Synopsis Writing

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Synopsis Example: The IDES OF MARCH (Political / Thriller)

Here’s another example of a fiction synopsis. This time it’s The Ides of March (2011). It's a thriller, sure, but a character-driven one.The biggest challenge with this one was cutting down on which characters to mention. You'll notice how Jeffrey Wright's and Paul Giamatti's characters are glanced over. This is on purpose. I just...

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Synopsis Example: “Ransom” (Thriller)

Here's another example of a fiction synopsis. This time it's Ransom (1996). One thing to notice here is that, in the movie itself, the five kidnappers all have their own personalities. But here I had to cut all that and just focus on the leader. Tom is the main character here, and we need...


Synopsis Example: “The Fly” (Horror / Sci-Fi)

Here's another example of a fiction synopsis. This time it's The Fly (1986). I took a crack at this one because my synopsis examples were light on horror stories. The main thing with this synopsis was to streamline Seth's transformation process (and I left a lot of details on the cutting room floor) so that...


Get Your Synopsis Critiqued at My January 6 Webinar

Ah, the pesky synopsis. If you write adult fiction, kids fiction or memoir, you know what I'm talking about. The synopsis is a strange animal, and a unique writing challenge of its own. That's why I'm teaching a webinar on Jan. 6, 2011 called "Critique Series: Novel Synopses." If you're stuck on your novel/memoir...


Synopsis Example (Crime/Noir): “The Big Easy”

This time it's The Big Easy (1987), a crime/noir story. There's a lot of New Orleans flavor in this story that I had to nix here, as a synopsis is not designed to show the spice, but rather the three acts. It was important to show Remy's arc, more than explain the small, interesting...


Synopsis Example (Thriller): “Spartan”

This time it's Spartan (2004), a tightly-wound thriller. As with thrillers, there are lots of twists and turns, and I had to leave a lot out of the synopsis so it would flow quickly. One thing to notice here is that the character of Bobby Scott, who is by far the biggest character in...


The “Fearless” Synopsis

This time it's Fearless (1993). I chose this movie for several reasons. A commenter asked me to compose another literary fiction synopsis; Jeff Bridges is the man and discovers his forthcoming Oscar; and I just watched this movie recently. You can see all posted synopsis examples by clicking on the "Synopsis Writing" category on...


“The Rock” Synopsis

This time it’s The Rock, my second attempt at a thriller. The story is high-concept, but I didn’t want to glance over the three lead characters, as they are all pretty cool. A lot of the story takes place on the island, so I had to do plenty of summarizing there.


Footnotes: 8 Articles on Synopsis Writing

Footnotes is a recurring series on the GLA blog where I pick a subject and provide several interesting articles on said topic. Writing a good synopsis for your novel or memoir can be one of the hardest and most frustrating things we have to do as writers. Today I’m serving up 8 articles to...


The “Punch-Drunk Love” Synopsis

This time it's Punch-Drunk Love, my second attempt at a "literary fiction" story. The female lead here, Lena, is somewhat bland, so the synopsis rests on showing the strange-yet-likeable nature of Barry, and explaining his arc, because it is a big one.


The “Gladiator” Synopsis

This time it's Gladiator. A story like this is big and bold, so you have to keep it moving. You can't spend too much time detailing historical locations or anything like that. Garden variety example: Before Maximus meets Commodus in the Colosseum, he is reenacting a specific battle from the past. Does this detail...


The “Flight of the Navigator” Synopsis

This time it's Flight of the Navigator. In book terms, this would be considered fun middle grade, considering the protagonist is 12. More specifically, it would probably be a science fiction adventure. Concerning this synopsis, I cut all out mentions that Max's home planet was called Phaelon. I cut all info about how the...


The “Witness” Synopsis

This time it's Witness. Witness is kind of strange category—probably mainstream fiction in book terms. It's got the Amish elements, a dash of crime stuff at the beginning and end.Look at the synopsis below. I like how it's pretty short. There could be a lot more said about the culture clash in Philadelphia...