Tuesday, 13 January 2009

One page synopsis; or, The third circle of Hell

So over last weekend I needed to make a one page synopsis and a super-short synopsis. The super short one, no problem. I have my copywriting skills and I know what makes PS unique, so I did that one, no problem. 

But the one page. 

Oh holy cow, the one page!

Who would have thought that thing was so horrible! But as the agent explained, the editor that falls in love with your book will have to defend it, so think of it as artillery. 

All right, I could do that. So me and the hubs started in to rework the three-pager I had. 

And worked. 

And worked. 

We started out in the kitchen and then moved from there to the living room and then from there to the office. Where, my lovely hubs created this: 

A huge breakdown of the thread that runs underneath it all; P and her dad's relationship. 

At times, the talking got a little heated, and teh boyz fed off this. (The cat tree is in the office, right by the window, so they can sleep there):

(I will take the opportunity to point out the Black cat's absolute superiority in the King of the Hill game him and Blue cat are playing.)

So anyways, we got it done. But it was a mess. Whew. It was awesome, but a mess. Blue cat gave up on us long before we were finished with the thing to go sit in the sun. 

So I thought I'd put some links up here for you *and* me, the next time I have to do this believe me I am going to start a heck of a lot earlier. 

Diana, the brat, has a nice background review, but disclaimer: she likes doing them and often does her synopsis even before the writing of the actual book. *shudders* Dee-Ann LeBlanc says you should start off, in order, doing a:

1. One sentence
2. One paragraph
3. One page
4. Extended

Now, I like this idea and did it with my first book because I didn't know what the conflict and stuff was. I did the one sentence and one paragraph for P back when I was querying, just never got together the one page or extended thing. 

The thing is, as I was told, the one page needs to have the story all in it, in present tense; general, but with detail. You want it in the story voice. You want it to kind of hit the top of the waves of the ocean of your story, if that makes sense. Most of your subplots and stuff'll be left out. Reveal the ending, major plot twists, and the main characters. 

But remember, the good thing is that the editor will have read it and will know how to argue.  This synopsis is, as Diana said, a selling tool. So no pressure, but the synopsis could potentially turn people on or off your book, depending. 

Fiction writers has a nice brief checklist you can go over at the end of your hair-pulling creation period. Rachelle Gardner has one of her clients, Gordon Carroll, talk about his method here.

I'm going to try and write a one-pager for The Forester's Son, we'll see how that goes. But good luck! May the force work in your favour. 


Kerri said...

Yeah, like it's that easy. I need either your logical thinking brain or your husband. What's it gonna be?

JKB said...

If you want the nice way of doing it, ME.

If you want to scream and cry but still get it done quality, HUBS

The Husband said...

Excuse me?

"If you want to scream and cry but still get it done quality, HUBS"

A willful misrepresentation of my coaching style.

What kind of self-awareness seminar did you have in mind, dear? "Piep, piep, piep - wir haben uns alle lieb"?


Word verification "reolists" - they are facing the hard truths of life, even when messing up the vowels

Heidi the Hick said...

Ok this is now bookmarked- what an excellent post!

(Are our men related? Hardass task masters- gah!)

So as soon as I lift my forehead from my hands... I'll get right on this...

JKB said...

To my Darling Husband:

You are an excellent person to make anything with; the synopsis was just a golden tip of the iceburg. I hearts you lots.

(the pip pip pip was not necessary)

HeidiTH: Seriously, I think we have related ones. Maybe it's a writer thing? Because they're both creative peopulz too!

Brit said...



And your hubs is so supportive. I love it!

JKB said...

Brit, he is. And thanks!

pseudosu said...

"No pressure, but it could turn people on or off your novel."
Great post, thanks!
This is micro, but it's really hard to see your links.
Man, nice husband. The most I can get out of mine is a promise to see the movie if it ever comes out.

Heidi said...

Very practical post! You have a great hubs (already said!) and I loved his word verification interpretation!!

I just had to do a one-page for an agent this last week - same thing: take a three pager and squeeze it into one. I just made the font smaller and moved out the margins!! (totally kidding!)