A gangster and a flapper.

After spending days, months, years writing a 90,000-word novel, I’m now faced with the task of boiling it down to a two-page, DOUBLE-SPACED synopsis. I’d have an easier time fitting my 2010 body into my 1986 Jordache jeans.

There’s no stress associated with this task. It’s not like these two pages will have any affect on persuading an agent or editor to take on my project and turn it into next summer’s best seller.

After I stopped hyperventilating, I started seeking help for this dauntless assignment. I dug through past issues of Writers’ Digest, perused novel-writing how to books. Of course I got my best information from the blanket of e-mails I sent to my writing friends asking for their advice.

The consensus of their suggestions follows:

1) Start with your logline (elevator pitch/one liner). After a series of grisly shark attacks, a sheriff struggles to protect his small beach community against the bloodthirsty monster, in spite of the greedy chamber of commerce. (Jaws)

2) Introduce your protagonist and her conflict with the antagonist. Your synopsis should tell the reader why she should care. A flapper, a gangster, a Southern belle, a killer whale.

3) Tell them where this is all taking place. Long Island’s North Shore, a plantation in pre-Civil War Atlanta, the New Jersey shore in the Roaring 20s.

4) Share the basic plot. Even if it hurts, write down the ending.

They also told me not to include detailed backstory, dialogue exchanges, minor characters and how much my husband (sister, writers’ group, best friend) loves the novel.

Leaving stuff out was easy. With only two pages, I barely fit in the ending.

Claire Yezbak Fadden