How Do You Write A Book Synopsis?

How do I write a synopsis? Read about editorial attention time, the signficant points of your unpublished book, topped by a powerful query letter.

A one-page synopsis plus a one-page query letter sells your book to an editor or agent within seven to 20 seconds. To make your synopsis and query letter irresistably powerful, put in the first paragraph one of the press hooks from your press kits. Use a hook, like "What is the most powerful resource tool you have?" If you are writing fiction, say, "My heroine, Jenny's most powerful resource tool is her_________" Add "Jenny had only one ______." You fill it in from your plot. Make an impact in the first sentence that explains the whole book in a few words. Not many editors or agents read the entire book if the synopsis and query letter doesn't make a powerful and irresistable impression with a hook that holds and keeps them reading.

What opening sentence positions you first in the eyes of those in authority to buy or market your writing is a carefully outlined synopsis that tells what your book is about and who the intended audience is in the first 20 seconds of reading. The query letter goes on top, only a page long.

Make your synopsis a sales letter and a success story that summerizes your book in two paragraphs. Write it so it can be marketed online. Marketing on the Internet is tremendously profitable. Yet, when I asked one writer of romance novels if she planned to use multicasting or Webcasting in new ways to promote her published books, she responded, "Webcasting? That sounds like it has something to do with the occult. Never mind. Don't bother to reply to try to explain. I really wouldn't understand."

Another print published novelist responded to the same question with, "Webcasting Multicasting? What kind of a knitting stitch is that--like the Perl?" A knowledge of Perl--computer language--wouldn't be a bad idea for a writer. It could lead to novels about the Webcasting industry--broadcasting on the Internet, distance learning, satellites uniting Internet users around the globe, and avatars finding one another in virtual worlds--all new ways to present a variety of genres or to create new genres for novelists and scriptwriters, essayists, and biographers, and those who combine autobiography with hyperfiction.

Readers who are not on the Internet don't see the advertisements on Web pages or Web channels that publishers put up to market books. When books are primarily promoted on the Internet, it leaves out the audience who aren't connected. Publishers should advertise novels on radio and television to reach the audience of readers who aren't on the Internet looking for fiction to buy.

The point is all audiences have to be covered by promotions for books. Taking a virtual book tour is great for those on the Internet, but omits those not there who want to meet a writer in person at a book store, even though it's more stressful to the author and expensive to the publisher. For global access, the writer can't travel around the world and would rather be writing at home, maybe.

Some writers would rather go around the world with expenses paid and meet readers. Only many writers are introverts. So the extroverted writers would feel more comfortable traveling in person and the introverted writers would feel better doing virtual book tours, even if they are missing the unwired audiences of readers. Novelists who want to do a good deed, should know that of all the gifts asked for by lonely nursing and convalescent home clients who are rarely visited by others, the item they ask for most, other than basic necessity items for hygiene is the novel on the audio tape. With failing eyesight, many older people, especially those in institutions, ask for books on audio tapes.

They can't afford to buy them in many cases, so a gift from a writer is what they wish for when asked. Eyesight and the ability to hold a book in their hands goes before their hearing goes, in many cases. The concept of the new storytellers is a reaction not only to the new technology and methods of delivery for story writers and oral storytellers alike, but for fiction writers, all genres of markets are shrinking at different times. One decade a certain genre explodes with 70 percent of the market, as romance novels did several years ago. Now this market is shrinking, leaving only the most competitive writers competing, cooperating, and collaborating.

Another time period, a different genre explodes. Today it is the simple story of the heartland, how one family head of household, such as a single parent, struggles to put bread on the table to feed the family, makes sacrifices, and lives to a ripe old age to tell poignant memoirs that span a century of eventful, significant markers that have a universal appeal to all people in all places, in all times. Best selling authors know the rule that we get to the universal through the concrete, the details. (It has been said many times that God is in the details. Well, in fiction writing, so is the gold.) This decade books about virtues, family, tradition, and standards sell well....books about working towards a goal and getting there--books about morality have an edge in the mainstream and memoirs genres.

