Bill and Ted’s Excellent Synopsis

I have some confessions to make.

First of all, I am an unashamed fan of Keanu Reeves.  Sure, you make look at me with sneers and condescension, but I won’t take it back. I think he’s a great and versatile actor and not one performance that I’ve seen of his has disappointed me.  So there it is. Mock me if you must.

Don’t worry, this will all make sense. I’m a professional.

Secondly, I confess I’ve recently discovered that while I managed to get a pretty good grip on writing the query letter, my synopsis writing skills may need some help. When I began my search for an agent, I discovered that many of the agents on my wish list require a synopsis up front.  I had produced one in September for a retreat, so I polished that version up and sent it out to one of the agents whom I’m querying.

Now that I’ve decided to attend the Arkansas SCBWI conference in May, I’ll need the synopsis again. Rereading my previous attempt at a synopsis caused me to yawn. The writing is alright, the facts are there, but it was just…boring.  It felt most non-triumphant.

In an attempt to polish my synopsis, (and so I won’t be sent to military school in Alaska,) I found a helpful resource – Chuck Sambuchino at Writer’s Digest. Listen to this dude, he knows what he’s talking about.  He’s written synopses for many well-known movies. One of them for “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” one of my all-time favorite movies.  AKA, the funniest comedy in the history of history.

I have witnessed many things, but none so bodacious as what happened when I read that synopsis.  Suddenly I got it.  (Air guitar!)

Whittling down my story into 1-2 pages was about as easy as stuffing ten historical figures inside a phone booth parked outside a Circle K. I had been getting stuck deciding which things were important enough to include in the synopsis and which things can be left out. Rufus  Mr. Sambuchino cleared up the confusion by giving concrete examples. His advice, think about how you would explain your story to a 12 year old child.  Leave out the unimportant details and clutter and get to the main part of your story.

It was hard to cut out some of my favorite characters and subplots in the synopsis, but in the end, my synopsis reads more like a most excellent adventure instead of the dry history report that it was.

So thanks Mr. Sambuchino, dude. You’ve been a most excellent barbarian.

Until another Tuesday, Be excellent to each other!

(Bill & Ted references in italics) 


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