10.12 - "About a Boy" Synopsis

“About a Boy” — (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET) (Content Rating TBD) (HDTV)

DEAN IS TURNED INTO HIS 14 YEAR OLD SELF — Looking to get Dean (Jensen Ackles) out of the bunker, Sam (Jared Padalecki) finds a case for him and Dean to investigate – people are disappearing into thin air with only their clothes left behind. Sam and Dean suspect fairies or angels, but the truth turns out to be much more shocking – Hansel (guest star Mark Acheson), from Hansel and Gretel lore, is kidnapping people and turning them into their younger selves to placate the evil witch (guest star Lesley Nicol). Unfortunately, Dean finds this information out the hard way after he becomes Hansel’s next victim and reverts to his 14 year old self. Serge Ladouceur directed this episode written by Adam Glass (#1011). Original airdate 2/3/2015.

A synopsis is a summary of your manuscript. That’s it. You get a chance to answer the question “what’s your novel about?” in one single-spaced page in an omniscient narrative voice. Usually it is required in the query process (along with a query letter and sample pages).

One tip that took off a lot of pressure for me is that the function of a synopsis is primarily practical. The synopsis is not about voice and beautifully-crafted prose—its purpose is to let the agent know what happens.

I know how difficult this part can be for some writers, including myself! Here are some tips for writing your synopsis.

For two seasons, the refugees of The 100 sent to Earth have been at war. First with themselves, then with the Grounders, and finally with Mount Weather. Many have lost their lives along the way. All have lost their innocence. They have learned the hard way that in the fight for survival, there are no heroes and no villains. There is only the living and the dead. But now the war is over. The battle against Mount Weather has been won. The prisoners have returned home to a world seemingly at peace, but can they find peace within themselves after what they had to do to escape? And is there more to life than just surviving? Unfortunately, their newfound sense of normalcy will be short-lived, and their lives will be changed forever, as threats both old and new test their loyalties, push them past their limits, and make them question what it truly means to be human. First, they fought to survive. Then, they fought for their friends. Now, they will fight for the human race.
What You Need to Include in Your Synopsis

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Ah, the dreaded novel synopsis. I don’t think any writer ever complains more than when they have to write a synopsis. They’re certainly intimidating: “Excuse me, please condense your 80k word manuscript into two pages. Good luck!” Even though you might think the task is impossible, it’s really not. You are a writer; you can make anything sound fantastic. Right?

If you include the following things, then your synopsis will be great (and just what an agent or editor is looking for):

You need a plot overview. The most important part of the synopsis is making sure you cover all the main plot points. The easiest way to do this? Invest in some sticky notes and start writing down two or three sentences per chapter that summarize the events. That’s it. Write down only the most important things that happen in each chapter of your manuscript (this is also a great way to check pacing if you’re still revising). Now that you have the basics in front of you, string those chapter highlights into a few pages of “narration” for your synopsis.

You need to ignore most subplots. I know it’s difficult to cut things from the synopsis, but you can’t avoid it. Focus on the main story arc and maybe one or two intriguing subplots—if you have the room.

You need to introduce the characters. A lot of synopses focus on the plot (good!), but ignore the characters (bad!). Introduce the main characters–protagonists and antagonists–and don’t shy away from including their emotions and reactions to situations (especially if it impacts the storyline). Your characters make your story compelling, so they need to be in the synopsis spotlight. Putting character names in CAPITAL LETTERS (just like that) is a good way to make the cast of your manuscript stand out in a synopsis—and the person reading your synopsis can quickly scan the document for character names to trigger their memory.

You need to talk about the setting. Where does the story take place? How does the setting enhance the plot? These are important questions to answer in your synopsis.

You need to avoid adding description. Even if a situation is highly intense and life-changing, you don’t need to say that in the synopsis. Don’t over-analyze what is going on in the story. Simply state the action as it happens. Leave the descriptive passages in the manuscript.

You need to make it short. There’s no official length for a synopsis (agents and editors will prefer synopses of varying lengths), so it’s best to have a couple on hand (or at least know where you can shorten if necessary). Aim for a synopsis between 1 to 3 pages and make sure you can whittle it down to one page if you need to. The shorter, the better.