Only those writers with flexible skills will survive, or reach their goals. Storytelling is traditional, either you have it (innately) or you don't, and some of those who do, do not apply the sweat to get their material out there.

It's a cliche already for a decade that readers want the tactile feel of the lightweight book in their hands when they read in transit or in bed. It's also redundant to reiterate how the majority of readers of fiction don't use computers. Publishers already know how to reach their nonwired audiences with newsletters, print reviews, and direct mail.

We're talking here about the digital media users who read print fiction as well as seek new ways to experience novels under a variety of circumstances from theme parks to PCs during stress-break-time at work while they are working out on a stationary bike. That's where the audio tapes come in, but what if they want something more interactive than listening? That's when media diversity pulls up a chair closer to the inner circle.

The magazine industry is exploding with many different types of magazines for almost every interest, hobby, or occupation. It is growing rapidly as far as the diversity of subjects--from psychology of personality, ethnic and time-travel stories, and parenting to digital imaging, entertainment, age-related news magazines, true confessions online, cybersoaps, and investing for retirement.

Several national magazines for writers began publishing in the last decade,with more newsletters for writers opening each year. They are beginning to diversify--such as newsletters for homemakers and mothers who write at home, magazines for fiction writers, business writers, science writers, and ethnic writers.

The Asian magazine market is growing, with publications going to those interested in Asia, those of Asian background, and those living in the U.S. and Canada who want to learn about Asian writers. The same is true for other ethnic groups--publications for Italians, Hispanics, African-American writers, Armenians, Indians, Native Americans, and almost any other ethnic group represented in the U.S. and abroad, religious magazines, and publications for writers in the new media, many published by national associations of people with similar interests. Magazines such as The Writer and Writer's Digest, still publishing as they have for decades, now have competition for the huge market of writers seeking advice, from national and localpublications such as Writer's Journal, Writer's Ink, Writer's Forum, Quarterly West, Story (publishes short stories), Puck, Fiction International, Editor's Choice, Epoch, Fiction, and others. There are more than 50 publications devoted to fiction alone. Many more hundreds of publications combine fiction and essays and also publish poetry.

You have the magazines for writers that only offer advice, but don't publish stories. The number of publications giving advice to writers or publishing and reviewing their shorter works grows each year, as numerous fiction magazines cease publication and new ones sprout. Bookstores have to order more racks each year to support the heavy weight of the magazine proliferation. More writers come into the fiction market each year. Compare the number of author's names on their work from one year to the next and see how the number of names grow as the paying markets shrink. The genres change from year to year. If you want the statistics, the publishing industry trade journals have them. So do many agents. Their income depends upon knowing the statistics from the publishers. Publications such as Writer's Market publish books listing publishers seeking fiction or nonfiction work from freelance writers. There's a hidden market of underground fiction publishers, small presses, and the self-published. Fiction writers are worried about why so many reprints of popular books published years ago are being put back on shelves in the print media to compete with new fiction published each year. Publishers say it's because the books made so much money back then, they have become like classics, and will make money now. It's all about what makes the most money, and it's the readers who decide what to buy. It's the promotion, the buzz appeal that prompts the readers to buy a book in the first place and make it popular. The content counts, but without the promotion, the ads, the blazing visibility and credibility, the book would never be picked up and read. Writers research markets thoroughly by reading the trade journals of the publishing industry in their genres. They have to see why a book written years ago is reprinted and put back on the shelf to compete with their own book written today. It's this problem of the old moneymaker competing with the new that won't have the chance to be a moneymaker--maybe. Then you have the electronic publishers and issues with electronic rights on the other hand. It's a pull-push dilemma for writers in a push-pull tech world.

