Friday, February 13, 2009
Why a Synopsis is like a Movie Trailer
I am addicted to movie trailers. Don't actually get out to the movies much, but I enjoy the theatrical clips. Recently I viewed the trailer for The Wrestler, and it occurred to me that these video clips are essentially the same thing as a synopsis. Microcosms of the film itself, intended to give the viewer a feel for the genre, the flavor of the film, the ideology of the director, the talent of the actors, the vision of the screenwriter. A daunting task to be sure, all summed up in 60 seconds. Writing a synopsis is just as challenging. How is it possible to give a publisher some idea of who you are in just one measly page? You have to hook him with a brilliant idea, summarize your entire story, introduce him to your characters, and reveal your unique voice in one page of print. As I watched the video trailer for The Wrestler, I got chills. I was utterly intrigued by this clip, and not in the "I'm being manipulated by this melodramatic music" sort of way. The director nailed it, perfectly. I got a real sense of Randy the Wrestler, the flavor of the film, and was curious enough to want to watch this movie. But even if I don't see the movie, this short video accomplishes something on its own...it tells a mini story, and I thought it was brilliantly done. I think writers should approach our synopsis in the same vein. Instead of dreading a one-page summary of our work, we should view it as a mini-creation, able to stand on its own. What a fabulous challenge for a writer! It forces us to capture the essence of who we are, and what our story represents, and to cut out any superfluous information. Whittling down our story to just one simple page. Our synopsis is the haiku of our manuscript...making every word count.