Writing a Brief Synopsis

The Harper Voyager contest asks for a 1500 character (letters + punctuation marks) synopsis of the novel. I had a devil of a time getting my 300-page story into a single page, but 1500 characters equals just ½ a page.

So I hacked at my one-page this past weekend. I even got some nice writers I’ve met via Twitter and GUTGAA to offer critiques (Thanks to http://maravalderran.blogspot.com/ and http://emcastellan.com/ for their help!).

What I came up with is similar to my query, though I haven’t copied anything. Still, it starts with a similar hook, provides the conflict and stakes, but then goes farther. In a synopsis, you have to spoil your ending. That means summarizing, as efficiently as possible, the main action and resolution.

Try summarizing your favorite book or movie in 1500 characters. If you love the story, you will find this exercise painfully difficult. Then imagine you wrote the original story. And the kicker: if you don’t chop your story down enough and into a cohesive summary that still “needs to be read,” nobody will read your actual book.

On the plus side, there is a chance!