Methods of delivery change. Technology changes. All the fiction writers and all the professors that insist there are no new storytellers are right--because we are talking about new containers for universal and timeless stories that refuse to die and as adamantly insist old-fashioned virtues sell well through tides of time. There are no old storytellers either. It's the market that demands there be new containers for great storytellers out there. Good storytelling isn't enough any more. To be a new storyteller, you have to be a great storyteller. You have to tell old stories in a new way and new stories in a universal, time-honored way that bends with the method of delivery. You have to create stories to fit the technology and new genres. In the sense of having to develop new genres, you are a new storyteller when you become a new media storyteller.

If you are a new storyteller, you first have to be a new journalist. New media fiction is based on the research of investigative reporters--even if it's science fiction or fantasy, horror, suspense, adventure, memoirs, mainstream, or romance. To get to the new, you have to be universal, to have universal appeal. A new storyteller is a recaster, an author who tells you where you have been by taking you where you need to be. Being accepted as a new storyteller is about availability, flexibility, and adaptability. The digital media storyteller is writing up a conference as fiction. Everybody can see and hear everybody else in the story, or in a virtual world full of avatars skiing from corporate culture to the imagination. A new storyteller is a document camera. The author shows the schematics of the imagination in creative ways that bring together different ideas to form new ways of telling an old story.

Cinderella as an avatar never changes. She's waiting for the perfect fit in a relationship, regardless of virtual world or her position in a hierarchy of careers. It's the real person behind the avatar who changes the plot to fit the audience's demand to feel important.

Special skills are good writing skills. If you know point of view, characterization, plot, and how the personality types of your characters interact with one another, you should be able to take great storytelling skills to any piece of fiction that you enjoy writing. If you know how to draw out proverbs and expand them into stories and novels based on the experiences encountered in the proverbs, you have transferable writing skills. All that's left is to learn the methods of delivery in the new digital media and the technology that gives you the tools. Software is being made easier to use each year. You don't need to become a programmer to write fiction.

It helps to learn JAVA and hypertext markup and other formatting languages if you're a nonfiction writer and need to get a job putting up Websites for newspapers to get your foot in the door as a journalist for online news services. For a fiction writer, you need to know how to present a story where the action is, and how to keep readers from drifting. Writing a synopsis that tells the best parts of your story in a paragraph is what earns you a reading by a publisher or agent. Writing a business letter and realizing business practices will help, such as scripting a call to an editor before making it. For fiction writers, being able to shift and lock into new markets is a plus. Your fiction competes for the shrinking entertainment and leisure time available to readers. Publishers of fiction are demanding novels be shortened from 600 double-spaced typed pages to 300 double-spaced typed pages and be presented on disk and in paper copy.



Your market increases when you adapt longer fiction books to shorter scripts for Internet radio broadcast, video, or adapt scripts to screensaver scrolling push technology cybersoaps or adventures that make on idle PC screens useful. They key is a practical, useful adaptation for fiction. At the bottom line, new storytellers (new digital media story writers and oral storytellers together) need to focus on how useful and practical their fiction can be. Fiction destined for the Internet as well as the print media or digital video disk needs to be usefulto sell to mass audiences.

Usefulness can apply to entertainment value and to practicality as a way to tell a story that everyone can use to improve his or her quality of life or to look at something familiar in a new way. Either there is a virtue and value in your story, or it is pure entertainment for the sake of sport and gaming.

Each has its own audience for different purposes of fun and entertainment, learning, or skill and sports skill building through repeated usage. Either you build your relationship skills, imagination, or your motor or sport skills or all of these. To be a great storyteller, be a consumer of great stories. To write, you need to be the client first, attached to a self-contained local and global area network of other writers and their publishers and mentors. You need a community of mentors. To be a commercial new storyteller, create a meta system for multicasting. You can remain a print media writer all your life without ever going to the Internet, but commercial storytelling--doing it as a career, requires that your audience also becomes your community of mentors.

Teachers learn from students more than they learn from their own mentors. It takes more than book learning to make a great storyteller. You need to connect the books, the mentors, the audience, and the publishers' shifting market needs, and the content to a meta system.

A ditital (electronic) storyteller is a multicast publisher as well as a writer. Your writing is global, even though it carries the smallest niche market in fiction. The term, new storyteller refers the writer back to the community of mentors, the global village.

