The Perils of Summarizing an Incomplete Manuscript

Laura Ayo

Here’s my take on how to write a novel synopsis for a work in progress (and an explanation for what I’ve been doing earlier this week.) Enjoy.

Middle-aged author wannabe Laura can’t wait to attend a writing conference to learn more about her craft. After discovering she must bring a synopsis of her work in progress with her, she struggles to summarize her book because  she isn’t really sure yet how her novel will end. Fueled by a deadline for when the summary must be turned in, she digs deep to get to truly know her characters and understand their goals and obstacles to achieving them. Along the way, she discovers a group of fellow writers struggling to write their own summaries for the conference. Together, they bounce ideas off one another, lending advice and encouragement to each other as they work to finish their pieces. Though riddled with interruptions by the demands of her career and family, Laura completes the synopsis before the deadline only to learn it can be no longer than 250 words long. Hers clocks in at 282 words. As she rushes to edit the summary with the deadline looming, she discovers she has mad editing skills. She turns in the summary with 50 minutes to spare and celebrates with her writing friends. Bolstered by a newfound belief that she may just have what it takes to one day become a published author, Laura decides to share in a blog post her insights about what she learned about synopsis writing in the hopes of inspiring other aspiring authors.

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