The Synopsis – Opinions wanted!

The other day I had a conversation with fellow author David Knight regarding synopsis for non-fiction books. Long story short, there is an opinion floating around the cyber universe that beginning a synopsis for a non-fiction book with the book’s title is “amateurish”. Example (synopsis for the fictional book Trading with Trolls):

Trading with Trolls takes a look at how you can trade with the hairy creatures who live under the bridge. Though trolls may look scary, inside they are soft and warm and filled with the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. One only has to discover what a troll is seeking…

etc. etc.

So what do you think? Does starting the synopsis with the title of the book mark it as “amateurish” or are we just sweating the details too much? I’m interested to hear your opinions!


14 thoughts on “The Synopsis – Opinions wanted!

  1. Lauralynn Elliott October 12, 2011 / 1:36 pm

    Really? There’s an actual opinion on this? Are people running out of things to criticize? As a reader, I couldn’t care less about whether or not a synopsis begins with the title. Just tell me what the book is about in a few words. And you know, somewhere down the line, the opinion will change and something else will be amateurish.

  2. S.D. Livingston October 12, 2011 / 2:56 pm

    I agree with Lauralynn. If a synopsis is tightly written and grabs my attention, the last thing I care about is where the book’s title appears in it. This seems a lot like the resume-writing advice that changes every few months – the ‘rules’ often change just for the sake of it. If you can get your message across well, who cares whether it breaks those so-called rules?

  3. Scott Grant October 12, 2011 / 3:33 pm

    It’s all about logical restriction, note I used the word restriction, not limitation. Books about reality, whether historical documentaries, or a contemporary biography, for example, restrict the author to the facts as they have been verified and cross verified by affected entities. As such, the more condensed, yet to the point the title, the easier it is for the reading customer to decide if deeper travel into that specific topic is what piques his interest, because if the author is assiduous and diligent the title and the story should mainly be an assembly of the facts, not open to revisionism. It assures one that the author is loyal to providing the truth of a given subject and is knowledgeable enough to take you to the heart of the matter with a single phrase, or caption.

    Fiction is not restricted and is, in fact, limited only by the imagination and associative experience of the author. Hemingway once wrote that being a writer demands either an incredible life experience, first hand, about the subject matter, or one Hell of an imagination. A fictional title is best when it inspires and opens the gate to the reader’s own imagination. I prefer a mix. Historical fiction such as I wrote in my books; East Of Egypt, The Year Of The Rat and The Lebensborn Experiment if non-fiction would have sported titles such as: Heroin Production In The Golden Triangle Since Post-Vietnam, 2008, Why The Global Financial Market Collapsed and Lebensborn; Hitler’s experiment with Eugenics. To be sure some of my characters were hairy Trolls but I let them shave once in a while.

    Scott Grant

  4. Scott Grant October 12, 2011 / 3:42 pm

    Good luck!

    Scott Grant

  5. Ruth Ann Nordin October 12, 2011 / 3:47 pm

    I think we’re sweating the details too much. It doesn’t matter how a synopsis begins as long as it sums up the book in a way that catches the agent’s or publisher’s interest. I think they’re more concerned with how well the book could sell than whether the synopsis begins with the book title. Given the economic market and the fact that traditional publishers are hurting, I’d be emphasizing my role as a book promoter in addition to telling them what I wrote. 🙂

  6. Scott Grant October 12, 2011 / 3:53 pm

    In summary, yes titles are important because they provide the starting point for whatever it is you have written. A synopsis should be a title that expands into the condensed yet gut wrenching power of creating further interest.

    Scott Grant

  7. Scott Grant October 12, 2011 / 4:04 pm

    The longest journey begins with the first step. The title of your work is a first step toward selling your book. Even the great classics such as Grapes Of Wrath, War and Peace and Les Miserables are stories that first became identified with their magnificent titles

    Scott Grant.

  8. Scott Grant October 12, 2011 / 4:06 pm

    When is a title unimportant? When the book itself is unimportant.

    Scott Grant

  9. Catana October 12, 2011 / 4:20 pm

    If the title isn’t right above the synopsis, then starting with the title makes sense. But I would assume that it usually is. Is there a limit on the length of the synopsis? If so, including the title cuts down on how much you can say about the book.

    I’m afraid I’m a fairly pragmatic person. Unless there are logical reasons for either pro or con, then it’s purely a matter of opnion.

  10. T Moore October 12, 2011 / 7:53 pm

    You’re right, Ruth. It’s a tempest in a teacup. People who think theirs is the only way will be sorely disappointed. Do what you want with your books and don’t worry about the micromanagers.

    • David Knight October 15, 2011 / 7:07 pm

      Thanks T Moore for your info/.comment…along with everyone elses too.It is very much appreciated, Dave

  11. Chip Anderson October 12, 2011 / 8:35 pm

    Some people have to much time on their hands.

  12. Juli Hoffman October 14, 2011 / 12:15 am

    Synopsis or no synopsis, when I read, I start at the beginning and when I get to the end I stop. It’s just that simple. I think putting it in or leaving it out is a personal choice. I like them in, but that’s just me.

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