Synopses

I think we should attempt to state neat summaries before we start reading our work. We’ve all been there. You’re listening to someone read his/her character speak to a father for paragraphs, cross a desert for pages, kill someone out of the blue…and you think: What the heck is this story about?

It might be more of a problem for me, but when you don’t have a sentence or two succinctly describing your story, you have trouble explaining it to other people…as well as writing it. Soon enough after starting your story, if not before, it might be a great idea to put down a very short summary of what it is about, for both the sake of the readers and the author.

Here it is broken down by Writer’s Digest:

    In a mystery [genre] set in modern Los Angeles [macro setting], a female
    bomb squad technician [main character] pursues a mad bomber [opposition]
    who killed her partner.
    Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

    A by-the-book Army officer and a break-the-rules Green Beret [main
    characters] battle a new Nazi Fourth Reich [opposition] in a techno-thriller
    [genre] set a newly united Germany [macro setting].
    Kriegspiel by Todd A. Stone

Here’s my attempt:

    After surviving a year-long kidnapping ordeal, an obsessive young woman hunts down her captors and their accomplice gang network in a struggle for dominance of the underworld of Los Angeles.

Okay, that may not be the perfect description. But it made me think more about what the story is. I’ll leave off with some more examples. Guess what they’re from…

    A spirited farm boy, Luke Skywalker, joins rebel forces to save the Princess from the evil Darth Vader, and the galaxy from the Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.
    In an oppressive future, a fireman whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task.
    Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.
    I’m Batman. (You knew it was coming.)

Answers: Most of these were DUH, I know. 1. Star Wars 2. Fahrenheit 451 3. The Hunger Games 4. Every piece of Batman literature
Source: IMDb

Try your hand at it in the comments!

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About Richard S.

M.P.A. Candidate, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs | History buff, econ geek, policy wonk and aspiring author from Los Angeles. Follow me on Twitter @richard_cecil
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7 Responses to Synopses

  1. marythecontrary says:

    I’ll take a stab at it: A wizard’s unlikely new apprentice discovers her master has ulterior motives for training her, plunging her into the middle of a longstanding feud between rival powers.

    You’ve probably guessed that I struggle with brief descriptions…I want to tell ALL THE THINGS, GOSHDARNIT. But alas, no one wants to listen to twenty minutes of backstory and character motivation when just the elevator pitch will do.

    • rcsambasivam says:

      I know, it can be annoying. But 1) it makes it marketable and 2) it ensures that your story is ONE story.

      • Two Jedi Knights attempt to settle a trade dispute by negotiating with an evil trade federation, then by appealing to the queen involved with the dispute, then by trying to settle the matter in a galactic senate session, only to find out that they are part of the worst plot conceived by man.

  2. rcsambasivam says:

    Anthony’s got the idea.

  3. Christopher Crazyhead says:

    Psh. You may put a summary, but you really keep all the details in here . A summary may be nice to have, but to be honest at least for me, when I write something down I immediately forget that I wrote it and move on to the next section. So I tend to write out those sections instead of just put summaries, as it keeps all the details in the head to be forgotten later.
    May not work for you, but it’s a system I have that keeps me going. Almost done with my second novel-length fanfiction now…
    And for marketable summaries, you do that last once you finished your dang book and know what the hell the story is about.

    • rcsambasivam says:

      Nobody said you have to leave out the details…you can have an outline, too, or whatever works. But every story needs a brief summary, whether you state it or not.

  4. Christopher Crazyhead says:

    Took out my ‘points at head’ for where I keep all the details. Stupid blogging site.. remind me not to use the side arrows

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