or in order to help you write it
  7. 7. LEAST important bit of your outfit/submission • Pitch/letter = eye-catching coat + silk scarf • Sample chapters = stunning outfit beneath coat • The synopsis = the footwear
  8. 8. OMG – SHE JUST SAID WOT???
  9. 9. Why Ss are Like Shoes • Not everyone cares about footwear • Outfit still great with plainer footwear • Might be better with plainer footwear – don’t want footwear to be better than outfit • No shoe is the only perfect one • Footwear should fit/match reasonably • If footwear is pants, outfit wrecked
  10. 10. Causes of Synopsophobia • You think synopsis is too important • Or must be perfect to get deal • You think there is one perfect synopsis for your book • You don’t realise that it just needs NOT TO BE PANTS
  11. 11. Some Ss ARE Pants • Very confusing – no idea of structure, pace etc of book • Extraordinary detail • Introduces element totally not in keeping with the pitch/genre • Crappy story blatantly doesn’t work
  12. 12. I know what you’re worried about: • My book is wonderful / going to win the Man Booker Prize and no way can my synopsis do justice to it
  13. 13. Remember: it doesn’t matter. Just has to be “good enough”
  14. 14. What is a good enough synopsis? • Synopsis = “together seeing” • Shows that story works • A sense of beginning, middle and ending • Sees story as journey and uses Crappy Memory Tool
  15. 15. Interesting things about the journey: 1. Who and why? 2. Intended destination and why? 3. Price of failure 4. What/who knocks travellers off course? 5. How do they get back on course? 6. What is actual end and how did the journey change them?
  16. 16. We do not need to know: 1. Every little detour 2. Weather 3. Conversations 4. Scenery 5. Picnic in Ch5 even if it’s your favourite bit 6. Who they met, unless we need them to understand the book
  17. 17. Suggested Method • Switch on Crappy Memory Tool • Building up not cutting down – 25 words -> paragraph – Paragraph -> page – Page -> 2 pages if required – Polish (not the E European sort – the sort you do to furniture) – Show a stranger
  18. 18. Remaining Questions One answer: “What does the publisher need to know in order to know that you have written a book that works?”
  19. 19. A Great Synopsis: • Obeys instructions if they exist • Shows that your book works • Is a mere tool, not necessarily beautiful • Like gorgeous boots: supportive but neither necessary nor sufficient • Is appropriate for the book • Is nothing to fear or loathe
  20. 20. Ooh, the naughty woman has undercut Amazon! Only £2.60 on her website? Presentation Copyright © Nicola Morgan 2014