Herein lies the commercial market for fantasy adventures set in mystical worlds--or memoirs set in your own home--written like a novel. The aesthetic market already is within you. Every writer seeks some type of inner circle, some control. The trouble with inner circles is that they are rigid. Mentors become wizards with secrets. Heroes must defeat threats by overcoming their own ideals and traditions to get to the universal tradition.

Every fiction writer must overcome his or her own convictions to write the story with universal appeal. Media classics are timeless. New storytellers also are as outside of time restraints as Internet radio broadcasts are outside of real radio time barriers. A new storyteller lets the audience experience fiction rather than only read it. Why become a new storyteller in a world where you're told there are no new storytellers and there are no new journalists? Perhaps you'd like a new container for your ideas. Audiences want easier access to content. Put the two together and you have a way to demonstrate, say, and share what you write in this new container with an attitude. According to many psychologists such as Freud, Karen Horney, Jung, and others, characters and real people are analyzed by how they oriented themselves, or related to, their parents. You can orient yourself to your parents in three different ways: mother-oriented character, father-oriented character, and mother-and-father oriented character.

Karen Horney maintained an interest in looking at people from the way they identified with their parents. Later, personality types became to be grouped this way by various psychologists and on personality classifiers, including the world-famous "Enneagram." According to Horney and her followers as well as those who follow the Enneagram, those who orient themselves positively, negatively, or ambivalently toward their mothers turn out to be the most aggressive in society.

Don Richard Riso, author of Personality Types (Houghton Mifflin Co.,Boston, 1987) uses such terms as "narcissistic psychopaths," "manic-depressive materialists," and "belligerent antisocial thugs," to describe three mother-oriented types who are infantile in different manners. As Freud would say, "they have active ids." If you're analyzing your characters with the aim in mind of creating unforgettable players in your script or book, story or Webcast push technology cybersoap, you might want to consider the father-oriented types. Psychologists explain these away as those who defend themselves, according to Riso, by being compliant. Actually it was Karen Horney who defined them as types who move toward people--the extroverts who orient themselves either positively, negatively, or ambivalently, toward dear old dad.

Dad-oriented people are banal retentive law-and-order enthusiasts. They mix aggression with compliance. However, put a little stress on the dad-cheer leaders, dad-haters, and dad-identified ambivalence, and they explode destructively, throwing good computer printers on the ground and stomping them or tossing heavy objects your way. Father-oriented characters are the ones who get out of their car when you dart in front of them on the freeway and become confrontational. In short, they explode under pressure. Why?

They are so ther-oriented, so influenced by the idea of what a father's role is supposed to be in the macho, stiff-lipped rule following/rule creating sense and in the responsibility SJ sense, followed to the extreme, that they have internalized the restrictions, rules, laws, and no-nos, dads are supposed to lay down...the tradition, the structure that binds and controls, patrols and judges. These father-oriented souls create the punitive characters, the authoritarian tyrants, the guilt manipulating males and females who love to take on the mores, morals, and righteousness of society, internalize the rules, write computer code, and tell you in no uncertain Freudian terminology, that their superego rules them as they count their beans and genes. They do for you and then tell you what to do.

The third personality category of your characters or real people in your stories (or amazing true confessions on the 'Net) are those who are oriented equally to their mothers and their fathers. Under pressure, these types withdraw and run away from stress.

They won't confront you. Karen Horney calls the mom-and-dad oriented the "moving away" type, because these introverts love to move away from the object--people--to get release from tension created by having people too physically close for comfort. Penpals and family at a distance are fine. People make these characters sick by keeping them in a state of flight and fear arousal. People cause them to burn out early. Use these characters to portray your loners, your geniuses, scientists, intellectuals, novelists and playwrights, your great thinkers or great feelers, poets, artists, and creative types. Under stress, those who have identified both with mom-and-dad either positively, negatively, or ambivalently, may become paranoid or self-haters, or at least have those thoughts popping up when anxious about loss or fearing judgment by the public.