You need to format it properly. A one-page synopsis in 8pt font isn’t a great idea. Use a normal text size (12pt is standard, but I’ll let you get away with 11pt if you need the extra space) with a normal font (Times New Roman is always safe). Don’t set crazy margins and try your best to double space. Remember to include your name and the name of the manuscript at the top of your page—especially if you’re submitting your synopsis document separately from your manuscript. Make it easy for an agent or editor to find out what they’re reading and who wrote it.

Need even more synopsis guidance? Author Marissa Meyer wrote a great post called 6 Steps for Writing a Book Synopsis.

DEAN GETS A SURPRISING MESSAGE FROM BOBBY’S CELL PHONE — Dean (Jensen Ackles) is surprised when he checks Bobby’s cell phone and hears a message that says Bobby or his next of kin have been named as a beneficiary in an heiress’ will. Hoping that means extra money, Dean talks Sam (Jared Padalecki) into hitting the road to claim their fortune. However, what they encounter at the house is far from a treasure chest. John MacCarthy directed this episode written by Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder (1006).

Synopsis for 10.06 “Ask Jeeves” — Original airdate 11/18/2014.
How to Write a Synopsis of Your Novel
by Glen C. Strathy

To sell your novel, you may need to know how to write a synopsis, even if you are a pantser-type novelist who can write a whole novel without making an outline first. Agents and publishers will often ask for a synopsis along with sample chapters before they request a complete manuscript.

The biggest mistake most people make when they try to write a synopsis for the first time is to create a bare bones plot summary, along the lines of “First this happens, then this happens, then this happens…” Synopses written this way tend to be so dry and boring even the author would have trouble understanding why anyone would want to read the full novel.

Imagine, for example, if a sports writer described a hockey game as “First one team scored. Then the other team scored. Then the first team scored twice. Then the game ended.” Pretty boring, yes?

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6 Steps for Writing a Book Synopsis
by Marissa Meyer

Confession: I enjoy writing query letters. I know that most writers loathe them, but I always thought the query letter was kind of a fun challenge. The challenge of trying to distill your novel down to its essence, giving just enough information to draw the agent or editor in to the story, but without giving away so much that the manuscript loses all sense of mystery.

However, I feel quite differently about the second-most dreaded item of many submission packages: the Synopsis.

The book synopsis is that three- or four-page snapshot of the book, that essentially tells your story from beginning to end, while seemingly stripping it of any intrigue, humor, or emotional resonance. To me, writing a synopsis that could leave a reader still wanting to read the actual manuscript always seemed like a much bigger challenge than the query letter.

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MICHAEL BEACH (“SONS OF ANARCHY”) GUEST STARS — Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) risk life and limb to rescue Clarke (Eliza Taylor). In an attempt to avoid worrying about her daughter, Abby (Paige Turco) focuses on whether to open Mount Weather as a medical facility. Meanwhile, Murphy (Richard Harmon) plots to betray his former Chancellor (Isaiah Washington). Marie Avgeropoulos, Devon Bostick, Lindsey Morgan, Chris Larkin and Ricky Whittle also star.

NEW BEGINNINGS — After Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) death and the departures of both Diggle (David Ramsey) and Thea (Willa Holland) from Team Arrow, Oliver (Stephen Amell) takes to the streets solo to protect Star City’s citizens as the Green Arrow. With Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) guiding him from the bunker, Oliver is forced to deal with a city that has become overrun with both criminals and a slew of new (and painfully inexperienced) vigilantes. Watching Oliver try to balance his jobs as both the mayor and also the protector of Star City, Felicity suggests he form a new team, but Oliver resists. However, when a deadly new criminal, Tobias Church (guest star Chad L. Coleman), enters the picture, Oliver realizes the best thing for the city might be a new team of superheroes. Meanwhile, the flashbacks take us to Russia where Oliver faces off against the Bratva.

James Bamford directed the episode with story by Greg Berlanti and teleplay by Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle (#501).  
Original airdate 10/5/2016.

—  Episode Synopsis for 5x01, Legacy