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Winning synopsis?

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Monsieur Renard View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 1:06pm
Hi guys, can anyone clarify if the synopsis is judged? If so, what's an example of a good synopsis, and an example of a bad one?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jibwriter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 1:21pm
I think the judges' tastes vary, as sometimes they comment on the synopses. But I don't think they judge them. I think if they comment at all it's just bonus advice. I do believe a good synopsis can really set a piece up-- it's free words!

Here are guidelines I try to follow:
-I've been told to use the main character's name(s) in the synopsis (i.e. instead of "a police officer investigates..." you'd say "Officer Jones investigates..." 
-I use the 2 sentence limit to my advantage, but I keep them short. I think of it as a one-two punch. Name the character in the first sentence, then hint at the challenge or the driving force in the second.
-I've seen many synopses that are just quotations from other works, which can go well but only when very relevant to the plot.
-Don't sweat it.




Edited by jibwriter - 12 Nov 2017 at 1:23pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Monsieur Renard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 1:39pm
Cheers. Just re-worded my synopsis. Also thought I'd have a look at my last two synopsises - round one got 15 points, the synopsis was very brief:

An unwelcome visitor forces a ghost to confront the circumstances of its death.


Round two was a bit longer, the entry got 5 points:

Robbie is slipping rat poison in Darren’s tea every day, and impassively watching him waste away. But when Darren passes out at the wheel of his concrete mixing truck, Robbie’s act of heroism leads to a moment of catharsis and an uncontrollable torrent of emotion.


Obviously, the points are given to the stories as a whole rather than the synopsis, so not a viable comparison of which is better, but interesting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 2:10pm
That synopsis confuses the f**k out of me. So he's poisoning a guy, and then he saves the same guy? Or is the poisoning the act of heroism?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote justmel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 2:10pm
I don't think the synopsis is technically judged, but it does influence the judges.  I think if they're diving into a story whose synopsis they love, they're predisposed to think positively about the story itself, and conversely, the converse.  In this year's Short Story R1 comp, I didn't do myself any favors with my last-minute "Augusta Troy had nightmares."  First time in three years of doing SS that I didn't get into R2.  Not saying it was *only* because of the synopsis, but I do think it contributed to the story's problems. So although I think jibwriter offers otherwise excellent advice (which I will take), I don't think you should take "don't sweat it" too much to heart. Edited to add:  And the judges did comment on my synopsis, and also my equally last-minute title, which they also didn't like.

Edited by justmel - 12 Nov 2017 at 2:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 2:11pm
That synopsis confuses the f**k out of me. So he's poisoning a guy, and then he saves the same guy? Or is the poisoning the act of heroism?
You know, I don’t give a sh*t what all those doctors say. There isn’t a single goddamn problem in the world alcohol can’t alleviate. It’s a perfect panacea.”
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Monsieur Renard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 2:20pm
Originally posted by justmel justmel wrote:

I don't think the synopsis is technically judged, but it does influence the judges.  I think if they're diving into a story whose synopsis they love, they're predisposed to think positively about the story itself, and conversely, the converse.  In this year's Short Story R1 comp, I didn't do myself any favors with my last-minute "Augusta Troy had nightmares."  First time in three years of doing SS that I didn't get into R2.  Not saying it was *only* because of the synopsis, but I do think it contributed to the story's problems. So although I think jibwriter offers otherwise excellent advice (which I will take), I don't think you should take "don't sweat it" too much to heart. Edited to add:  And the judges did comment on my synopsis, and also my equally last-minute title, which they also didn't like.

Good points. I actually hate having to write a synopsis at all, as I'd prefer have the judges read the story as it unfolds, rather than have any information up front. I do know that in reality very few people read a story without knowing anything about it first, so appreciate that it is a useful skill to build.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Monsieur Renard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 2:21pm
Originally posted by MattrickBT MattrickBT wrote:

That synopsis confuses the f**k out of me. So he's poisoning a guy, and then he saves the same guy? Or is the poisoning the act of heroism?

Cheers for that. Yeah, he ends up saving the guy he's been poisoning.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sarahnut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 3:20pm
Originally posted by Monsieur Renard Monsieur Renard wrote:

Originally posted by justmel justmel wrote:

I don't think the synopsis is technically judged, but it does influence the judges.  I think if they're diving into a story whose synopsis they love, they're predisposed to think positively about the story itself, and conversely, the converse.  In this year's Short Story R1 comp, I didn't do myself any favors with my last-minute "Augusta Troy had nightmares."  First time in three years of doing SS that I didn't get into R2.  Not saying it was *only* because of the synopsis, but I do think it contributed to the story's problems. So although I think jibwriter offers otherwise excellent advice (which I will take), I don't think you should take "don't sweat it" too much to heart. Edited to add:  And the judges did comment on my synopsis, and also my equally last-minute title, which they also didn't like.

Good points. I actually hate having to write a synopsis at all, as I'd prefer have the judges read the story as it unfolds, rather than have any information up front. I do know that in reality very few people read a story without knowing anything about it first, so appreciate that it is a useful skill to build.

I'm struggling with the same thing - I don't really want to give away what happens, but when I try to kind of hint at stuff, it just ends up being cliche! I'm terrible at titles too!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alexis_H Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 4:15pm
I think the point of the synopsis is to generate some interest. I suck at titles and synopsis but here I am. I'm ending to think they aren't judged but worth giving it some thought to try and grab a bit of interest right from the start if you can.

I know when I've been scrolling the forums, I always remember a particular synopsis or title and know I'm going to go find that story when they're posted. The judges are only human. 
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