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Monday, August 21, 2006

Tip#5 to trim a synopsis—action

Don’t describe the characters’ every action unless that action directly influences the main plot:

She kicks the villain’s kneecap and runs outside. She tries to start the car, but it won’t turn over. The villain comes closer. Finally the car starts and she guns out of the driveway.

Versus

She escapes.

Be especially wary of verbosity in the ending of the synopsis:

He grabs her to force her to look at him. He tells her he loves her and can’t live without her. He’d held back while he thought she still loved his brother, but he’s done with the safe path. He can’t hold it in any longer and risks telling her how he feels. She tells him she loves him, too, and they share a passionate kiss. He asks her to marry him, and she answers yes. In the epilogue, they are married from his yacht before sailing off to Bermuda for their honeymoon.

Versus

They confess their love to each other and marry.

The editor or agent does not need a blow-by-blow version of your emotional or climactic scenes, because they are not expecting and don’t need to be emotionally moved by the synopsis. That’s what the manuscript is for.

They just need the facts about what happens. Try to rein in your tendency to “show,” and “tell” the bare actions instead.

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