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General Question: Synopsis for Non-Chronological Novel


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#1 hermitage

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 11:31 PM

My novel skips around in time quite a lot. Is there any general consensus on how to write a short synopsis for a story that's told out of order?

 

Should I just go ahead and try to put the synopsis in chronological order anyway? That might make it easier, but it would have a very different structure from the book.

 

I've read that headers and chapter numbers are to be avoided in synopses -- I get why, but otherwise it's tempting to have these in order to demarcate separate timelines.

 

I have an older synopsis here which does have headers and chapter numbers, but I think I should probably re-write this from the ground up. E.g. I think it's too long, doesn't say enough about character motivation, etc.  

 

Anyway, my main question is just how others have approached this problem. I'd love to see an example of a "good" synopsis of a non-chronological novel.

 

Thank you!

James



#2 JoQwerty

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 02:25 AM

 

Should I just go ahead and try to put the synopsis in chronological order anyway?

 

As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some agents insist the synopsis follow the novel, while others insist it be chronological. Check your agent's requirements.

 

If your agent does not state a preference, then you have more freedom depending upon the intricacy of your narrative structure. The one page synopsis must tell the main story of the main character(s) in an easy to understand manner (no subplots, no minor characters, no flashbacks). Often times in nonlinear stories the reader must think harder to piece together the different bits into a coherent whole. As the writer you do not have this luxury in the synopsis. If the novel's nonlinearity is easy to follow, then you can write the synopsis to follow the novel, otherwise write the synopsis in chronological order with a sentence at the beginning describing the novel's structure. Remember, the primary purpose of the synopsis is to demonstrate to the reader that you have a story with a beginning, middle and end.



#3 hermitage

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 05:12 PM

Thank you, JoQwerty -- this seems like helpful advice. :-)

 

I'm working on a draft that goes in chronological order with a description of the structure at the top, after a paragraph-long description of the world. Then I'm going to go year by year through the book's fictional history. 

 

James






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