These characters feel people will hate them for what they can't help about themselves--everything from social class, income, looks, genes, religion, ethnicity, or chosen profession to their neighborhoods.

Horney and others say that because they have oriented themselves to both parents equally, they have trouble interacting with people and aren't socialized. With poor social skill, they develop their inner reflection and are dreamers, intuitives, and creators of new ways to use technology, humanity, art, science, or letters. these correspond on the MBTI to the INTJ, INTP, INFP, and INFJ types. A good example is the poet, Emily Dickinson, housebound and wearing white while writing 1,000 poems, saying, "they won't have me."

The INTPs and INFPs of this category ofmom-and-dad identifiers (equally oriented to both mom and dad), are overwhelmed by information overload. They can't stand too many people on the outside, and the pressures on the inside usually come from a nervous system that starts out by being too aroused to anxiety, so they develop avoidant personalities to calm down their weak calming branches.

In other words, subject to agoraphobia, panic disorder, and stimulation of the flight syndrome, they are scared all the time without any reason, other than a nervous system that is bathed in fear permanently. They don't need stressful jobs.

Many are afraid they won't survive an airplane ride due to the amount of adrenaline in their systems. Of this type, you have the INFP who, under stress may become the self-hating artist, tormented by people who single them out and tell them what they look like such as "pops" "grandma," "old-timer," an ethnic epithet, or a sounding of some flaw in their appearance.

If they carry an umbrella against skin cancer from the sun and people shout in their face, "hey, it's not raining," they withdraw for long periods of time, homebased. This type moves away from people. The INTP, also a recluse by choice, may become paranoid or continually think someone is pursuing. Some psychologists call the INTP an "isolated paranoid," when they are not being so kind to this thinking type focused on learning to control nature and seeking power from knowledge.

This character that is oriented equally to mom and dad is supposed to be traumatized and dissociate when under stress. Living not in the real world is the best dream they think about all day, say some analysts. This holds true both for the INFP and INTP. Having ego problems is the name of the game for these mom-and-dad oriented types.

Actually, they could have loved both parents equally, hated them equally, or didn't give a damn equally eitherbout both parents, but found a stranger to oriented themselves to, perhaps a teacher or scientist, writer, artist, or tycoon to emulate. If you want to study more about how one's orientation to one's parents determines personality all through life, study the works of Karen Horney and Freud, or read the books on Personality Types by Don Richard Riso, who writes foremost and extensively on the Enneagram.

For the roots of the MBTI, read Jung and Isabelle Briggs-Myers. Introverted thinkers really do behave differently than introverted feelers. Choosing your characters according to the way they will behave in your story helps to move your story. Showing the audience how they oriented themselves to their mother, father, or both, negatively, positively, ambivalently, shows the audience the reason why your character behaves as he does.

What the great psychologists of the recent past such as Freud, Horney, Jung, and others are telling us as writers of the stories that are made up of people and their choices, is that how a child is oriented to his or her parents determines later personality. For the writer, it's the personality types that change the way cultures grow and move. The way culture passes down tradition or intuition to offspring, changes the way a new set of parents raise their children. Who does a writer follow when developing memorable characters? Freud? Horney? Jung? The MBTI? Other classifiers? Interpersonal psychology? A fiction writer's world is focused on telling a story of how one person is related to society and how society relates back to the character in the story or play. If you want to write a great story, do you look to Freud who divided people into their id, ego, and superego? Or do you divide your characters into three types,those who identified more with mom, more with dad, or equally with both and create your dialogue from whether the character oriented negatively, positively, or ambivalently to either or both parents?

If you want to develop characters that make great stories oriented to the new media, push technology, and Webcasting, you want a magnanimous character that inspires the audience to come back for more. How do you champion avatars in a cybersoap? A great story tells how each of us pursues power. Then it shows the audience why and how each character acted they way he or she did to move the story toward its ultimate conclusion. Give your characters choices. In the new media, your audience already has more choices to controlthe emotions of the characters in a story. Add another dimension to your digital or print fiction.

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